Last Updated on March 10, 2013 by Jimson Lee
With the European Championships behind us, I feel they will have a lesser value with the Games being held every 2 years instead of 4. Conversely, the World Championships are held every 2 years, but the Olympics are every 4.
In any case, here is a series of 400 meter races of Marita Koch at the 1978-82-86 European Championships. You can say this is a clinic on how to race the 400 meters. Her training was based on a short to long approach, with speed (and of course, speed reserve!) being the key to her success.
The 400 meter race starts at 200 meters, with the first 200 meters setting you up for the entire race. By being so far in front at 200 meters, she annihilates the competition.
Back in the late 70’s and early 80’s, aka the Cold War years, women’s sprints were dominated by European countries. So the European Championships were the showcase with the absence of Americans and Jamaicans as seen today.
Marita Koch at the 1978 European Championships
Marita Koch breaks the 49 second barrier and her previous WR of 49.03 just 12 days earlier with a 48.94 performance.
Check out Verona Elder of Great Britain in lane 3 without using blocks. Today, that would be disallowed.
Marita Koch at the 1982 European Championships
By then the WR was lowered to 48.60 in 1979, and Koch wins easily in 48.16.
Check out the slow motion replay of Koch running the homestretch. Note her arm mechanics on how her elbows go behind her body due to the hip and shoulder rotation.
Marita Koch at the 1986 European Championships
By then, the WR was 47.60 set at the 1985 Canberra World Cup. On a wet and rainy track, Koch runs 48.23.
In an 8 year span of the 3 big meets, her execution is the same for all races.
Great movies jim.
Marita Koch is by far one of the best 400m runner of all time , i didn’t know that she run many races around 48 sec till you posted the movies , as you said her training was based on a short to long approach BUT can you tell us more about her training if available and what are her personal best for 100m,200m,300m?
another thing if you have a data can you tell us what the first and second 200m splits in each 400m races including the 400m world record (47.60) ?
Jimson Lee says
I know I have those numbers somewhere in my notes…
Jimson Lee says
Found my notes…
Her future husband and coach Wolfgang Meier hand timed her in the stadium at:
10.9, 22.4, 34.1 (10.9 + 11.5 + 11.7 + 13.5)
The unofficial-official splits from the IAAF were:
11.4, 22.5, 34.1 (11.4 + 11.1 + 11.6 + 13.5)
In any case, she ran 34.1 at 300m.
It should be noted that she ran a 21.56* 200m time trial a week before the meet. With a 21.56 FAT (or approx 21.3 HT) under her belt, a 22.4 or 22.5 200m split with that kind of speed reserve is realistic. (*Her official WR was 21.71)
Today, she is still my favorite case study for 400m.
Extraordinary woman, even ran a 60m world record 7.04 in 1985, 7 months or so before she took the 400m record that still stands today. How’s that for a short-to-long approach.