Since I am on a roll discussing the various 3×300, 2×350, or 352 yard workouts, I have another one to discuss.
Mike Holloway, head Track and Field coach at the University of Florida, believes in a 14 day taper from a major Championship.
For example, 12 days out from the big meet, he has his 400 meter and 400 meter hurdlers run a 2 x 320 meters near full effort with full recovery between (20-30 minutes). His logic is adding 10 seconds for men at this level to extrapolate a 400 meter time.
I personally like to use 2 x 325 meters because 325 meters is the 9th hurdle mark on the track. It is clearly marked. It also practices race simulation as you start at the normal 400 meter stagger. (By the way, 310 meters is the end of the 4x100m relay zone). Also, my athletes are not 44 sec 400m runners (I wish!), so I usually add 10 seconds for the last 75 meters.
For example, when I was M40 eight years ago, I did this workout in 42.4 and 42.5 and ran 52.64 for 400 meters. And yes, those last 75 meters in approx. 10 seconds were hell.
This workout gave me the confidence I needed as well as set me up for expectations.
For youth athletes, you may consider doing 2 x 255m or 2 x 290m as those are the 7th and 8th hurdle marks.
The Problem with Taper
… just going slightly off topic here…
The problem with the taper is, when do you start it? For an elite runner, they may run 3 rounds on Day 1, 2, and 4. (rest day on Day 3) . Is Day 1 considered a warm-up if your PR is 43 point?
If you are Jeremy Wariner, the first round is usually easy in a mid-45 whereas other people will need to run a PB just to advance to the next round.
To get an idea of elite athletes running the rounds, check out my article on the Berlin 2009: IAAF Biomechanical Analysis
The solution for the early rounds?
Run the first 280-300 meters at real race pace, as if it’s the finals, and jog (checking side to side) the last 100m and make absolutely sure you qualify for the next round. If you want lessons on how to do this, just go to Youtube and watch any of Michael Johnson early rounds of a 400 meters.