Even though I have been making hurdle contributions, I have had some success at 400 meters, and 400 meter workout. I wanted to share one of the more useful 400 meter sprint drills I have come across in the last 10-15 years. I got it from the “Gopher State”, and former head Minnesota University Track coach, Phil Lundin (currently head coach for St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota). During his tenure at Minnesota, Phil’s 400 meter men were always solid, highlighted by the performances of Adam Steele (1st place 44.57) and Mitch Potter (3rd place 44.58) at the 2003 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track Championships. I was encouraged to contact coach Lundin by Dan Pfaff as we were discussing 400 meter training and how I could get my young men to run the whole race without the usual race hiccups I was seeing.
The hiccups were getting out too fast and dying in the stretch, not getting out fast enough and having to run hard the last 300 meters, or just an overall malaise until the last 100 meters when they try a mad rush. At one point in their experiences, all of these racing mistakes did not result in getting beat because they were genetically superior. But those racing errors become glaring problems when you face 7 other fine 400 men (or women) who are equal in ability. At that point, proper race distribution becomes my focal point. I have tried running split 200’s (1st 200 with short recoveries followed by the 2nsd 200), in and out 200’s (running 0-200, 100-300, and then a 200-400 with short recoveries), hard 300’s with short recoveries and push the last 100, and repeat 350’s. All of which are fine workouts, but I was still not getting the feel of the run for my quarter-milers.
That’s when Coach Lundin was kind enough to speak to me about his workout he called “133’s.” Here’s how you set up the track:
You set up 2 double cones at 123 and 133 meters, and 266 and 256 meters. Now the fun starts!
Block start to 133 meters (which teaches an aggressive 60 meter start and how to take your foot off the gas without losing the benefits of the acceleration as you run off the turn). Walk back to the 123m (you only get 60 seconds of recovery. Standing at the 123 you then accelerate and the coach does not start their watch until they hit the 133 cone. This teaches how to “float fast” down the backstretch and still produce some aggression going into the turn. Running the whole 2nd turn is a lost art in quality 400 meter runs. Repeat the process giving your kid 60 seconds as they walk back to the 256. Again you don’t start your watch until they reach the 256 and run off the turn as they head for the finish (133 actual meters). This section teaches you how to run off the turn and staying focused on frequency and floating home as fast as possible.
I give my 400 runners a 60 second recovery between the reps, and 10-12 minutes between the sets depending on how tough the kid is. I have run as many as 4 sets (the more sets you run add 30 seconds to the recovery) and sometimes my “400 babies” were only able to hit two. Remember with high school sprinters, the number of “Got To’s” (things you gotta do all out) can wear them down so they have no emotional stomach for the biggest races at the end of the year. With that in mind, a 133 workout, a Wednesday, and Saturday track meet is a bad idea. But it’s a great 400 meter workout early in the year and as a sharpener when you only have one meet that week.
I also like to put a cone 100 meters left to go of the last 133 (256 to the wire) so I can gauge if they are running the last 100 meters with the relaxed aggression needed.
60 59 58 57 56 55 52 51 50 59 48 47
20 19.6 19.3 19 18.6 18.3 17.3 17 16.6 16.3 16 15.6
What also makes this a tough run is due to the accelerations required to hit the running time. In an actual 400, you only have to hit your acceleration once. But in the 133 workout, you have to forcefully accelerate to race velocity three times and hit the pace. This makes it a doubly difficult workout. It’s a good one but not one you would run more than once every 2-3 weeks.