I have never run a 400 m in comp before, but how does this sound.

Accelerate to 30m at 95% pace and then maintain the resulting speed until fading in the last 50m. No abrupt alterations in effort eg. after first straight or at home straight, just a smooth gradual increase in effort needed to maintain speed after 30m.

That sounds good if you can really keep accelerating that long. Here is what I do:

Sprint at 95-100% for the first 75-80m, then relax the shoulders, and maintain leg speed until about 200m. At 200m I will start getting the arms going more and at 150m left, give it all I have using my arms and doing my best to maintain the stride I have.

This strategy works pretty well for me, even though I need more speed endurance work.


Here is an old post from wise sage KitKat. Just about says it all…

"People can get a “hammy” from stressing over semantics, but I would say in a 400m there is energy to make two significant “moves” during a race.

The first should be from the blocks: Sprint like a 200m runner for the first 50m. The purpose will be to establish the rhythm of your race and to get into the “lift” posture by 50m to establish the most biomechnically efficient posture. If you don’t have those two things in place by 50m, you keep trying. If you still don’t have those in place by 70m, you’ve probably blown the race already.

Once you’ve estblished the rhythm and mechanics, you go on auto-pilot and go through your personal check-list trying to correct any technical glitches (arm range, shoulder hunching) and trying to minimise tension which restricts movement range, speed and fuel efficiency.

Go through your 200m at 1sec or at best 0.8sec slower than your current best time for a one-off 200m race. That will allow you sufficient “cushion” to finish the race.

The second “move” or “acceleration”, or “kick” may be dictated by wind conditions or circumstances of your opponents or by your physical and mental strength on the day.

The second “move” usually comes around the waterjump, but may start anywhere down the backstraight or as late as the last moments of the bend entering the home-straight.

For fuel efficiency reasons primarily the second move should be like turning up the dial on a light dimmer, rather than like suddenly flicking a switch. Make it smooth, deliberate and powerful because that’s the move which will win or lose the race for you.

Arms are important throughout the race, but fast hands with a fairly full range of movement will yield best results, especially during the two “big moves” referred to.

The usual drop-off from the first 200m to the second 200m in the race is just under 2sec for a well conditioned 400m runner but for a bumped-up 200m sprinter just having a crack over 400m it can blow to 3.5sec. That’s a painful way to do it, but can still produce the occasional fast 400m.

No-one increases their speed over the last 200m as a whole. Not even Michael Johnson.

Most top 400m performers surge through the 3rd 100m - their critical second “move”.

But if you’re too far behind at the end of the first 200m and you’re up against top class 400m specialists, it’s going to be very difficult to walk your opponents down in the home straight.

That’s why the best option is to establish momentum early - within the first 70m and preferably by 50m and then concentrate on carrying your momentum through the race until you decide where to make the second “move”.

The effectiveness of the second “move” will largely be determined by the efficiency of the first.

If you work too hard through the first 200m, you will find your 300m time is good but your last 100m will be ugly and painful.

The race starts around the 300m, so you better be feeling fresh and you better be already in the medals frame at that stage.

The second “move” won’t last very long. It’s just a chance to re-accelerate, stave off the deceleration.

It’s important that during the whole race you hold a fast but “relaxed” rhythm. It’s that rhythm which will bring you home over the last 80m or so of the 400m race.

If you lean forward (whole-body, not from the waist) on the corners you can use them to accelerate a bit without spending any extra fuel.

This is important, especially when transitting from the backstraight into the bend. Runners who jam on the brakes, or drop their left hip coming out of or into a corner are signing up for major efficiency problems.

You may also want to “keep forward” during the last 80m, when some athletes tend to rock back onto their heels due to fatigue which slows them even more.

Then again…you could ignore everything and just go out and race a few 400m. You’ll quickly figure out how to survive them. Or maybe not. "

:clap: Wow!

I think it depends on everybody way of running. I also run 400m, and I make something similar of what you’re saying: accelerate first 30m (97% pace is what I normally do) and try to mantain the speed… but all of this is theoric, I have never mantain the speed more than 300 meters… after that moment I run as fast as I can, so like a little child. That’s the way I make my best marks… Other people make the second 200 at a similar time that the first. It depends on everyone physic…

One thing you must do while running is not to lose your pace. Normally between 200 and 300m most people loose their pace for a relaxation trying to mantain the pace… And also, don’t try to enlarge your stride… it would come alone…

Good luck!!

What things can we do in practice to work on the tactical and strategic parts of the 400 without running a 400?

kind of working off Clemson’s post gf_200, would it be reasonable to run the first 200 of the 400 in practice and set a target time, to get used to how fast you have to go? for example my 200 PB is 24.2, and my 400 is 53.84. could i set a target time for the first 200 for something like 25.2-25.4? do you have any other suggestions?

it would be reasonable but i would suggest to run slightly faster than your target time because in a race you will have to run another 200 meters after that target time. So it would make more sense to work on your speed reserve. So if your p.r. is 23.0 and your target is 24.5 it would make sense to practice running around 24 seconds so that in the race 24.5 will feel easier.
also keep in mind 24.2 is 95%. Therefore with the distance and intensity it is special enduracne and full recovery is needed to be consistent in training.


I don’t think there is anything that can be done in practice to replicate race strategy for the entire 400m. You can work on certain parts of the race, but you must still be able to piece it together come race day. The only way to learn how to run a 400, is to run 400’s in meets. It must be second nature when the gun goes off. If you find yourself thinking in the race, you are probably screwed. It must feel natural and without thought. There have been times that I have been in shape for a fast 400 and didn’t run great. This is because I was a little rusty on how to run it. Get a strategy, and it will become easier the more you run it. It will help to tape your races to see what parts need to be worked on and what you did correct.

I think the first 100-300 can be a way to pace it out so that you don’t find yourself burning CNS energy to protect yourself from LA. This might help for someone who has never run it. The better the practice the better the meets…but nothing beats the real thing.

As mj and Clemson say, I also think that the best way of training 400m is to run 400m. At least all the race. But I think there ara some ways to improve the initial pace of the 400.

I have read on another post some training with a 3x(150+100); we made something similar before competitions: 3x(200+200). 1’-1’30 at first recuperation and 12-15 at second. The pace of that series must be similar at the race pace, so for a 400m with a PB of 48", it would be: 23" + 25".

That kind of work help me too much… Also, trying to relax at the ends of the series helps for the last meters of competition. To be accustomed to stiff at training makes stiff at competition. At least at me!

I am lucky to have a few 400m National champions and a World Junior Champion in my group. At first, they have trained at race pace - e.g. 200+ 200 [40" - 60"] or 3 x 150 [ 40" - 60"].

In the race itself, they have concentrated on what to do every 100m of the 400m.

Since I have started with Charlie’s methods, they NEVER train at race pace. And I can assure you, I had tremendous success with Charlie’s method: I believe 100% that training Special Endurance (e.g. 300m) as fast as possible, will prepare the body for a 400m at race pace. If the athlete is used to running a 300m in 31" or a low 32", the 300m at race pace feels easy, and he is able to handle the extra 100m (of the 400m). (I hope this is what Charlie meant - am I correct?)

Therefore, with this method, it is no longer necessary to emphasize over distance (in the competition period). Up to now, the longest distance on the programme was 350m, only twice in the competition season.

I have read somewhere in this Forum that somebody (?) said, the ONLY time to run at race pace will be in the race itself. And I have followed this in my planning. It works! Furthermore, the athletes no longer “think” the 400m as 4 x 100m.

After Paris, I will let you know how successful my coaching of the 400m was on international level!

Didn’t or doesn’t John Smith get his athletes to do 350’s so they simulate 400m without getting to much lactic

Great comments sprint_coach! I agree totally with your approach to special endurance work-which of course comes from Charlie. That’s who I learned of that type of approach from(books, seminars, etc.).

“Clyde has said before that it takes 40sec to build up lactic and a continued effort after is needed to get the most out of it”

I was just wondering…

During a pre-competition phase would it make sense to extend the standard 2 x 300m for 400m athletes. This could be done in a split endurance format.

What do forum members think of:
2 x [300 + 60] with 30-60 second/ full Recovery. i.e. after the standard 300m run at full effort, give 30-60second recovery and then another 60m at full effort.

…or is 2 x 300m sufficient?

Charlie, sprint_coach, Pioneer…others?

Why not just run 350m?

Originally posted by athlete_400m
“Clyde has said before that it takes 40sec to build up lactic and a continued effort after is needed to get the most out of it”

I was just wondering…

During a pre-competition phase would it make sense to extend the standard 2 x 300m for 400m athletes. This could be done in a split endurance format.

What do forum members think of:
2 x [300 + 60] with 30-60 second/ full Recovery. i.e. after the standard 300m run at full effort, give 30-60second recovery and then another 60m at full effort.

…or is 2 x 300m sufficient?

Charlie, sprint_coach, Pioneer…others?

It has an important place: The stop/start breaks up dynamic stereotype and develops the capacity to strike quickly when already fatigued.

It makes great neural demands of the sprinter, but not in the same way that pure speed training does.

I think in some ways 300m+60m is harder than running a 350 (or 360), even if you emphasize the last 60m.

But this set is not as good for lactic tolerance training as 300m + 150 off 30sec rec.

I like 300m, 30sec, 4x60m with a walk back 60m between reps 2-4 inclusive.
then 250 + 3x60
then 200 + 2x60
then 150 + 1x60.

That’s a good General Preparation session. Darren Clark lived on this sort of work to clock his Aussie record 44.38 way back in 1988. He also ran 44.60sec in his fourth 400m in 28hrs at the Com Games 1990, so it didn’t kill him and it probably helped him.

It’s got quite a bit of specificity and quite a bit of volume.

I’ve always liked the idea of making neural demands of the athlete when they have loaded up with lactic, so the long rep is a depletion run which simulates the race circumstance, but then the quality quarter runner must be able to “lift” off the turn into the home straight.

The first 60 won’t be fast. I’m not looking for that. I’m looking for triple extension, relaxation and good form (arms, no hunching of shoulders) as well as a quickness of movement.

Subsequent 60s will get faster as the athlete recovers.

My approach how to run a succesfull 400m is as follows:

  1. the first 200m has to be slower than the 200pb up to 1sec. But very importand is HOW you ran this 1st 200m.
    e.g.Athlete who has 21sec in the 200m :

1st 200m: 22sec (must ran like 11.3 +10.7)
The 3rd 100m has to be faster than the 1st 100m (if the athlete is well trained) which means that it will be approximatelly 11 - 11.2 (total 33.0 - 33.2)

Now, the last 100m is accepted to be 1 sec slower than the 3rd 100m in our example this means 12 - 12.2
So we have in total : 45.2 - 45.4

If you calculate the difference between 1st and 2nd 200m you will find a 1.2 - 1.4 sec.

Decent, don’t you think?

I have read the HSI squad have used sessions of 300 reps with short rest to stay within the 40 sec plus energy system range for each rep. I would have thought that the best way to target the energy systems apparent at 40 sec plus is to sprint at 95% for 350 plus metres. The short rest 300 reps will be run at 40 secs due to lactic and other metabolites inhibiting contraction. Surely this is not effective in targeting the energy systems?

On second thought, I wonder if the goal was to train lactic tolerance and not the energy systems?

30 years ago we ran 45 second drills. The goal was to see how far you could get in 45 seconds.