The 400 Meter Race: Getting Better

Guns shoot! You’re out the blocks and sprinting the first curve. Everything is going well. You have plenty of energy left, arms are pumping legs are explosive. You finish the first curve and now you have a looong strait-away. You open your stride and as you are doing this your arms start to tire and you’re breathing heavier. You are now half way done with the race and it is time to give it all you got. Your muscles start to burn and you ask yourself can I keep this up around the last bin? You jump on the homestretch and all of a sudden a gorilla jumps on your back!!! You still want to finish so you continue to pump but as you do so more gorillas jump on! You feel terrible and you want to stop. Arms aren’t functioning, your legs have shutdown and your feet are barely coming off the ground. You finish and your biceps, butt, and hamstring are burning!!! Congratulations you have just ran a quarter of a mile as fast as you can!


What is the 400 meter? Well for starters, it’s a basic race that is one lap around a regular outdoor track. Seems easy enough right? Wrong! This is the second toughest race in track and field behind the 400 meter hurdles. This race combines your sprinting speed and your muscle endurance. Maximum sprint speed capability is a significant contributing factor to success in this event, however, athletes also require substantial speed endurance and the ability to cope well with high amounts of lactic acid to sustain a fast speed over a whole lap. Lactic acids build up in your muscles when you add a large amount of stress to it. When you think about it, this race is the ultimate athlete test. It uses your muscle strength, your muscle explosion, and your muscle endurance. Which means people who excel in the 100 meter or pure sprints can’t run this race well because they lack muscle endurance while distance runner lack explosion and speed reserve.

How do you train for it? Well, there are lots of ways you can train for this race. You can take the endurance approach or the sprinting approach. The endurance approach uses methods that will help you in the later half of the race. These methods are running workouts further than 400 meters. Users of this method usually run 600s or 500s along with using weights to keep their strength up. The sprinting approach is the method I like to use. This method uses shorter distance and high repetition. Examples can be 4×300 at about 90% of your 400 pace, 8×200 at 75% of your 400 pace and 6x150s at about 110% of your 400 pace (sprinting). You wont get better at the 400 by simply running. You have to put in hours in the weight room lifting light with high repetition. I advise 6×15 reps. Another extremely effective workout is arm pumpers or what I like to call “10 minutes of Hell.” Grab a dumbbell (I use 25lbs) and pump your arms as if you’re running for 45 seconds. After time is up you rest for 45 seconds and pump again for 45 seconds. You will do this six times. It will burn intensely but it will definitely pay off! This workout allows your arms to work under stress for an outstanding amount of time. The faster you pump your arms the faster your legs will move. If you don’t believe me sit on the floor and pump your arms as fast as you can. Also every time you finish your 400 race whatever part of your body is burning the most, work that area out. How do you train for the 400?


3 thoughts on “The 400 Meter Race: Getting Better

  1. I totally agree that the 400m is a ridiculously tough race, although I’d beg to differ that the 800m is a bit harder haha. I ran both those along side with the mile and the 800m was easily harder, you basically run a 400m as fast as you can and stride the second half, at least that is what it feels like. Have you ever ran an 800m in a meet?

    • I’ve ran an 800 in a meet before and it is hard. It put more strain on my breathing than my muscles. If you run the 400m with the perfect strategy it will feel slightly worst than the 800m in the final stretch. It’s a race the breaks down your body in just 30 seconds if you think about it. Recovering from the 400 is a lot easier than recovering from the 800 and mile though.

  2. Pingback: Endurance Training |

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