Do You Need Speed Or Endurance To Become All-Time Great At The 1K?

This content requires a MileSplit Pro plan.
Join Now and select any plan for instant access!

MileSplit Pro
Join Now


The 1000 meter run is not a commonly run track event with the exception being found within the East Coast high school indoor season. Its an event that can often be viewed as a battleground event for the more middle distance geared speedsters and endurance strength distance runners. Speed vs. Strength...which ultimately wins out to make a runner become one of the all-time greats in this odd distance event?

PR Range Of This Year's Sub 3 Minute 1K Girls

With this weekend's 1000 meter run at the VA Showcase in Lynchburg, Virginia billed as a potential national record attempt on Sarah Bowman's US #1 all-time 2:43.40 run from 2005, there is no time better than this week to analyze what kind of runner does it take to run fast in the girls 1000.

Sammy Watson and Rachel McArthur dueling it out in Penn Relays mile last April, which Watson outkicked McArthur for the win in the final 200 meters at Franklin Field.

There are several runners in the invitational 1000 meter field set for Saturday afternoon in the first meet ever hosted at Liberty University's brand new $30 million hydraulic banked track who have already proven to have it takes to be great at the mid-distance or distance event as one sees it.

Most around the country do not know of Sammy Watson as a cross country runner, but she showcased her range with a top 3 finish at the New York Feds XC Championships this past fall.

The US #2 and US #3 all-time performers headline the race at the VA Showcase in two-time IAAF World 800 meter champ (2015 Youth, 2016 Junior) Sammy Watson with her 2:45.32 1000 meter best and 2-time USATF Junior National champ (1500 in 2015, 3K in 2017) Kate Murphy holds a 1000 PR of 2:45.36.

Not a bad icebreaker meet and season debut for Kate Murphy. Only Mary Cain has run faster indoors than Murphy's 9:14 3K at Ocean Breeze this past Saturday. 

In the history of this event, few girls have run as fast as Sammy Watson has run in an open 400 with a 52.69 clocking and she just nearly ran under 39 seconds in a 300 just a few weeks ago (doubling off a 2:08 800 victory on short rest). Meanwhile, Murphy just made her season debut with a US #2 all-time 3K of 9:16 and has the endurance strength to run 17 minutes flat for 5K.

With a 4:07 1500 meter PR and advancing thru the Olympic Trials rounds last summer, Kate Murphy certainly thrives in the spring at the mile/1500 distance, but the 1000 could be her best event during the winter.

Watson would destroy Murphy in a 400 sprint race, while Watson would be dusted off by Murphy in a distance race 2 miles or greater. But in a 1000? Only fourth hundredths of a second separate their PR's at the distance. We will be witnessing the perfect battleground event this weekend among two of the nation's best high school track talents.

So what is the correct answer? Do you speed or endurance to be all-time great at the 1000? The correct answer with data to back it up is both!

Rachel McArthur might be the darkhorse in the race, but challenged Sammy Watson in the mile at Penn Relays and twice has defeated Murphy for outdoor state track titles.

The third fastest seed for the VA Showcase 1000 in Patriot (VA) senior Rachel McArthur is classic example of a runner with the perfect ability and range for the 1000 meter distance. She has split 54 seconds in a 4x400 meter relay (with a 56.35 open 400 PR), yet has also won a NXN Regional cross country title as a sophomore with a 17:16 5K best and was a top 25 finisher at NXN that fall. McArthur won a 3200 state title two years ago with a sub 10:20 performance, yet last spring found herself a 800 meter champ instead in a 2:06 narrow victory against Murphy.

Rachel McArthur's best race to date has to still be last June's dramatic win against Kate Murphy in the Virginia 6A state outdoor championships in a 2:06 PR.

In the two events closest to the 1000 meter distance, McArthur is among the top 5 returnees in the nation in both the 800 (2:06.55 PR) and mile (4:45.72 PR). She ran sub 2:50 in her first 1000 meter race ever indoors at Virginia Tech last month in a solo effort of 2:49.80 for a US #1 at the time (Watson since then took over US #1 ranking with a 2:49.15 performance).

The Villanova recruit McArthur is seeking to join elite company on the US top 10 all-time list this weekend, which Watson and Murphy are already part of and knocking on the door of a Sarah Bowman's national record. The US top 10 all-time cut-off currently is 2:47.44. Have a feeling we could see not only that cutoff get even faster this weekend, but several more times this season and many more in years to come with so many gifted high school runners possessing the speed and endurance to run a fast 1000.

So what kinda times do you need to be running in other events if you want to start thinking about a sub 2:50 race in the 1000 or cracking into that US top 10 all-time list? Well no better way to figure that out than taking a look at the ten names who currently make up that US top 10 all-time list in the girls 1000 meter run.

High School PR's Of US Top 10 All-Time Girls 1000m Performers

A couple of recommendations based on above data if want to make a serious crack at the US top 10 all-time greats in the girls 1000 meter run:

  • Run cross country, but you don't have to be racing for Foot Locker or Nike Cross nationals titles to translate into 1000 success. Don't even necessarily have to be an All-American or state champion in XC. Just be competitive and well conditioned during the fall, so ready to race once indoor rolls around. All the above girls ran cross country in high school. Only Mary Cain among the top 10 all-time girls as a 2012 NXN runner-up came anywhere close to being a cross country national champ. 
  • Better be able to roll out 57 seconds or faster splits on your 4x400 relay squad if think going to have the wheels to average 32-33 seconds for 5 laps in a 1K race. Bet Kate Murphy could run 55-56 second leg if needed to anchor Lake Braddock's 4x400. Watson and Chanelle Price clearly had the best pure speed among the group.
  • Sub 4:50 in the mile and 2:08 in the 800 would be nice complimentary PR's to have as both time benchmarks seem to be good indicators of the fitness needed to run 2:47 or faster in the 1K. Only Doswell over 4:50 in the mile and Keklak at 2:12 in the 800 are outliers in this department.
  • Must go for the All-Time top 10 performance on a banked track. None of the times were run on a flat 200 meter track. Virginia Tech, Reggie Lewis Center, Armory, Ocean Breeze, and now likely to add Liberty University's Tolsma Track Center to the list of fast banked track venues producing all-time great 1000 meter races.

A special treat for this weekend's meet? The current national record holder Sarah Brown (formerly Sarah Bowman) plans to be on hand to watch the girls invitational race scheduled to go off at 2:15 PM on Saturday in Lynchburg, Virginia. WATCH THE RACE LIVE ON FLOTRACK!

National Record Pace - Girls 1000m Run

#1 - 200m32.68
#2 - 400m1:05.36
#3 - 600m1:38.04
#4 - 800m2:10.72
#5 - 1000m< 2:43.40

Invitational Girls 1000m Field At VA Showcase

Girls 1000m Invitational
Finals (Saturday)
    Name                 Yr Team                       Time 
  1 WATSON, Sammy        SR Rush Henrietta Sperr    2:45.32 
  2 MURPHY, Kate         SR Lake Braddock           2:45.36 
  3 MCARTHUR, Rachel     SR Patriot High School     2:49.80 
  4 RENNYSON, Maddie     SR E.C. Glass              2:55.77 
  5 HOLT, Heather        JR George C. Marshall      2:56.46 
  6 CROOKSTON, Brooke    SR Lafayette               2:58.05 
  7 SCHWERS, Samantha    JR Lake Braddock           2:58.41 
  8 BROWNING, Shannon    SR Lake Braddock           2:58.90 
  9 WITT, Averi          SR Western Albemarle       2:59.62