Everyone loves predictors.
Everyone loves an indicator on what they can potentially run, without running the actual event. I can’t blame them, as a 400 meter race can leave you ‘trashed’ for a day (or two) after the race.
There are times when you can extrapolate (or interpolate) based on splits, such as a 40 yard time from a 60m, a 60m time from a 100m, and a 100 yard time from a 100m. Even Tommie Smith set two world records (400m en route to 440 yards) with 2 finish lines and timers.
So without the obvious of running an actual 400m in a race, with blocks, with FAT (fully automatic timing), and sanctioned (for record keeping purposes, or Power of 10 results in the UK), here are 6 ways to possibly predict your 400m time.
Run 400 on a fly, no Blocks, or in a Relay
This can be a time trial, and there is no need for blocks, as you can start 10-15m back, and get the fly time for 400m. You can get super accurate splits using Freelap Timing Systems.
The 400m can also be done during a 4x400m relay, as long as you know how to take splits (1st exchange when the baton crosses the 400m start line; 2nd & 3rd splits when the baton crosses the finish line. All 3 splits are NOT when the baton is handed over to the outgoing runner!)
It’s up to you how much you want to factor acceleration out of the blocks.
NOTE: If you use a 10-15m fly start, you can add 1 second for acceleration (though some track aficionados will argue 1.17 seconds is the more realistic number). I am using 1.0 seconds based on the research from Valeriy Borzov.
Run a 200 (or <gasp!> 800m)
This is not the best predictor, as your training and raw talent will determine the true 400m predictor.
It is, however, a good indicator of your speed, and you need speed to run a good 400m. Remember, then 400m is all about reaching top speed around 50-60 meters, hold steady & relaxed until you reach the straightway, and then it’s one long deceleration until the finish line. It’s sad, but that’s physiology & science for you.
If you train short to long as a 100-200 sprinter, that 400 will require some generous estimates!
We like to use “double 200m time plus 4 seconds” as a general rule of thumb, but only if the training is in place. And I mean lactate training sessions. It might be “double plus 5” or even 6. See the chart below:
But it’s not uncommon to use your 800m runners for 4×400 relays.
However, there are so many “calculators” for 400/800 predictor, like double 400m time plus 10 seconds, for example. I covered that in previous articles, like Jeremy Wariner 1:53.02 – When 400m Sprinter Moves up to 800m, The Death of 100m 200m 400m 800m Ratios, and Breaking 2 Minutes for 800 meters.
Race an indoor 300m
With winter upon us, we welcome Indoor Track & Field! Hopefully the “Corona Cancel Culture” will spare us this year!
The indoor 300m is a very good indicator, but remember, indoor 200m tracks differ if banked or not, Lane draws, as well as oversized 300m tracks like Husky Stadium in Seattle.
Take it with a grain of salt, and enjoy the competition!
For 300m time trials, you can read Asafa Powell 300 meter Time Trials – Lessons Learned
I personally enjoy the 300m, and I would call it a good indicator for 400m, but not an accurate predictor.
Run 3x150m, all on the fly, walk 250m or 3 minutes
This is my favourite, as it’s in my clickbait title (sorry to make you click), and I’ve covered this on my Blog already. I wrote this in 2009: 150 Meter Fly Time to Project your 400 Meters and these were my actual times in the article. No BroScience, just memory lane on what worked, and what didn’t work back when I was a younger competitive athlete.
I now updated the chart as I can no longer run 48 seconds for 400m… 300m for sure… to extend to my Masters athletes, as well as incorporated the 3x 200m workout below.
Small favour… if you do the 3 x 150m workout above, please share your results with me on Facebook or Twitter (or whatever source you read this article)
Run 3x200m, all on the fly, 4-5 minutes recovery
This one is good, too. It’s a bit more taxing on the system.
I personally would do the 3 x 200m earlier in the season, or when the weather is bad, and don’t want to risk any injuries. But there is nothing like running 3 x150m in hot weather with no shirt (Men only!) Just shorts & spikes! And Fly… I really need to check out Tenerife one winter day!
Honourable Mention: Anaerobic Speed Reserve (ASR)
From 2009, I wrote What is Speed Reserve? Part 2 – Training Methods which refers to the research article from 2003: High-speed running performance: a new approach to assessment and prediction by Matthew W. Bundle, Reed W. Hoyt, and Peter G. Weyand.
This is the basis of Anaerobic Speed Reserve or ASR
You take 2 points, ideally a short and long distance, and interpolate a point in between.
So you can run, say 20m and 300m, and you can interpolate a 200m time. Or 150m. Or any unusual distances from using accurate hashmarks (i.e. 250m)
Thus you could try a 30m and 500m time trial, to get your 400m predictor.
If you want to learn more, go to the Freelap Sprint Calculator and apply it for your training. The calculator adjusts for blocks or fly times.