What is The Best Way to train 400m runners?

Posted by Latif Thomas

Within the world of 400m coaching, there lies a spectrum of viable approaches we can take to elicit respectable performances out of our sprinters, regardless of age, gender or innate talent level, especially when you want to train 400m runners.

Combine my lack of belief in concepts like ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ with being hypercompetitive well beyond the point of character flaw, I struggle to find the ‘best’ approach to take.

On the one hand, if you have a bunch of freaks on your team you can cater to their strengths, train them fast all the time, and they will run fast 400s.

Clyde Hart, Director of Track and Field at Baylor University.

Clyde Hart, Director of Track and Field at Baylor University. Has a different approach to train 400m runners than I do

On the other hand, if you have a bunch of freaks on your team and you want to Clyde Hart them, you can train them slow and since they’re already freaks, the ones that don’t get injured or burn out from all the volume will…run fast 400s.

Now, I coach at a Catholic School with 400 boys…

…and Jamaicans don’t really go to Catholic school.

So the approach taken by those living on the fringes doesn’t really apply to my world. Though I will say this:

I’ve tried to entertain/embrace more of a ‘train slow to run fast’ approach. But, when I watch people run the 400, whether my athletes or others, high schoolers or Olympians, it seems plain as day (to me) that the key to running a fast 400 is being able to run a fast 200 which relies on being able to run a fast 100. So, speed reserve.

And, since it is on my mind, I want to share a 400m training article today that does an excellent job of showing a ‘middle path’ approach that those of us in the Real World can apply. I try to use this approach on both a single season basis, but also as part of my ‘four year plan’. As you read, try to expand your view of the process in those terms.

The article is written by Jacksonville University’s Ron Grigg. Ron is one of those coaches I put in the category of ‘much smarter than I am’. And he has helped me considerably in all areas of coaching, especially when you want to train 400m runners.

(Ron will be back again as one of our lead instructors at this summer’s Complete Track and Field Clinic. If you want your athletes to get some great coaching or, you, as a coach or parent, want to become a better coach overnight, I highly recommend you join us at Brown University in July.)

Take a good look at Ron’s article ‘4 Goals of 400m Training’.

To your success,

Latif Thomas

Twitter: @latif_thomas

Latif Thomas - Latif Thomas owns and operates Complete Track and Field and serves as the Co-Director of the Complete Track and Field Clinic at Harvard University, the largest track and field clinic in the United States. A popular speaker and presenter at some of the largest coaching clinics across the country, Latif has true passion for the sport and it definitely shows. Over the past 19 years, he has coached more combined League, Division, All-State, and New England Champions in sprints, hurdles, and jumps than he can count. Follow @latif_thomas on Twitter.

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