Asafa's sprint prep with 400 races.

I know of a female athlete that uses a long to short setup where most of the high intensity runs during the early part of the season are reps over 300m. I said that to say, she improved from 7.24 to 7.18 in the indoor 60m doing these longer sprints.
This was a 11.24 and 22.85 girl, so, I don’t think it was a matter of general conditioning.

Was she doing no other speed work other than long reps and how was her times at the end of the previous season? If her 100m time had come down and she could hold this speed through to the indoor season and improve general conditioning then an improvement in the 60m from the previous year should be expected.

As always there is the issue we are constantly faced with of what facilitates adaptation. I state that is crap and you come back with an excellent counter example to which I have no real answer. All we are left to think about are do the 400m reps the cause of the improvement in the 100m race or are they a stepping stone to fast 150s that are ultimately responsible? It just makes you question your views all the time.

Regarding 400’s helping 100’s I could not agree more-I just don’t see it. Its seems there are a number of other ways to handle rounds.

Being the fastest, as you point out, allows you to shut down in earlier races to prevent cns stress and fatigue from accumulating, negatively impacting potential semi-finals and finals.

So what do you think about these programs who follow a tempo base style of training and still produce great short sprinters?

I think it is fine if you think it out correctly. We were talking about speed endurance characteristics for the 100m and how a flat out 400m rep doesn’t necessarily prepare you to finish the 100m strongly at a world class level. Of course it doesn’t mean it is totally useless just that it is perhaps not optimal at least in my eyes. I’m normally quite reserved in the way I state my opinions perhaps my tone this time was not quite right! :slight_smile:

Understood. I do believe that a 400 for a pure 100m guy would be great strength work more so then speed end. I feel that anything 300< would be great speed endurance for a 100m guy. Maybe we should tell this to some of the old school coaches.

My point exactly. Its hard to say the 400 can’t help in prep for the 100m when we see coaches using it with success. Or there is no place for int. tempo when coaches are also using it with success.
Back in the days coaches used squats to strengthen the quads thinking they were most important muscle group for sprinting. As a result the prosterior chain was developed and they had better sprinters.
In the same way coaches may be using 400 to help ending speed in the 100m but the positive effects may be on something else.

I agree. The first question I have is: Is this a collegiate athlete? If so, perhaps the races fill a void. As well, perhaps, the frequency of racing might dictate that too much of the shorter work might be an overload on the CNS.
If not… well back to the starting line.

The athlete I am talking about is not a collegiate athlete. The year before she did a short to long and improved from 7.26 to 7.24. The following year she tries a long to short approach runs 52.1 indoors for the 400 and sets a pr of 7.18 in the 60m.

How was the L-to-S set up (ie what were the runs by the time of the indoor races? BTW, we used to do the L-to-S with Angela Issajenko as well. She did 51.99indoor and 36.91- then WR, then later 7.18. That program moved from 600m down but led to injury because the track at York has bad bends and she got an outside leg ham injury once the SE dropped to 200m.

In retrospect, we might have been ok if we went to split runs on the straight after dropping below the 300m runs.

The runs would alternate every week(Mondays) between 450/400 and 300/250. On Fridays she would jump in with the other sprinters who were doing a S-to-L and do split 60m runs for 2 fridays, and the 3rd Friday she would go back to a long rin 350-450. This was done all the way up to the start or the indoor season.

Why are 60 and 400 m times so controversial? We are not talking about 200 m, or even 100 m. Can’t they work together? Great posts BTW!

I think split runs on a straight work very well even for perhaps 400m. Although running the bend is a skill you need to have the right sized bends to practice it on (e.g. outdoor ones) and you can’t really do that unless the weather is good if you want to use the kinds of high intensity special endurance you advocate.

The One is “arguably” closest to the mark with his reply, above, because having spoken to several athletes and a couple of coaches about this, they all believe running a 400m was integral to developing a fantastic sort of strength which they thought was specific to the 100m.

First person who told me about racing a 400m (or time-trialling it) was Mike Agostini, the 1954 Com Games 100yards gold medallist. And he did the occasional 400m while training at his US college.
He said the idea was that running a flat-out 400m forced the athlete to recruit fibre not usually invoked and it also recruited synergist muscles to assist the exhausted primary working muscle groups.
That may or may not work in practice, but that’s what Mike and his generation believed. He came from Trinidad and his success back in those days was quite a big influence on his contemporaries in the Caribbean, many of whom would have become local coaches who passed down the theory.

The others I spoke to were Joe Douglas who was very aware of the theories Tom Tellez worked with when he was coaching Carl Lewis and Leroy Burrell.

I became aware that those two sprinters, who primarily were training for the 100m, ran a 400m all-out to start their taper, about 10-days before a major championship.

In Tokyo I definitely recall Douglas telling me they both ran their 400m time trial in the 46-seconds range.

I honestly can no longer remember exactly the times they ran, but one of these guys ran like, 46.9, although the 46.9 may have been run at a different meet and maybe by someone else in the Tellez stable.

I can think of a 46.2 but a time of 47.1 also comes to mind. I can only recall thinking at the time it wasn’t a great performance for a guy who could break world records for 100m and, in Carl’s case, win an Olympic gold for 200m.

I suppose the point here is that we don’t dismiss practical experience because we can’t (yet) find a physiological reason to explain the results. (Else we all become sports scientists :stuck_out_tongue: .)

There are physiological reasons that can explain and back up the use of anaerobic lactic training (aka 400m type training for 100m men). Carmelo Bosco and Professor Elio Locatelli have shown that in order to reach and maintain maximum speed you need high levels of reactive power (muscle stiffness). The ability to utilise lactic energy path is a function of reactive strength. In other words your ability to generate reactive strength is limited by how much energy you can produce using the glycolytic pathways.

They found that as the race distance increases reactive power also increases, as reactive power increases the glycolytic energy increases.

They found a direct correlation between the the maintenance of speed in the last 40m of a 100m race and reactive power. The 400m requires even MORE reactive power than any of the shorter sprints. So if you can develop acceleration whilst developing reactive power using 400m training then the research suggests that this may be conducive to achieving high performance over the shorter distances. Thats not to say that short to long is not effective. In the same series of studies by Locatelli, Lacour and Bosco, they do mention that other factors affect the 100m and that there is not a direct correlation between the ability to produce high levels of lactic in the blood and fast times in the 100m BUT for the 200m and 400m there is a direct correlation between lactic levels in the blood, reactive power and faster times. Yet at the same time reactive power is a crucial requirement which seems to be developed to a high level in 400m athletes. So if you have high levels of explosive muscular strength (a crude example maybe explosive squats power cleans or the ability to accelerate) and develop your reactive power (examples, hurdle hops, box drills short contact plyometrics the ability to maintian and achieve high maximal speed) through 400m type training then it figures that you will stand a good chance of high performance. Reactive power is important because it allows a decrease in ground contact time and a maintenance of top speed.

Locatelli, Elio The importance of anaerobic glycolysis and stiffness in the sprints (60, 100 & 200 metres). 1996 NSA

Lacour, René Physiological analysis of qualities required in sprinting. NSA 1996

Locatelli, Elio The mechanics and energetics of the 100m sprint NSA 1995

To view these articles online go to

Do a search on the archives using the author and year provided above. There are more conclusions not mentioned above.

The guy who coached Dwain Chambers in his junior days would get Dwain to run 400m time trials in training. He would give him £20 if he broke 50s!.

Yes thats true, his name is Selwyn Filbert.

Hi Martn,
You’ve put in a big effort here. It’s very interesting.

I still find it hard to believe that 400m sprinters have greater “reactive power” than 100m specialists? If so, Michael Johnson would presumably have broken 10sec at some stage of his career.

Maybe 400 sprinters have greater “reactive power-endurance” because I don’t know any 400 guys who could get anywhere near the rating over the last 40m of a 100m that the top 100m specialists can achieve.

Either I’m missing something (grey matter without a doubt) or maybe the argument is?

Martn, I agree that alot of good research is out there, but I do think it would be amiss to favour research over practical experience. Results speak louder than words.

I think another factor to consider is the difference between correlation and causation - it is often easy (and convenient) to confuse the two.

Think of all the fuss about GCT’s.