Last Updated on August 24, 2014 by Jimson Lee
Click here for What is Speed Reserve? Part 1 – 400 meter Sprinter types
The news of Usain Bolt going after the 400 WR in 2010 inspired me to write this article.
What is Speed Reserve?
Speed Reserve, or Anaerobic Speed Reserve (ASR), is simply the difference between your maximum speed and your maximum aerobic speed.
The concept is simple: the faster your top end speed, the faster your sub-max speed.
Correlation between your maximum speed and your maximum aerobic speed.
As an undergrad in Physiology several decades ago, I used to read the Journal of Applied Physiology (JAP) on a regular basis. Today, I only read it when physiology is applied to Track and Field using specific examples. Here is one such article:
High-speed running performance: a new approach to assessment and prediction by Matthew W. Bundle, Reed W. Hoyt, and Peter G. Weyand. You can download the PDF file here.
The basis of the study was to come up with a theoretical framework in predicting performance based on speed reserve using 2 simple tests of 3 second (maximum speed) and up to 240 second run (maximum aerobic speed). In summary, without reading the entire article and falling asleep, or requiring a Masters degree in Statistics, the authors came up with a model to predict your performance based on speed reserve.
To test their theory, they used known PRs from Michael Johnson and Sebastian Coe. What is interesting is another “what if” scenario: that is, “what if” Johnson ran an 800 meters? If you followed the T&FN forums in the past, there was so much “fantasy league” message boards postings about Jeremy Wariner moving up to the 800 meters, and possibly smashing the 1:40 minute barrier (the magical 100 second barrier for the 800 meters)
The above example shows the lines intersecting at around 80 seconds, with Coe having the slight edge in the 800 meters (at around 100 seconds).
Based on the results of their study, there is no doubt in my mind that 400 meter runners could move up to the 800 meters with proper aerobic training and still be world class. Take a look at Pamela Jelimo’s 2008 season.
Speed Reserve, Training Methods, and the Anaerobic to Aerobic split
In terms of sports physiology, the 400 meters is theoretically a 80/20 anaerobic to aerobic split, while Clyde Hart claims that the split is more along the lines of 60/40 anaerobic to aerobic. That’s why he trains long to short: read his article on training S-L-O-W-E-R to run FASTER.
We all agree 30-40 seconds is the longest duration you can run all out. That’s why I appreciate workouts like 2 x 325 meters (or in Michael Johnson’s case, 2 x 350m). For him, after running 40 seconds, he only has 3 seconds to maintain where I will have 12 seconds of pure hell!
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that if your 400 meter time is based on your best 200 meter time plus 3.5 to 4 seconds, then the athlete with the fastest 200 meter time has the most potential to run a faster 400 meter time.
Imagine what Michael Johnson or Usain Bolt can run the 400m (Injuries and training aside) 19.30 or 19.32 doubled plus 3.5 or 4 seconds? 42.0 to 42.6 seconds? Usain’s Coach recently quoted (bragged?) that Bolt can run 18.99 for a 200 meters given the right conditions (straight final race, slight altitude, legal wind, good reaction time, ideal lane draw, hard track, etc).
That being said, you can do the math in disbelief. Then double check your calendar that it’s only 2009 and not the year 2525.
The Argument of Training Short-to-Long or Long-to-Short.
Look at Lee Evans and Tommie Smith – both with very different 200 meters PB, both ran 44 low in 1967 (Evans greatest breakthrough was 1968 at altitude with his 43.86 – a WR that lasted 20 years!
Clyde Hart is a classic long to short training program with his over distance work. If you haven’t downloaded his 60 page manual, I recommend you do so now by signing up for the newsletter at the bottom of the page.
Short to long coaches gasp in horror when they see some of the medium intensity training methods. They believe only in low intensity and high intensity workouts. I’m referring to the “extensive tempo” butt-locking interval repeat workouts. Why train at 8 meters per seconds (i.e. 200 meter repeats in 28 seconds) when you want to race at 10 meters per second (a 48 sec 400 meters)?
The key focus in short to long training is acceleration development and reaching top speed.
Maintaining top speed it is part of speed endurance (and to some degree, special endurance), but that’s another story, which is the focus of this Blog. Remember, you can’t maintain a speed you haven’t attained!