View Full Version : Programming Sprints

Júlíus G. Magnússon
04-24-2009, 09:34 PM
I've just realized after doing a Helen outside with a friend that my running sucks balls. Partly because I haven't run at all in the past year or so, but what ever.

I want to get better at it and I do have access to a track, so I was wondering about programming for sprints. I never intend to run anything longer than 400m at a time. May make exceptions for 800m if someone holds a gun to my head... Distance running just doesn't appeal to me.

Currently my training looks like this:

Back Squat
Bench Press
Deadlift/Power Snatch





Power Clean
Push Press
Weighted Chin-ups



Metcons are usually the shorter heavier kind and I like my workouts that way these days due to a busy schedule.

I was thinking about replacing one of the metcons with sprinting at the track. Lower volume / more intensity is more appealing to me than long grinds.

I've seen workouts like three rounds of 400m, 200m, 100m and 50m suggested to people on the CF boards, but that seems like too much volume to me... The intensity would definitely be dropping even during the second round.

Should I start by doing something like 4x400m and work my way down to 6x200m and 8x100m or something similar week by week? Should I start with the shorter distances? Should I limit my rest times?

Should I be worried about Pose for sprints like that? 400m probably... but 200m and below? I read the book early last year and was slowly getting better at it, it'd probably take me a little while to get back into it.

Just looking for some feedback because I have no idea where I'm going with this. I'd really appreciate any input from someone with some experience with this kind of training.

Blair Lowe
04-25-2009, 01:28 AM
Based on your training log, I would reccomend these:

100-200-400 x3. I would not run the 400 at a sprint pace but go for the distance at 65-75% just a bit more than a jogging pace. You'll hate life if you do these as hard as you can since it will interfere with your recovery ( as in your calves will be destroyed and you'll walk funny if you run on the forefoot in a sprint ). You could also do 50's. You can probably get by walking the distance you ran or walking double the time you ran ( it's easier to distance as that gets you back to a mark ).

50-100-200 x 5 This is mostly about pure sprinting and speed. Fun to do, not so tiring.

200-400-800 x2 Interesting short workout. Or add a 100 and do 3x.

100-300-600 x 3 Little bit tougher than the first, something to think about in the future. Good for training the 800.

100-200-300-400 x 3, 4 if you dare. Starting to do any more of those longer distance runs gets mentally dehabilitating. Maybe it's the CNS just wearing out.

50-100-200-400-50-100-300-600 x2 Throw an 800 after 2 rounds or do an 800 2x or 1200 if you so wish.

50-100-150-300 x4 basically, good for training segments of a 400

I used to use these varying distances because I ran everything from a 100-2m mediocrely and had to do them after polevault training for 2 hours or so. I like the idea of 8x100 or 6x200 but haven't tried them honestly.

I kept the volume kind of low since you can also do other training before so they arent such a time guzzler.

I think you get the idea.

Ari Kestler
04-25-2009, 06:04 AM
You could do tabata sprints as one of your metcons or after a lifting day once a week and then see how you feel...

Andrew Wilson
04-25-2009, 09:28 AM
I'm gong to start this 1500m next week (http://www.runningplanet.com/training/advanced-1500-mile-training-program.html) wfs

Alex Bond
04-25-2009, 11:13 AM
Blair, what kind of rest within rounds and between sprints would you recommend? I generally do "rest for as long as the run you just did took" but I don't really know how sprinting workouts are "supposed" to be done.

Júlíus G. Magnússon
04-25-2009, 12:38 PM
Did a couple of 400m at the track to see where I'm at. Rested about 5-6 minutes between attempts with a best one of 1:16.96.

I have a feeling my running technique is lacking as my shins where absolutely killing me in the last run.

I guess I'll just black box this. Today I did 4x400m. Next time I'm at the track I'm going to do 6x200m and then 8x100m. Before repeating the whole process (possibly lowering volume).

Jon Brody
04-25-2009, 01:10 PM
I'm kinda undulating my 'distance' sprints, but always finishing w/ at least a few 50s -- sprint, jog back, sprint, jog back, etc. Each week per month my 'distance sprint' drops -- 800's, 400's, 200's -- and my set of 50's at the end increases -- 3, 5, 8, 10.

Only doing this 1/wk now, but looking to incorporate one more sesh were i really focus on explosiveness thru a short distance w/ a good chunk of rest between.

Steven Low
04-25-2009, 08:05 PM
You need to be more specific with your goals....

And running a lot of metabolic work isn't going to make him faster guys... at least I think that's what he was after?

Júlíus G. Magnússon
04-25-2009, 08:55 PM
You need to be more specific with your goals....

And running a lot of metabolic work isn't going to make him faster guys... at least I think that's what he was after?

RE: Goals
Sub one minute 400m. I'm not familiar enough with the other distances to be able set a goal for myself there.

Blair Lowe
04-26-2009, 12:00 AM
Julius, I'm not sure what my current 400 times are but let's just say for the count of cause that it's around yours possibly closer to 1m ( I was typically around 55 in HS and it wasn't my race at all-preferring the 200 but doing all of them poorly from 100-3200 jack of all trades like ).

I do notice that my ability to run 400s seems decent but can be pretty horrid when mixed with stuff like KB swings or DB goblet squats or box jumps, rowing, light thrusters, Helen or Nancy. I think this is because it's a matter of how much metcon endurance-work capacity I have.

Based on this, I will put forth the conjecture that the ability to do runs such as the 400 in WODS in metcon WOD's with ease or high performance is a matter of metcon work capacity.

Your log hasn't been updated in nearly 3 months. Based on it, you have intermediate upper body strength and just around 2xBW BS and DL.


Oh, you want a sub 1m 400. If that's the case and not just the ability to kill 400's in metcon WOD's, you need to train the 400 specifically. Use the longer rest times in concert with training. If you think about it takes 3.5m to walk 400 and just under 2 for a 200. Pretty ideal though I'm sure Steve would prefer to just use 3-5m for the shorter runs as well.

Steve said Barry Ross ( look up the thread for strength training for sprinters ) favored of course the DL and 60m runs.

Our 400 runners back in HS typically trained the 50, 150, and 250 besides the 200 and 300 and *some* 400's during the practices. I can't remember volume but I'll say 4 or 5 of each. These were supposed to be down at % of our max times if I can remember.

I remember running the 400 was all about setting a good pace for the first 150, keep on pushing ahead for the next 100, staying in the game for the next 50 as it started to burn and burning it all out in the last 100. Making sure to being around 85, 90, and 95 percent of what I could give in the first 3 stages.

Back then and currently I run the 400 still with a mild sprint technique compared to the pure sprints. Sometimes it could have been standard heel to toe and then get on the forefoot for the last 100. I wouldn't stay on forefoot the entire race as that just kills the calves at those speeds. Hitting midfoot maybe, but I wouldn't say the strides were as small as POSE seems to describe with a higher frequency of rate-step.

Steven Low
04-26-2009, 05:47 PM
Read this thread:

Scott Kustes
04-27-2009, 12:28 PM
My 400m last July was 57.75. At an indoor meet in March, I hit a 63.xx. This past Friday, I hit 53.74 last Friday after doing this type of speed-endurance work (http://speedendurance.com/2008/07/29/400-meter-training-2-x-300m-or-2x40-second-workout/) for 6 weeks. You'll have to do the math yourself on what pace to set, but you can see how he's calculating it and figure it out.

Next goal is sub-52. Improve your raw speed and you'll improve your speed-endurance to a degree as well...it's easier to maintain 75% of your max speed than to maintain 80%.

Gant Grimes
04-27-2009, 01:58 PM
That's crazy improvement. I'm going to have to check that site out.

Blair Lowe
04-27-2009, 03:43 PM

Clyde Hart, looks like a good read.

Blair Lowe
04-28-2009, 01:38 AM
Hmm, based on some sprinting on Sunday and talking with a former college sprinter today; I'd like to recant some of my ideas. I think a lot of what I offered is based on percentage runs and this is what we did in HS. It was brought up to me that many HS coaches don't really know what they are programming. Our sprinters all ran the same stuff regardless of what race they were in. Basically 100's to 400's. No specialization, really besides some work for relays. Hurdlers were somewhere in there, too.

It is difficult I think to guage and think running at 70, 80, or 90 percent while running. Easier just to sprint all out.

I did 3 sprints yesterday. I biked 8 miles as slow as possible ( and downhill ) and then did some pitching ( 49 pitches all over the place gradually getting better ). I thought I would end off with a 100, 200, and 400 timed.

It took me over 1m to walk a 100 as a rest, over 2-2.5 for the 200 and just over 5 for the 400. I think I ended up taking 10m after the 200 and I'm not even sure I felt 100% rested again. Only 5 after the 100 and same effect. However, I am out of shape@ 2x the BF I was in HS, sizeably bigger since then ( 165-170 now, 145ish as a sr and 125ish as a jr [ no WL as a jr and post WL as a sr ] ).

My times were:


I was embarassed and didn't even want to post it. Hell, there was a lot of swearing after the 100. These are self timed and I punched it on my first step(motion) and after I crossed. I started gassing out in the last legs (10%) of the 100 and 200 and even though I paced the 400, the last 50 was a fight.

I was hoping for around 13, 28, and near 60 to maybe 70. I will try this again in 2 weeks and hopefully find a track that is closer. Running shoes and a rubber track with nice conditions. I will do it not on a day after biking a fair amount of distance or pitching ( which is probably way more tasking than that coasting I did to get from point A to point B ).

Looking around at some more resources, it looks like rest was till regular HR typically being at least 10m to 20m probably depending on the distance.

My 200 time wasn't that much off from my 100. My start was kind of poor on the 100 and it was from a stand and not the ground.

Looking back at this all, I think for my purposes, I will play with running 3 50's, 2 100's and 2 200's. I like to train for the general ability of 100-400. I will double the rest times and instead of walking I think I'll just lay down.

Scott Kustes
04-28-2009, 09:42 AM
Gant, note that the 63.xx is an unfair representation of my baseline. I hadn't been training sprints in the previous several months, it was an indoor meet (i.e., 4 sharp, banked turns instead of 2 big sweeping turns), and there was no one near me to push me. I was barely gassed by the end...probably had another 4-5 seconds in me easily. But yes, this speed-endurance setup works.

Timothy Holmes
04-28-2009, 09:44 AM
*When you start a running/sprinting program make sure that your ankle/calf strength/stability is in order. When I started, I got shin splints pretty quickly. For me, the treatment was foot drills, stretching the left ankle, and strengthening the right tibialis anterior.*

If you haven't done too much running before then just getting out there will give you results. 150's are a staple for jumpers and decathletes. Do them with a 3 minute turnaround - run + walkback = 3 minutes. Run at 75-90%. Once you can't finish strongly and pace is way down, switch to the same thing over 100m. Once you can't finish strongly here then stop, or rest and then do a moderate 400m as a finisher. I started out with 3x150 and 5x100, once or twice a week.

After building some sort of sprinting base, it wouldn't hurt to throw in some specific endurance work like Scott says.

When I first started track and field, I had a 55" 400m. After only doing this sort of running training and long jump training for 2 months, I managed a 53.65 on tired legs.

Scott Kustes
04-28-2009, 09:56 AM
Blair, as for resting between sprints, full recovery is needed if your goal is speed work. When I'm doing the speed-endurance that I posted above, I go with the advice to rest 1 minute for every 10m run. So if I do a 2x300m sprint, I walk the track a couple times, lay/sit around, etc for 30 minutes after the first one. I do some light warmup stuff again about 10 minutes out from the next run.

That means your 200s are around 20 minutes rest. Don't short yourself on the rest when training speed. There's no way your times are reflective of what you could do with that short of a rest.

If you haven't been training sprints at all, you'll probably make some good improvements just by sprinting. CNS is going to figure out the pattern you're looking for and start firing properly.

Last 100-150m of a full-out 400m is always a fight. A friend commented that I looked like I was hating life last Friday around midway of turn 2. I replied that there's no other way to look in a hard 400. Lots of mental stuff going on there when the body asks you "WTF do you think you're doing?"

Scott Kustes
04-28-2009, 10:10 AM
Oh, and I never actually run a 100m, 200m, or 400m sprint in training. None of those are really pure speed. There is an element of speed-endurance to all of them.

I do something like this for speed and acceleration (these are each individual workouts...volume very low, intensity very high):
2 x (10/20/30/40m), full recovery - 2 reps at each distance, increasing from 10-40m.
5 x Flying 30-50m - 20m run in, hit full speed at 0m and hold for 30-50m (i.e., a fly-in, hence the name)
5-10 x 30-60m, from blocks - if your goal isn't actually competing in track meets, no need for blocks, just go with a three-point start.

Basically, no need to do more than 10 reps, and I rarely do that many. When I feel sluggish and am not hitting a good speed, I quit, even if it's only been 4 reps. And if your goal is to get faster, you don't really need to go more than 60m. If you're not running in track meets, 100m, 200m, and 400m are arbitrary distances.

Gant Grimes
04-28-2009, 12:32 PM
Gant, note that the 63.xx is an unfair representation of my baseline. I hadn't been training sprints in the previous several months, it was an indoor meet (i.e., 4 sharp, banked turns instead of 2 big sweeping turns), and there was no one near me to push me. I was barely gassed by the end...probably had another 4-5 seconds in me easily. But yes, this speed-endurance setup works.

I took that into account, indoor track, early season meet, etc. I was going from the high 57 you ran last July. 1 second per 100m is significant.

Between this and the frequent emails I'm getting from VS Athletics, I'm getting tempted for some masters hurdles.

Scott Kustes
04-29-2009, 06:18 AM
Definitely a huge improvement. I was surprised and pleased. Goal was a 55 in that meet, so when I came off the turn and saw 40 seconds, I knew I was going to rock it. Without the stiff headwind we were facing on the front stretch, I think I can go sub-53.

And you should do some Masters track...there aren't enough of us. Check this out to find meets in your area: Direct Athletics (http://www.directathletics.com/meet_search.html). Search by Individual Athletes.

Blair Lowe
04-29-2009, 10:38 PM
I will try to train the sprints as much as I can. I wouldn't be surprised if my CNS just isn't tuned for sprints anymore. I wonder how much I can get it down to in 3mo.

Júlíus G. Magnússon
05-01-2009, 01:40 PM
Hey, guys. Pretty good info in here. Thanks.

Just wondering, though... My calves are FUCKING KILLING ME after three 200m sprints, ranging from 31:xx - 36:xx. I was planning to do 6, but I just couldn't keep going and now my calves feel like someone literally tore them apart. I did make a point of not extending my knee in front of me and my shins were happy about that and feel great. But not my calves, which hate me right now.

What could be the reason behind this? Bad running technique? Too much too soon?

I'm guessing a combination of the two. Would I be better of easing into a thing like this and maybe drop the intensity down a little for me to get adjusted to training like this or is this normal and something that should just be powered through?

Any good resources on proper running technique for short sprints like these? Some things to keep in mind? And some things not to keep in mind?

Steven Low
05-01-2009, 03:51 PM
You might be running on your toes too much.

Proper technique is very close to POSE/CHI running technique...

go on youtube and google some sprinting drills and that should help you shape up....

Here's something showing what it should look like:

Stretch them out lightly, massage, heat for recovery.

Júlíus G. Magnússon
05-01-2009, 08:38 PM
Good stuff. Thanks, man.

I'll get a buddy to take a video of my running next time and compare it to that sequence. I have a feeling that the way I'm actually running is way off from the way I think I'm running.

Brandon Oto
05-02-2009, 12:42 AM
What are you wearing?

Alex Bond
05-02-2009, 09:43 AM
What are you wearing, baby?

Sorry, couldn't resist.

Júlíus G. Magnússon
05-02-2009, 10:25 AM

Well, the shoes I'm wearing are kind of minimalist. No heel to speak of, just a really thin sole.

I prefer them to my old pair of Nike Pegasus running shoes that just feel awkward to run in.

Frank Needham
05-02-2009, 04:03 PM
Several weeks ago I decided that I needed to do something different, like shock my metabolism with some sprint training. I chose 400s done over a period of 20-30 minutes and either ring dips or jumping bar muscle ups during the rest period. Now, I'm terrible at track but I'm very pleased with my results and got curious about the rapid changes my body is undergoing. Poking around a bit I found the below article which gives some insight into what is going on physiologically and then backs it up with some programming hints:

Short Sprint Interval Training

ExRx.net > Exercise Information > Info


Burgomaster et al (2003) reported 6 sessions of Short Sprint Interval Training (SIT) over 2 weeks dramatically improved cycle endurance capacity in recreationally trained men and women. During cycling at 80% of VO2max, average time to exhaustion increased from approximately 25 minutes to 51 minutes (~101%)!

Hughes et al (2004) demonstrated 6 sessions of SIT Training over a 2 week period increased muscle oxidative capacity and altered muscle glycogen metabolism in recreationally active young men. SIT decreased the time required to complete a fixed amount of work (10.4%), increased resting muscle glycogen by 53%, and appeared to decrease reliance on non-oxidative energy metabolism. SIT consisted of 4 to 7 "all out" 30 second Wingate tests, separated by 4 minutes of recovery.

Trembblay et al (1994) compared aerobic versus sprint exercise on the cycle ergometer (see HIIT). The sprint group lost over 3 times as much body fat as the aerobic group despite of only expending less than half as many calories during exercise.

It was recognized that creatine phosphate recovery can take about 4 minutes between maximal sprints (McCartney 1986). Bogdanis (1995) reported after a 30 second cycle ergometer sprint, PCr resynthesis reached 64% of pre-exercise levels after 90 seconds rest and 85% of pre-exercise levels after 6 minutes rest. Full PCr repletion may take longer after repeated sprints than following a single sprint.

Trebblay used a passive recovery between sprint bouts, resting until heart rate returned to 120 to 130 bpm. Yet, active recovery hastens local lactate clearance (Corder 2000) and provides superior performance to passive rest in repeated short-term, high intensity cycling sprint bouts (Signorile 1993).

SIT, or HIIT, not to be confused with traditional interval training is an advanced technique to be used only after at least 6 weeks of a general conditioning program. Here are guidelines and ideas for beginning a SIT program and other ways to incorporate this sort of training into your routine:

General Guidelines

* Warmup
o Specific to movement
o Alternate progressively intense warmups between short active recovery periods
* Workout
o Near maximal sprints followed by 4 minute
o Repeat multiple times
* Duration
o Begin with 2 to 3 workout bouts for your fist workouts
o Over the next weeks progressively increase duration, number of bouts, and speed
* Frequency
o 2-3 non consecutive days
o Ideally days that weight training is not performed

Traditional Sprints (Outdoor on Track)

* Warmup
o 2 min brisk walk then 25% jog (30 sec)
o 2 min brisk walk then 50% run (20 sec)
o 2 min brisk walk then 90% sprint (15 sec)
o 3 min walk
* Workout:
o Sprint 100% (5 to 10 sec) then 4 minute walk
o Repeat multiple times

Incline Walking (Treadmill)

* Warmup
o 5 min walk (0 Grade) then brisk walk (Incline Grade)
o 3 min walk
* Workout
o Peaks: Very brisk walk at highest incline that can be sustained for 30 to 60 seconds
o Valleys: 4 min walk

Stairs (Multiple Flights or Stadium Steps)

* Warmup
o 2 min brisk walk then walk up steps
o walk down steps, 2 min brisk walk, then jog up steps
o walk down steps, 2 min brisk walk then run up steps
o walk down steps, 3 min walk
* Workout
o Sprint up steps
o walk down steps then 4 minute walk

Other Modes

* Cycling hills
* Swimming
* Elliptical
* Rowing
* Jump Rope
* Plyometrics
* Agility Drills

Parents with small children can perform HIIT while pushing a stroller or pulling a wagon. The kids love it and will encourage you to do it regularly!

Sports training: Training mode should be very similar the sport activity (eg runners should sprint, cyclers should cycle hills, etc.)

Fat loss: Exercises that utilize the largest muscles (Glutes and Quads) may have greatest potential in increasing post exercise metabolism.

Bogdanis GC, Nevill ME, Boobis LH, Lakomy HK, Nevill AM (1995). Recovery of power output and muscle metabolites following 30 s of maximal sprint cycling in man. J Physiol, 15;482 ( Pt 2):467-80.

Burgomaster KA, Heigenhauser GJF, Gibala MJ (2003). Skeletal muscle metabolic and performance adaptation after short sprint interval training (SIT), Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 36(5) S20.

Corder KP, Potteiger JA, Nau KL, Figoni SE, Hershberger SL (2000). Effects of active and passive recovery conditions on blood lactate, rating of percieved exertion, and performance during resistance exercise. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 14: 151-156.

Hughes, S. C., Burgomaster, K. A., Heigenhauser, G. J., & Gibala, M. J. (2003). Six bouts of sprint interval training (SIT) improves intense aerobic cycling performance and peak anaerobic power. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 35(5);S337.

McCartney NL, Spriet LL, Heigenhauser GJ, Kowalchuk JM, Sutton J R, Jones NL (1986). Muscle power and metabolism in maximal intermittent exercise. Journal of Applied Physiology, Vol 60, Issue 4 1164-1169

Signorile JF, Ingalls C, Tremblay LM (1993). The effects of active and passive recovery on short-term, high intensity power output. Can J Appl Physiol. Mar;18(1):31-42.

Trembblay A, Simoneau JA, Bouchard C. (1994). Impact of Exercise Intensity on Body Fatness and Skeletal Muscle Metablism, Metabolism. 43(7): 814-818.\

Brandon Oto
05-02-2009, 09:57 PM
Flats + forefoot striking is pretty challenging on the calves/ankles if you're not adapted.

Júlíus G. Magnússon
05-03-2009, 01:39 PM
Flats + forefoot striking is pretty challenging on the calves/ankles if you're not adapted.
Maybe I should run in the running shoes for a while until my calves get better adapted? I'll give it a try next time and see if it makes a difference.

Steven Low
05-03-2009, 03:09 PM
Maybe I should run in the running shoes for a while until my calves get better adapted? I'll give it a try next time and see if it makes a difference.

Just do less work and build up to it.

Changing shoes is going to do more harm than good.

Júlíus G. Magnússon
05-03-2009, 06:28 PM

Frank Needham
05-11-2009, 07:31 PM
This thread, due to current training involving the 400, so interested me that I continued to look for more info about how to train and program for it. In my search I came across this and would be interested to hear anyone's thoughts:

Click here to subscribe to TexasTrack.com and support this site
Effective Training for a Grueling Race
by Drew Roberson
arrw_l3.gif (1185 bytes) back to Coaches' Corner main page

If you’re such a glutton for punishment that you want to run the 400m dash, then you’re going to need to know how to train for it. If the sight of grown men vomiting at the finish line excites you, then enter the next 400 in your area, but please take some measures to lessen your pain. Although the quarter mile will never be an easy event, science and proper training can get you physically prepared for the task at hand.

A Finnish study, cited in Owen Anderson’s Running Research News, identified the two major energy sources for running the 400. Anderson states, "As you plan your workouts, remember that muscles have two key ways to obtain energy during a 400: (1) Creatine phosphate itself generates energy, and (2) Glucose breaks down to form lactic acid." The study also showed creatine phosphate is depleted by almost fifty percent after only 100 meters and then slowly depletes almost completely by 400 meters. Creatine phosphate levels do not return to normal levels for a full eight minutes following the race. Therefore, it would make sense for 400 runners to do repeat 100s almost all out with five to eight minute recoveries. These jaunts will increase the muscles’ ability to use creatine.

Since the discovery that lactic acid levels were highest at about 300 meters, Anderson concluded that 300s, "do a fantastic job of maximizing muscles’ ability to break down glucose. "200 meter sprints, however, were found to be inefficient for 400 training. The levels of creatine phosphate had already dropped in half at 100 meters, and the rate of glycolosis didn’t reach its peak until 300 meters. Unfortunately, 400 intervals with only three minutes rest (a workout only a complete masochist would enjoy) were found to be the best workout to build up muscular tolerance to acidity. Intervals over 400m were shown to be ineffective because creatine phosphate levels were too low for any real benefit.

I hope that all of this hasn’t confused you. In essence the Finn’s research helped Anderson conclude that a good 400 training program needs the following:

1. 100s run at close to full speed with full recoveries (5-8 minutes)
2. 300s run at close to full speed with full recoveries (8 minutes or longer)
3. 400s run at close to full speed with short recoveries (3 minutes)

These guidelines offer quarter milers a scientific road map to design an effective workout program, but it is not written in stone anywhere that you should only run 100s, 300s and 400s while training. I briefly trained with the Santa Monica Track Club in college, and still incorporate workouts learned from Joe Douglas, the Santa Monica Track Club head coach, and John Smith, the UCLA head coach. They taught me to run 350s for time and then add 7 seconds early in the season and 6 seconds late in the season to get my equivalent 400 time. This technique allows you to run more relaxed in training, since you don’t have the final painful 50 meters of the 400 looming in the back of your mind.

Over the past few years I have consulted with Brooks Johnson, the former US Olympic coach, whose training philosophies almost mirror Owen Anderson’s. In a nutshell Johnson’s sprint theories are the following:

1. Speed is a runners greatest asset and should be trained from day one. Athletes need to train at speeds faster than race pace, so that race pace becomes their "comfort zone." Two speed workouts per week are recommended for 400 runners. Example: (6X30m w/370 walk/jog rec.)
2. Train to increase your lactic acid tolerance and base twice a week. Example: (6X300 in sets of 2 with a quick 100m jog recovery. Allow full recovery between sets.)
3. The oxygen system should be trained once per week. Example: (20 minute easy jog followed by 20 minutes of easy form strides)
4. Athletes should take two days off per week to allow their bodies to fully recuperate from training. The conclusions of the Finnish study dovetail with the proven training techniques of the four coaches quoted here. With the resources available, you should be able to construct a solid training program. I have constructed a few sample weekly programs below to get you started.

Early Season

Mon 3-4 X 300 w/full rec.

Tue 7-8 X 100 w/full rec.

Wed 20 minute easy jog w/20 minutes of easy strides

Thu rest

Fri 6 X 30 w/370 jog rec. & 3 X 100 w/300 jog rec.

Sat 2 sets of 300-jog-100-300 or 3-4 X 350 w/3 min. rec.

Sun rest

Mid Season (lacking speed)

Mon 2 sets of 300-100jog-300

Tue 8-10 X 100 w/5 min. rec.

Wed 20 min. easy jog w/20 min. of easy strides

Thu 6-12 X 30m w/370 jog or walk rec.

Fre rest

Sat race

Sun rest

Mid Season (lacking stamina)

Mon 2 sets of 300-100jog-300

Tue 8-10 X 100 w/5 min. rec.

Wed 20 min. easy jog w/20 min. of strides

Thu 2-3 X 350 w/3 min. rec.

Fri rest

Sat race

Sun rest

Peaking Season

Mon 2 sets of 300-100jog-300 or 3X 350 w/3 min. rec.

Tue 20 min. easy jog w/20 min. of strides

Wed 3-4 X 150 w/full rec.

Thr 6 X 30 w/370 walk rec.

Fri rest

Sat race

Sun rest


Anderson, O., Ph.D. (1992). Step by Step Through 400 Meters: Understanding the process can help your training and racing. Running Research News, Volume 8, Number 6, 5-7.

Johnson, B. (1995) Coaches Notebook.

Copyright � 2008 Phil Murray

Andrew Meyer
05-11-2009, 10:02 PM
Little bit of anecdotal on training and the 400m.

This past track season(I'm a senior in high school) I was desperately trying to train for the 100m/200m/long jump. All the sprinters on the team trained the same, usually repeat 200s/100s with little rest. Every now and then we'd run 150/250 full speed sprints, to smoke our systems. At the beginning, we did lots of hill sprints at the nearby park.

Now, my main sport is ice hockey and I really haven't done much run training since I was maybe 15 years old. I joined track after coming off a rough season of Juniors and wanted to build some more speed. After about a week of practice(5x a week) I developed debilitating shin splints(probably because of very little running background and poor calve strength due to hockey), but I fought through them.

But the workouts were working for my 200m. My first meet I ran a pathetic 26.1s with a 12.5s 100m. By our third meet, my 200m PR had dropped to 24.3s and my 100m down to an 11.7s. This is when I seemed to plateau, and I know now, why. The training changed. My coaches decided the sprinters need more endurance(sprinters!) and started doing workouts combining distance and sprinters in mid-distance. Usually repeat 500s or 800s. Because of this, my coaches realized my proficiency at running 400s. I have "a good stride and a strong kick". They threw me into the 4x400m team and we took silver in our next meet. I ran first leg, 55s without ever running an open 4 in my life.

Good, I found what I was good at. The following week, with some TLC for my shins, I ran the open 400m in our home meet. I ran a 52.65s. I was ecstatic. But things got bad, my shin splints were really catching up to me, I wasn't able to finish practice and finished the season with the majority of my runs from 54-55(consistent). I want to contribute this to both a lack of speed work/adequate rest in practice and too much distance work. I felt the best and most ready for competition when training was intense w/ lots of rest between runs. This same thing works for me in the weight room also, keeping my lifts HEAVY with lots of rest between sets. I tend to thrive on no-conditioning regimens, seeing as how they tend to burn me out or leave me chronically sore.

Just my 2 cents. I'd say stick to the speed work.

Another little idea that just struck me.. I ran on the weekends a couple times and took a friend out to the track to run some sprints with me who wanted a little something different. When he ran his 200m sprints, he was coming in at around 30s and I was timing them so he wouldn't get lazy. I could jog with his 200m and push him to run harder the entire way. This is because my top speed is much higher than his. It wasn't taxing to run 200m @ 30s. So, wouldn't being able to run a very fast 200/400m be alot easier with an enormously high top speed? This applies to us mortals who aren't near our genetic potential, strength/speed are the most important attributes to endurance in those who dont train specifically for it, correct?