I have a reader who has trained for the 400m and has seasonal PRs of 12.0 and 24.0 for the 100/200m, but recently ran the 400m in 53.8 with 200/300 splits of 25.4 and 38.6 (i.e. last 100m in 15.2) (NOTE: electronic times rounded up for simplicity in mathematical equations)
At this point of the season, it’s not too late to go after a seasonal best or even a personal best.
If you want the Jimson Lee rule of thumb for 400 meters, it is:
speed reserve + specific endurance + race execution = awesome 400 meters
Let’s break down this in detail.
Race Execution (Yes, the Splits)
Let’s use the “200m double plus 4” rule. (some argue it’s double plus 3.5, but we’ll keep it simple)
Or a race differential of 2 sec between first and second 200m.
A 24sec PB for 200m means you are running the race in 25 + 27 = 52 (NOTE: 25 with blocks, 27 on the fly)
Or, 13 + 12 + 12.5 + 14.5 (splitting 200/300 in 25, 37.5)
52 is nowhere near 53.8.
(The other alternative is to run with a race differential of 1.5 seconds like Lashawn Merritt, and that would mean splits of 25.3 + 26.7 = 52. This works, too, but we’ll examine that at a later article)
So, what does all this mean?
Well, your “coming home speed” is 14.5 sec or even slightly faster (that 3rd 100 may be 12.8 with the last 100m in 14.2). Yes, I know that sounds funeral if your PB is 11.99 for the 100m, but it is what it is.
(I was told Cathy Freeman never did her tempo strides SLOWER than her coming home speed. To be fast, you have to run fast. Maybe I should interview her coach one day?) For the record, my tempo strides are usually 65-70% 100m speed, or 17 and 18 seconds.
You have to do your Special Endurance workouts, both SE I and SE II (see below). Also, the faster your top end speed, the faster your Speed Reserve, but you must still do that training to carry you over that last 150m when lactate sets in.
My head is usually full workouts, or to use a cooking analogy, full of recipes. It’s never exact week to week as I am constantly modifying it based on how the athlete feels, weather conditions, track conditions, surprises, etc.
So here are my definition for 5 types of workouts:
- Acceleration: up to maximum velocity, usually between 10m and 30m, with complete recovery.
- Speed: up to 6 or 7 seconds, 95% intensity, with complete recovery. Youth and Masters is much shorter. Usain Bolt is a different species.
- Speed Endurance: 7-20 seconds, 95% + intensity, with near complete recovery
- Specific Endurance I: 20-40 seconds, relatively high intensity, with near complete recovery
- Special Endurance II: 20+ seconds, slightly lower intensities, with short or INCOMPLETE recovery. Yes, this means dreaded 500 or 600m.
Another way of looking at this is by this table (your numbers may vary):
Anaerobic Training Systems – Anaerobic Glycolytic
|Speed Endurance||Special Endurance I||Special Endurance II|
Sample Workout #1
Okay, all this theory is great, but let’s get to the meat and potatoes of some real time examples.
When Michael Johnson wanted to break the world record, he knew he had to work on that last 100m.
To quote Clyde Hart, he said:
“In 1999, MJ decided he wanted to break the world record. But he got injured and didn’t run another race before Seville – so it shows you can race train and not race to run your best. He had run 43.39 at Gothenburg in his seventh race so he could have broken the world record. In Seville his splits were 21.2sec and 31.7sec. In the semi-final his splits were 21.0sec and 31.5sec and then he walked in. The way he ran on that could have been sub-43sec. But he’d decided that he wanted to do it in the final.
“So [in order to help break the WR] in 1999 we put in an additional drill. He’d run 37/38sec to 300m, then take 1 min and then have to run under 12sec [for 100m]. He’d take 5min rest and do three. He got down to 11.2/3sec. We had started it early in the year because your body learns and adapts.”
Even for Michael Johnson, with a PR of 10.09 seconds for the 100m, his “100m coming home speed” was under 12 seconds… yes, sound slow, but looks painful on TV.
Obviously, adjust your workout times based on your PRs. In this case, the reader from the very first paragraph would aim to run the 300m in 44 or 45 seconds, and take 1 minute break, and run the 100m coming home speed ideally in 14 seconds. 3 sets off 5 minutes recovery. Not easy, but do-able.
More Sample Workouts
I’ll write more workouts like this in future as we approach the final 3 months of the track season. We also need to devise a workout to help that 3rd segment of the 400m from the above example.