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The 400 meters, also known as the 400-meter dash, is a thrilling sprint event in track and field. It has been a part of the Summer Olympics since 1896 for men and 1964 for women. During this race, athletes sprint around the track for one lap. They start from staggered positions and stay in their designated lanes throughout the race. In the past, the distance was measured as 440 yards (402.336 m), equivalent to a quarter-mile. However, the standard distance now is 400 meters (437.445 yards). In this blog, let us have a look at how to prepare and approach a 400m race.
How to Prepare & Approach a 400m race
|Starts and Acceleration
|Emphasis on a good start and efficient acceleration for quick race speed
|Focus on improving top-end speed through technique and sprint drills
|Developing the ability to sustain near-maximal speed for a longer distance with extended recovery periods
|Lactic Acid Tolerance
|Training to increase the body’s tolerance to higher levels of lactate/lactic acid for better performance in the final stretch
|Incorporating weight training exercises to enhance overall athletic performance
|Dividing the training year into conditioning, pre-competition, and competition phases with specific focuses
A Good Start
While not as critical as in shorter sprints, a good start and efficient acceleration are still essential for 400m runners to reach race speed quickly and effectively.
Improving top-end speed is crucial for 400m runners since running faster at maximum effort translates to quicker race times when running at 90% effort.
The ability to sustain near-maximal speed for a longer distance is key in 400m running. This involves running repetitions of up to 150m (or longer for elite athletes) with extended recovery periods to maintain the required speed.
The outcome of many 400m races is often determined in the last 100m, with the winner being the athlete who slows down the least. To develop this ability, workouts are designed to increase the body’s tolerance to higher levels of lactate/lactic acid. Some exercises that can help improve lactic tolerance are HIIT, Tempo Runs, Circuit Training, Hill Sprints, CrossFit Workouts, etc.
In addition to the aforementioned elements, having a foundation of fitness and strength is crucial for 400m runners. Weight training exercises are recommended to enhance overall athletic performance. The weight training exercises includes, squats, deadlifts, lunges, calf raises, hip thrusts, planks, etc.
The training for 400m runners is typically divided into three phases: conditioning, pre-competition, and competition phases. Each phase has specific focuses and workout examples to prepare the athlete accordingly.
The conditioning phase in training for a 400m race is crucial to develop the necessary endurance, speed, and strength required for optimal performance. Athletes focus on a combination of long-distance running, interval training, strength exercises, and proper recovery techniques to enhance their overall fitness and race-specific abilities.
As the pre-competition phase begins, repetitions decrease while intensity increases. This is a critical time for lactic acid tolerance training. Athletes fine-tune their techniques, build stamina, and mentally prepare themselves to deliver their best performance on the track.
4 x 40m sprints with 5 minutes of rest before a speed endurance session.
Speed becomes crucial during race time. Athletes strive to peak at the right time, aiming to deliver their best performance on race day. It is a period of meticulous preparation and mental fortitude, as athletes push their limits in pursuit of success on the track.
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4 x 30m sprints from blocks, 3 x “flying” 30m sprints (build up for 20m, then sprint flat out for 30m), and 3 x 30m overspeed sprints (using a bungee or slight downgrade).
Training for the 400 meter race requires a comprehensive approach, focusing on starts, acceleration, maximum speed, speed endurance, lactic tolerance, and overall fitness. Properly structured training phases and specific workouts contribute to the athlete’s success in the event.
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