One of the oldest calculators for predicting 400 meters is double your 200m season best time and add 4 seconds. Some say it’s 3.5 seconds. But the lactate training must be there (i.e. speed endurance and special endurance)
As far as race strategy goes, you run the 1st 200 1 sec slower, then the next 200m within 1.5 to 2 sec slower than the 1st.
That formula usually works for men. But what about women?
Charlie Francis once said men can train the 400 meters either long-to-short or short-to-long (he preferred short-to-long)
Women, on the other hand, must train short-to-long, because speed reserve will always be your greatest asset. He said you simply do not find women with the same “strength” levels as men, like a Butch Reynolds who can run even splits.
One week prior to Marita Koch’s 400m 47.60 WR, she had ran 200m in a 21.56 FAT time trial. This 200m performance was never verified by the IAAF and remains unofficial with her 21.71 being the official WR. Her 400m splits were 11.3, 22.4, 34.1.
2013 World Championships
Thanks to Darren Alomes and Mike Hurst for giving me the inspiration to this data, obtained by T&FN.
As you can see, the Men’s 400m sprinters followed the general strategy of 1 sec slower than PB, and then 1.5 sec slower than 1st 200m (though I prefer to use SB – season best – to calculate this).
The women, on the other hand, rely on their speed reserve, and run their opening 100m faster than 1 second of their PB.
I guess Charlie was right after all.
Everyone is going to “die” over the last 100m, as the 400m is one long deceleration event after reaching top speed between 50 and 100 meters.
Of course, it’s the one with the least amount of deceleration that will win.
And, of course, the best speed reserve.
And that is why I focus on speed and acceleration development 48 weeks of the year.