We called them “breakdowns” for obvious reasons: 600-500-400-300-200. This type of workout can be classified as a true “lactic acid” or acidosis tolerance – butt locking – extensive tempo workout. If you aren’t hurting by the 300m, you are going too slow.
Go too fast in the first interval, and you’ll be in a world of hurt towards the end.
For this workout, recovery is “walk what you run” to a maximum of 400m:
– 600, walk 400
– 500, walk 400
– 400, walk 400
– 300, walk 300
– 200, walk 200
I started these workouts in 1:42, 1:22, 64, 46.4 and 30. This was in the Fall season, and we wore training flats (not spikes) and most likely hurried our “walk what you run” recovery. Some guys even like to jog the recoveries, but those were 400/800m guys.
Once we were able to reach those times, we would drop the times and run each 200m segment faster (i.e. 1:39, 1:20, 62, 45, 29). In a way, it’s similar to Roger Bannister’s 10x400m workout starting at 64 seconds per 400m. Once he got down to 59, he knew he was ready.
By the spring of 1992, I was able to complete the workout in 1:27, 1:10, 54, 39, 25 which lead to my 400m 48.36 PR. Note the 6 second differential in training and racing toe 400m. Yes, we wore spikes at this point. And we took our sweet time in the recoveries.
In the late-spring or Competition Phase, we would drop the 600m entirely, and just do 500-400-300-200-100 (the 100m was untimed). Quality was more important that quantity (i.e. 1500m total volume vs 2000m)
Iwan Thomas Breakdown
Photo Credits: Getty Images
Iwan Thomas is one of few rare men who beat Michael Johnson, back in 1998 at Oslo. Yes, THE Michael Johnson over 400m.
Iwan Thomas did a similar workout, with a 500m, 400m, 300m, 200m, 100m and by reducing recovery of 12, 10 and 8 minutes (or 10, 8 and 6 minutes in the summer). There is no rest after the 200m, as his group went straight into the 100m “stride”.
Thomas began with a 68-second 500m, then ran 48 for 400m, 34 for 300m and a low 22 for 200m.
Those speeds are run with 200m splits or pace (average speed) of 27.2, 24.0, 22.6 and 22 low. Impressive, compared to my 28, 27, 26, 25. That explains why he went to the Olympics, and I stayed home and watch it on TV. He definitely had a better speed and speed reserve.