In Depth-400m

Above are 18 videos on the 400m regarding: technique, lowering times, etc.



The Phases of a 400m

  1. 0-10m — the first 7 steps
  2. 10-60m
  3. 60-200m
  4. 200-315m
  5. 315-400m


Events that require strength and power utilize the ATP/CP energy stores. With the ATP/CP energy system it a matter of  use it or lose it.  So you might as well use it.  We have discussed the energy systems associated with sprinting and enhanced sports performance before but to better illustrate it for this article here is a brief synopsis of exercise physiology and how it relates to the phases described above.

  • 0-1 sec – ATP/CP (i.e. shot put)
  • 1-7 sec – Anaerobic (i.e. 60 meters)
  • 7-40 sec – Anaerobic Alactic (i.e. 100-200m)
  • 40 sec – 2 min – Anaerobic Lactic (i.e. 400-800m)

Generally speaking , an athlete takes 7 strides or steps to the 10 meter mark out of the blocks.  We use an acceleration ladder for optimizing and lengthening the stride pattern and stride frequency out of the blocks. If you have used ladders or a similar drill in practice, then it’s simply replicating what you do in practice a thousand times. In the first 7 steps go around 95-99% max speed.


Based on our training approach this first 40-60m would be our drive phase. How far you want to go hard is up to you, but make sure you have it pre-determined beforehand.  Some like 50m hard because it’s a nice even number and I’ve heard some coaches say run the turn “like your you’re running the 55m dash!” In terms of land marks, you can use a piece of tape on the track (if it’s legal) and tell your athletes to run hard until you reach that tape. When you do a practice start with your blocks, make sure that tape is still there, then walk back slowly and take off your sweats and wait for the whistle for “On your marks”


This will be the fastest zone of the race in terms of average speed. The initial 10-60m will be the fastest top-end instantaneous speed, but if you were to take 50 meter segments, or 100 meter segments, this is the zone where the splits are the fastest.

If you have a nice tailwind here, take advantage of it and get out fast but relaxed. Why? Because you’ll be tired on the homestretch when that 800lbs gorilla jumps on your back and deceleration starts to takes come into play.  Again, it’s one of those “use it or lose it” clichés.

The goal here should be to run the opening 200m within 1 second of the athletes best 200m time.  But the differential between the splits differ with every runner, even at the world level. If your opening 200m is within 1 second of their best 200m, with the 2nd half about 2 seconds slower than the first, then the simple formula to determine your 400m time potential is doubled your best 200 plus 4 seconds:

i.e. best 200 = 21, so split 22 + 24 = 46.

For the 400m specialist with the proper speed and special endurance background and training, we use the traditional “doubled 200m plus 3.5 seconds” formula to give:

i.e. best 200 = 21, so split 22 + 23.5 = 45.5

Thus a differential of 1.5 to 2 seconds between the first 200 and second 200.

If you take a look at the IAAF Biomechanical Analysis from Berlin 2009, Renny Quow from Trinidad is the only sprinter in the group with near even splits, similar to Akron Archbishop Hoban High School  alum, Butch Reynolds. Otherwise, a differential between 1 and 3 seconds is the norm.


This is the zone where most races are won or lost. If you have Lane 8, this zone is 139 meters, not 100! Lee Evans quotes, “The race starts at the 200-meter mark” You must be prepared to dig or attack the curve. Michael Johnson calls this “position” and this is where you can pick-off the runners in the lanes ahead, if you haven’t caught them already on the backstretch.

In a way, it is very similar to uphill running. You must use extra power. You must mentally pick up the pace when you are really slowing down.

 Somewhere around the 250m mark,that 800lb gorilla hitches along for the ride and the race  starts to hurt and you will have to decide whether you want to “win, place or show.”


This is the part of the race that generally separates the men from the boys and you have to finish with what you have left.   This is also where you must have faith in your training if you expect to finish the race. As you are decelerating, you should try to increase or at least maintain stride length. Again, maintaining form is important.   If your arms are still feeling good, and they should, then by all means use arms.  Get knee lift. Stay relaxed. Stay tall.

Always run through the finish (or 402m) instead of 400m and always lean for the tape no matter if you are winning or not.  Especially in timed sections or qualifying rounds, where 0.01 makes the difference between advancing and watching the Finals from the stands!


I read once that the 400 meters is often referred to as the man killer in track. The 400 race causes a build up of lactic acid in the muscles that almost paralyzes the runner with painThe untrained runner finds it nearly impossible to continue at any reasonable speed.   Folks who are familiar track call this uncomfortable feeling “rigor mortis”  – we call it “butt-lock!”

That being said,  training for the rigorous demands of the 400 meters is important and having  race strategy is critical to being successful in one of track and fields most demanding events.



I will be summarizing the 20 pages for you, but i highly recommend reading the pages I bolden!


  • 400m is an endurance sprint


  • success in the 400m is determined by:
    • distributing one’s speed and energies efficiently over the total distance
    • good pace judgement
  • the 400m is not an all-out sprint
  • good predicting formula:
    • 0-200m: PB 200m + 1-2 sec
    • 200-400m: PB 200m + 2-3 sec
    • SIMPLY— (PB 200m x 2) + 3-5 sec


  • the training of the 400m runner is divided into 4 segments:
    • Off-Season (Sept. – Dec.)
    • Early Season (Jan. – Feb.)
    • Mid-Season (March – April)
    • Late Season (May – June)

Types of Workouts: (PAGE 3-5)

  • Speed Endurance
    • definite lactic acid buildup caused by high-oxygen debt
    • distances vary from 100-600m
    • total distance ran should be ~900-1200m
    • recovery period of ~8-10 minutes for “full” rest
    • designed to help lactic acid energy systems
  • Tempo Endurance
    • increases oxygen uptake
    • shorten recovery time
    • allows for more and longer workouts
    • slower paced aerobic workouts
    • lets runners learn rhythm
    • rest time is 2-3 minutes
  • Strength Endurance
    • activities lasting longer than 10 seconds
    • activities like uphill running and resistance runs
  • Endurance Running
    • pure aerobic running
    • consists of 15-45 minute long runs
    • improves oxygen uptake
  • Power Speed
    • emphasizes muscle contracting workouts
    • <10 reps and <10 seconds per rep
  • Event Running
    • runner does different runs to use pre-determined race strategy
    • AKA segment running
  • Speed
    • 30-150m runs
    • done at full speed
    • full recovery rest
  • Strength
    • weightlifting
    • general and specific muscle or coordination development
    • recommended use of plyometrics


400m exercises

Above is page 10 from the PDF. There are obviously more but these were just some examples that he put in.

The last 10 pages are a 12 point summary written in very big letters. Anyways check out the PDF using the link mentioned above. It will give you all the info. you need!


  1. Don’t eat or drink anything right before the race because it will cause cramps, but be sure to eat well a while before and stay hydrated.
  2. Run shorter races like the 100 and the 200 to improve your speed for the race. If you run enough of these it will improve your speed and give you an idea of how close to your top speed you are going.
  3. Run the 800 and mile help for endurance in the 400, but running any further becomes less helpful because it starts to focus too heavily on aerobic endurance over anaerobic endurance, which is the opposite of what the 400 is about.
  4. Lift light weights with high repetitions to help your muscles get used to fatigue and handle it better.
  5. Talk yourself into it. To run a 400 at your best you have to really want and be pumped about it. Get yourself excited about the race.




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