Canada’s Nate Riech — world record holder and reigning world champion in the T38 1,500m — is busy at work preparing for this summer’s Tokyo Paralympics. Riech is one of the best middle-distance runners in the T38 division (a para athletics classification for athletes living with co-ordination impairment), and he is a favourite to take gold in the 1,500m in Tokyo. Canadian Running spoke with Riech about his training, and he gave us his favourite track workout, which is apt to help anyone — from Paralympic hopefuls to weekend warriors looking to get faster — run a PB.
Since becoming classified as a T38 athlete in 2018, Riech has been one of the main runners to beat on the para athletics circuit. He owns world records in the 800m and 1,500m, boasting times of 1:57.78 and 3:57.00, and in 2019, he ran to gold in the 1,500m at the Parapan American Games and World Para Athletics Championships. The 800m was unfortunately cut from the T38 program, but with the 1,500m still included, Riech has been on a tear in recent years.
While he has many different workouts and speed sessions that he uses to stay sharp throughout the season, there’s one in particular that Riech says always gives him a boost in confidence. “This workout really motivates me,” he says. “It’s nothing crazy, but it’s a great test of fitness.”
Riech says to start off with a 15-minute warmup. The first 10 minutes should be easy, followed by 2 x 2 minutes of “steady state” running with one minute of rest between them. For Riech, steady state is around 3:35 to 3:40 per kilometre, but this will, of course, vary from runner to runner. Try aiming somewhere around 45 to 60 seconds slower than your 1,500m pace.
Next up are drills, and Riech says he sticks “with the classics, like As, Bs and karaokes.” Lastly, he runs 4 x 100m strides and a fast 200m to get his legs ready for the speed session. The main set features 12 x 400m with 90 seconds of rest after each lap. “I aim for 1,500m pace for these,” Riech says. “I like to start a bit slow and end fast, so I range from 62 seconds per lap down to 60 or 59 at the end.”
Finally, no workout is complete without a cooldown. Riech runs for 10 minutes and takes it very easy. “I’m a sprinter at heart,” he says, “so I like a slow cooldown.”