Gone are the days where the 400 meters was an event for 800 meter runners who moved down in distance.
Today, I am convinced the short sprinters have an advantage over the “strength” sprinters like Lee Evans and Butch Reynolds. I am referring to the successes of Quincy Watts and Michael Johnson. In MJ’s case, my proof is his 19.32. He should have annihilated the 400m WR in Zurich after Atlanta 1996, but because of his injury, the WR waited 3 years until 1999 in Seville.
This is the reason why I train MOST of my athletes short to long, with emphasis on speed and technique as early as October. To prevent the pounding on the legs, we use an old pair of spikes with long needles and do our speedwork on grass, never more than 30 meters.
But not all 200 meters sprinters can have success by moving up to the 400 meters. We all fantasize what Usain Bolt could run a 400 meter if he took it seriously today.
In short, the greater the 200m speed reserve, the better the 400m performance. This applies more to women than men. LaShawn Merritt’s PB is faster at 200 than Jeremy Wariner (19.96 vs. 20.20), so these guys are NOT slow!
Last week’s 20.07 (-0.5 m/s) 200 meter performance by LaShawn Merritt in early May shows some great things are yet to come barring injury. He is already in the exclusive 43 point club from 2008 – a club dominated by Americans, so don’t be surprised if he gets near the World Record, or breaks it for that matter.
According to my sources, Jeremy Warnier’s split with Clyde Hart prior to Beijing was not about money. Rather, it was JW wanting to run and focus on the 200m. He knew speed was the key (as in MJ), but not at the expense of speed endurance (and special endurance to some degree)
We all remembered his race in Beijing where it appeared he ran out of gas in the homestretch. Only Jeremy and Coach Ford knows what really happened.
But in his last statement where he speaks about reuniting with Hart, he quoted his speed endurance was lacking.
There are many ways to prepare for the 400m, but the bottom line is the athlete’s individual strengths should always be considered. Do not train your entire 400 meter group the same way. In this case, I am referring to the 200m/400m, 400m/400mH, and 400m/800m group of athletes.