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Melissa Bishop-Nriagu’s go-to base-season workouts

How the Canadian 800m record holder trains through the fall

Melissa Bishop-Nriagu is the Canadian 800m record holder and a World Championship medallist. The runner is currently training to qualify for her third Olympics in Tokyo this coming summer. She’s in a very important phase of training known as base season. Base season for track runners actually looks similar to the beginning of a build for lots of marathoners. If you’re looking for some workout inspiration, here are some of Bishop’s favourites.

Melissa Bishop
Melissa Bishop at the 2017 World Championships. Photo: Claus Andersen/Athletics Canada

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Bishop-Nriagu says her mileage is pretty low compared to some middle distance runners, with her longest run of the week being 45 minutes and her mileage per workout totaling roughly 10K. Even though she’s a little lower mileage than other trackies, she sees this phase of her training as crucial for long-term development. “Base season first and foremost builds so much strength. Especially come late-season races in July and August, you fall back on your strength. If you look at your training plan as a pyramid, a good foundation sets you up for a strong peak. If you build a strong base, that peak is much higher.”

Melissa Bishop-Nriagu at Speed River Inferno 2019. Photo: Maxine Gravina

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Bishop-Nriagu’s base-season workouts

The runner always warms up for 15 minutes and cools down for 10.

Bishop-Nriagu says that through the fall, it’s hills every Saturday morning. She’ll do a combination of long hills and short hills depending on the weather. “The long hills are about 400m long and the short hills are steeper and only 100m.”


She starts with six or seven long hills before moving to the shorter ones.

Another common workout is loops of Malden Park in Windsor. The loops there are 1,250m, 750m and 500m. Bishop usually does 1×1,250m, 3x750m and 3x500m. “I also do a bit of tempo pace within the warm up to get me ready for the pace of the workout.”

Finally, to round out the week, Bishop-Nriagu will do a tempo run on the roads. This is no longer than 30 minutes and usually continuous. “This would be something like 10 minutes easy, 10 minutes moderate and 10 minutes hard at 4:45 per kilometre down to 3:50 per kilometre.”