300's & 400's In Training for Sprinters

Sub45 sprinters have a substantial over-distance regiment…

I feel that too much is made of the (supposed) maximum speed of different runners. These tend to be based on the 10m splits quoted from major chmpionships. ( 0.83 = 12.05m/s, 0.84 = 11.90m/s, 0.85 = 11.76m/s) . In all cases these times are the difference of two measurements only quoted to 1/100 second (about 12cms or 4 1/2 inches). Quite apart from the movement of the centre of mass within the body of about 2" (see W.O.Fenn, Amer J Physiol 1930), upper body movement and activation of muscles make measurement to this accuracy problematical. The British head Coach Frank Dick suggested breakup of co-ordinaton when Lewis recorded splits of 0.84,,0.85. If the person analysing the videos had changed their decision by 0.01 (- was that X.47 or X.48? - it looks half way between! - but I have to give a figure to two decimal places ) the sequence might have looked like 0.84,0.84,0.85,0.85. - probably the reality of Lewis’s smooth running. I prefer to do a mathematical least squares fit to 40 to 80m times.( The last 10 or 20m are almost invariably slow, primarily I suspect because of loss of form in preparation for a “dip finish”). 11.9m/s is quite adequate to run 9.8 with a moderate start.

i’ve got to agree with CF.300s are useful but for some athletes.i always hated doing 300s although i could manage 34/5 but i felt that they would knock the sh1t out of me.i told the coach the story and explained my reasons for not agreeing with doing 300s and we decided to stick with 150s.

2 thing happened here-firstly i was more comfortable doing 150s and could bang out some great runs,secondly mentally i was stronger because of the confidence in the distance.

i have trained with guys who could do 33 for 300 but at the end of the daqy when it came to real speed work i would show them my butt

Originally posted by X-Man
i have trained with guys who could do 33 for 300 but at the end of the daqy when it came to real speed work i would show them my butt

But did you still do the speed work? :sing: :smiley:

ok my times are 33.6 for 300m and only 10.8 for the 100m and my best 400m time is only 48.6

as you can guess we do a lot of 300’s in trianing begining in september really slow and as the year progresses getting faster.

I have been injured a damn lot the past two years, things are com8ing together this year as I am running 34.2 for 300m so far and all I have done is speedwork nothing really over 150m.

dcw of course,train fast to be fast be doing proper distances not 3’s

earlier there were some who asked why train 300,s and 400’s at 80%-85%. well when you look at the workout I have 3- 400m with a short recovery time. this is what we call a lactic threshold training regiment. you are running at 85% because for one reason is if you run at 90 - 95% with a 3 min recovery you would promote lactic burn at way too high of a rate and way too early in the workout and the disipation rate of the lactic would be too high to finish the workout. you want to finish the workout and make it quality. faster percentages dont allow this unless you have a longer rest period. the question was for a short sprinter and not a 400m runner. so this workout will improve your speed enurancethere isnt much difference in time from 80% and 90%. why dont you try it and tell me if it works for you. it worked for me and I was a 47.2 400m and 20.9 200m. and it worked for my runners who were 15 years old running 48s and for another runner who is now running a 47s and 21s in high school, and for some female sprinters as well. I agree with you that there is a time for 95% 400m but with 8-10 minute recovery times.

It depends how you define the workout time. with an incomplete recovery such as this. Do you use the percentage of a 400m run- or do you use the capacity to execute the whole unit of work (3 x 400m)?
In other words, 80% of the 400m time may well be operating at 100% of the possible total unit time.

at the end of you post you metioned there is a time for 400’s at 95% with 8-10 minute recovery. When would that time be? 8-10 minutes for a 95% 400 still isnt enough depending on what energy system you are training. What do you define as full recovery and do you ever use full recovery?

Also a note…For a 50 second quater miler 95% is 52.6. I am sure that there are not many 50 second quarter milers that can even bang out 2 400’s in 52.6 with 8-10 minutes rest.

I hear your responses and I respectfully disagree. I believe that a 400m runner that is performing at a 50 second personal best is a quality athlete. and as a quality athlete his speed endurance is quality as well. When we are talking about an 8-10 minute recovery I agree that this is not a 100% recovery but during training is a 100% recovery necessary? let me explain. there is a theme on this forum talking about weight lifting and recovery times. the question there is the same as the question here. does a shorter recovery time benefit or damage the lifter. there is an opinion in that theme that says that short recovery times recruit different muscle fibers to perform the lift. just as is the case here shorter recovery times of 8-10 minutes of a 3x400m workout at 95% recruits different energy sources to perform the same event. we want to develop every energy source and train every energy source so that when the body calls on a different cellular component to perform speed, power, or drive then these sources are available to be used when called upon. During a 400m race there is a short time during the second phase where your initial source of speed has an 8-10 second recovery time, and this speed source will be called upon again during the same race. if I have trained that source to need more recovery time then wen I call upon it during the race it will either not be available or it will be defecient when called upon. I am saying lets train to maximize every energy source. We have a drive or explosive energy that we need during the start of the race this we will never call upon again in the race so we dont need to train this energy source for a short recovery because we need it only once during a race. but speed and power we need at least twice during a 400m. same as a 200m race. so lets train in such a way as this. remember that the human body is able to respond to basically whatever expectations you put on it. lower expectations mean lower performances and visa versa.

I hear what you are saying and it depends on the athlete and their event. if they are a 100m runner I use the percentages of that race just as if they are a 400m runner I use the percentages of that race. I am not trying to overwoork any athlete.
I dont believe that during training there is ever a full recovery time. to fully recover from a 400m or a 200m takes more than even 20 minute. especially if we do 3-4 of them we are never fully recovered. just like it takes 36 - 48 hours to fully recover from a plyometric workout.

To shabachsports,

I agree with your argument although I recognise that there are many ways to train for a 400m.

In 1993-94, when I reduced my 400m time from 52.3 to 50.4 and my 200m from 23.2 to 22.5, all I did was 4-5 reps at 80-85% 200m or 300m twice a week with 3-5 minutes rest in between. I then rested half an hour and hopped the stadium steps for five sets of 25 reps on each leg with a walk down the stairs recovery.

My times in training for the 300m repetions were only around 42 seconds.

As the season approached, I began to add a weekly session of sprinting the straights and walking the bends with all reps under 12 seconds.

However, I now recognise that one can get just as fit by doing a couple of quality reps over 300-400m and increasing the speed as your desired peak gets closer.

For this reason, I now try to combine both styles within training. Yet, I still use short rests for sub-maximum training in both the gym and on the track with around 3 minutes recovery for medium intensity (80-85%) lifts and runs.

One a week, however, I will stress the CNS either in the gym or on the track with a quality session with a much longer rest given the near 100% intensity.

If you want to run a fast 400… sooner or later you’ll have to come to the conclusion that high performances will have to be achieved in your Special Endurance sessions. Just dividing by 4 and multiplying by 3 will tell you that much. Now how is that going to happen? I’ve had girls running in the 50 points- and below, and they ran 300’s in the mid 35s. Tempo 300s were much more likely to have been done in the 48s or slower, with short breaks.


I have now adopted a training program for myself, who basically just wishes to hold my limited physical prowess as long as I can now that I am over 40, and improve the few athletes that I am involved with.

As my training is geared towards the 200m, I have devised a program which adopts a combination of the many principles and themes recommended by various coaches, including yourself, and from my own observations. It is basically a program of two sessions a week, although I also do 1-2 upper body workouts.

The program basically designed around the ability to recover from intense workouts.

At this stage, I am focusing on Winter training given my desire to improve our physical and skill capabilities.

Monday is our leg weights day and Thursday is our running day.

Last monday was a heavy weight session and followed an easy week to ensure CNS recovery

Full Squat- warmup to a maximum set of 6 reps on squats to failure. 3 sets of 6 on lighter days.

Then 3 sets of 6 reps lunges,

3 sets of 8 reps leg curls,

3 sets of 8 reps hypers with weights,

3 sets of abs,

3 sets of one leged calf raises.

Thursday will be a medium intensity track session from blocks focusing on acceleration and skill over 60-80 metres.
The athlete will be working at around 90-95% with 5 minutes between reps.
My athlete normally does some light leg weights after.

Next monday will be the same weight program as the previous Monday, although the intensity will drop to around 80-85% of the weights lifted in the heavy session.

The following Thursday will be a quality running session. Perhaps 3 times 120-150 m with 10 minutes between reps. These will be around 95-98%. The quality track sesion each fortnight will alternate between 30-60m and 120-150m Hence, the speed option is 5 reps of 30-60m with 5-8 minutes recovery.

Essentially, my training wishes to stress strength and speed while allowing adequate time for the body to recover between training sessions.

In other words, given that my training is based on the basis of High, medium, medium, high intensity workouts each fortnight, this allow me to push the weights and the track intensely each once a fornight. The other sessions are based on medium intensity, although I maintain that they also give a training effect.

As i have said, I only train twice a week although i also do upper body. I am confident the training works as my own strength and speed is improving to former levels, and my athlete is gaining improvement in term of his strength levels and running times.

I train on the basis that sprinting is a power based sport to which strength and speed can be best developed from quality training and the necessary recovery to allow CNS recovery and prevent burnout. It is also based on my observation that my best results, and the best results of many other athletes, has been been when I have trained just 2-3 times a week.

I would appreciate your view.


to add to the previous message, my variation between medium and high intensity sessions means that each high intensity session occurs around every ten days with two medium sessions between.

Well here you go:

I love the 300m for developing a 200m sprinter. The lactate build up in the last 30m of a 200m race (specially after 2-3 rounds) is very high.

I was training a 200m runner (20.70pb 3rd in '99 University Games). He did 300s (up to 4 with 4-5 min rest early in season and later 2x300 95% & 100%. His pb was 32.5 (without much experience).
I also let the guy run 200’s x5 with short recovery early in season (specific preparation)

Because he was proned to injury when he did speed work (somehow he was blocked when he focused on max speed, distances up to 60m) when I wanted him to run fast I asked him to 120’s or 150’s (1-3). So he could run 9.7 - 10.1 (from standing start or inside the distance (as a flying run).

Later in time the athlete changed coach and start to work and approach the 200m working mostly on speed and trying to improve his 100m (which was 10.41).

The result was extremely poor speed endurance (but surprisingly also low max speed) and unfortunatelly many injuries in his hamstrings.

Any comments ?


I too have experience the problem of diminished speed endurance after working from a primarily speed base. Even my 60m was effected. I went from being a 6.6 f.a.t. 60m sprinter to a 6.8 f.a.t. sprinter…running as bad as a 7.04. Went from 10.1 outdoors to 11.1 in my first outdoor meet… Basically my speed endurance sucked.

Lesson learned: Never totally abandon something that works…

As we see here there are so many ways to train. There may be science that says that we need a certain amount of time to recover our CNS. and there may be experience that says that you need considerably less time for recovery. I am an athlete/ coach. I have been coaching for the better part of 10 years(obviously not as long as some) but I am always willing and looking to learn. I want to give the best possible to the athletes I train, and I have had some good ones. this is the only reason why I am on this forum. So that I can pull out information, pick the brains of those with experience and knowledge other than my own. I am one that is willing to learn and try out new and innovative ideas if I am convinced of its effectiveness. So far I have not been convinced of the effectiveness of a 20 minute recovery time between an 80% workout percentage. I have heard and respect the opinions and knowledge of others in this room, and I thank you all for your input, including Mr. Francis, I too have had the opportunity to work with a couple girls who were running in the 50’s over my years. Lashaunda Fowler she was early in my career, and she ran a 55 in high school, Gayle Imran( my sister ) and she was running a 57 in the 8th grade. And currently I am working with a girl 12 years old who came to me running a 72 and is now running a 67. this isnt a great time but what I am saying is that she dropped 5 seconds in 3 weeks. its not that she is any better or worse of an athlete now than she first came to me, it is simply a matter of changing her workouts and making her believe that she is so much better than her previous performances indicated. believe me she is working on a percentage chart that puts her at a 65. can you imagine the excitement she had when she ran a 67, wait until she runs a 65 I will tell you she is convinced that my system works.
But again I thank you all for your valuable input. I am still here so please keep it coming.


I agree that pushing an athlete too much can have a distastrous effect on one’s CNS .

when i have trained just three times a week doing quality running, inlcuding flying 30s and long rests, I have got to the point within a month where I could not even coordinate strides.

It is something that has been evident with me since i was 20. Whenever i did a quality session, near maximal, i would need 1-2 weeks to recover.

On the other hand, i know an athlete and coach who trains quality three times a week and does have 20 minutes rest between reps. He had also used such a training method with all of his athletes and has had a lot of success. One athlete improved from 22.5 to 21.2.

I also know another kid, who i timed at 11.4 hand the first time he ever ran a 100m. He then told me he was to begin training with a Commonwealth 400m silver medalist. Three months later, after training 5-6 days a week, he ran 12.3 hand with a hurricane.

It is for the above reasons, i try and train athletes with a mixture of quality with moderate rest breaks, and mediaum intensity training with short rests. I use the near maximal sessions, once every ten days, to stress strength and speed.
Running distances will vary according to what event I am training someone for and will cover acceleration, top speed and the actual distance being trained for.
I then use 2 mediaum sessions in between with shorter rests to both allow CNS recovery and still provide a training effect. I feel that such a training program gives me the best of both worlds. The near maximal sessions also indicate progress and allow me to either alter or determine the intensity of subsequent medium sessions geared towards improving performance at the next maximal sessions.

I would be pleased if you could comment on my strategy.

So far I have not been convinced of the effectiveness of a 20 minute recovery time between an 80% workout percentag

where on this board did you see someone mention this?