Last Updated on November 17, 2012 by Jimson Lee
Last year, I wrote about the 400 meter sprinter moving up to the 800 meters.
Unless you are a pole vaulter, gone are the days where you can just focus on one event. Usually, you have to double up in events, especially in the High School and College ranks. And then there are relays! Points are points!
So my million euro question for the day is:
What advice do I have in making changes to their event choice OR do I their change training methods?
A common question I get from email is for 400 meter sprinters. When they lack progression over several seasons, do you change from long-to-short to short-to-long (or vice versa)? Or do you move them up to the 800 meters (and, YIKES, add cross country)?
The answer: You need comparable effort tables or formulas.
Let’s look at the 200/400 athlete (but this applies to any combination of events like 800/Mile or 400/800 or Mile/3000 meters or even long jump & triple jump, and shot put/discus throw)
You have a male Junior College guy running 22.9 for 200m and 51.0 for 400m.
What does that tell you?
Formula: double 200 time plus 3.5 seconds = 400 meter potential
That means he has the potential to run (22.9 x 2) + 3.5 = 49.3. Even a conservative double plus 4 would give you 49.8. (keep this number in mind below) Add 0.24 and that makes 50.04 for 400 meters.
So, initially, you might start to “panic”, thinking he hasn’t lived up to his seasonal potential. You have 3 options.
Option #1: Change Event distance: you can argue he should stick to the 200m and maybe add the 100 for speed. You will need lots of acceleration development work from Day 1 in September (or October). Work on short speed of up to 30 meters in the first periodization block, followed by distances up to 60 meters in the second periodization block.
Option #2: Change Training methods: you can argue he should do more lactate tolerance workouts, and consider a Long-to-Sort program (i.e. Clyde Hart training), since this athlete clearly has “some speed” (it’s all relative). I have no problem with a Long-to-Short program, but you are aware your limitation will always be based on his 200 meter speed (and then potential limited to his 100 meter speed… you another reason to check out the Marc Mangiacotti Master Class).
Just be advised that there are few success stories with running even splits or negative splits in a 400 meters, such as Butch Reynolds or Mike Larabee. Today, Renny Quow is the best example of a successful even split quarter miler.
Option #3: Change Coach: Let’s not go there yet (** cough cough VCB cough cough **). I’m joking but I’m not joking.
Let’s look at some comparable effort tables.
Mercier Scoring Tables
In Canada, we are in love with the Mercier Tables. Don’t ask me why.
The Mercier Tables were devised by Daniel Mercier, which are a statistical comparison of all performances in Track and Field. It is used for the purposes of National Team selection and Carding for Athletics Canada (among other uses)
THE TABLES HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH RUNNING POTENTIAL. It compares comparable performances and “calculates” your better event for rankings and ultimately position. Because at the end of the day, you want your athlete to finish in the highest position possible and winning medals, even if means Race Walking (to my buddy Don Young, are you reading this?)
Basically, the tables are the weighted (linear) average of the 5th, 10th, 20th, 50th, and 100th World-ranked performances in each event over the past 4 years.
The tables are property of Athletics Canada but you can use the online calculators here:
In my example of a 22.9 for 200m (23.14) and 51.0 for 400m (51.24), we get:
200 –> 400: 611 points with a comparable time of 52.12
400 –> 200: 646 points with a comparable time of 22.80
Very interesting results, to say the least, don’t you think? Hold on, I’m not done yet…
Comparable Effort Tables
Just to compare, for a 22.9 (using 23.14) 200 meters, the Purdy Tables gives two results of 52.31 and 51.38, with the Hungarian table a time of 51.58.
So one formula says at least 49.8 (or 50.04 FAT), and another one calculates 51.38 [and 52.31], with a third study of 51.58. That’s quite a range. (The Mercier 52.12 is based on previous rankings)
I’ll save the post mortem analysis for another post, because I think I’m getting carried away. Looks like this will become another one of those Lyle McDonald multi-part articles.
Please discuss in the comments below.