Early Season 400m Training Workouts

Posted by Marc Mangiacotti

A coach asked if I would consider writing an article about early season 400m training.  Here is a look back at a few of my articles that cover this topic.

A while back, I wrote an article entitled, “Circle of Truth.”

This is a workout I use for all sprinters and hurdlers as conditioning in order to avoid going on general “runs” during the early part of the season.

The “Jump Run” article describes a great workout that can truly challenge your athletes. However, it does not take a lot of time to complete.

In this workout, you really get the best bang for your buck with Jump Run Circuits.  I use this workout throughout the year when we are in a time crunch (mid terms).  I also refer to this early in training for general conditioning.

In the “Long Slow Running Builds Long Slow Sprinters” article, I give training recommendations for high school sprinters and hurdlers interested in running cross country, in order to get in specific shape for track season.  My intention was to get all of the positives out of cross country without having a negative effect on sprinting and hurdling.

early season 400m training workouts, 400m training workoutsThough these articles provide a variation of training models for 400m runners, the coach who inquired about 400m training wanted more information on training sprinters and hurdlers early in the season. More specifically, he asked about track training for long and short sprinters and hurdlers that can be done together. Can these athletes possibly do the same workout? If not, how can workouts be tailored to keep these athletes together as much as possible

I started to pick up what he was laying down.  Ultimately, he wanted to know how to train a big group of long and short sprinters and hurdlers together using the same running workouts.

A coach has four choices in this situation:

1) Add volume to the workout for long sprinters.

2) Make the warm up more challenging for the quarter milers.

3) Add something extra to the cool down for the 400m runners.

4) Use a combination of these things (in moderation).


1) Add volume to the workout.

Let’s face it…if you ask your short and long sprinters to do 6 x 200m @ 70% with 90” recovery, the long sprinters would think it is an easy day and the long sprinters might think you are punishing them.  One can always add volume by adding more 200m’s to the workout plan.  This may be the obvious solution based on your athletes. However, if you want to keep everyone together to build camaraderie amongst the group and refrain from creating animosity (“the short sprinters have such an easy workout”), then you may have to rely on one of the other three options.

2) Make the warm up more challenging.

One of things I have done is add a little volume to the long sprinter’s and hurdler’s warm ups.  For example, add extra skipping— if the team usually skips 30m in a portion of the warm up I may have the long sprinters and hurdlers skip 40m-50m.

Another example is to have the long sprinters and hurdlers do a tempo run prior to the workout.

No… not a long tempo run like distance runners do for training.  I’ve had the long sprinters and hurdlers do a moderate 600m-1200m run to make the workout that follows a little more challenging.  I typically decide the distance and pace, based on the athlete’s strengths, weaknesses, and training age.

3) Add something extra to the cool down.

In the past, I have had the long sprinters do some build ups or strides at the end of a workout to add more volume.  Normally, I ask the long sprinters and hurdlers to do a handful of segmented runs for additional training in each session.  These runs can range from 90-150 meters.

If I ask the athletes to do 3 x 90m segmented runs, this would be a 90m build up, getting faster every 30m.  For example, the first 30m would be at 70%, the second 30m at 75%, and the last 30m at 80%.

The total distance of the segmented run, the number of repetitions, and the intensity can be prescribed based on the time of year.  As a coach, you can also alter these based on the outcome of the workout that day. If it seemed easy, alter the segmented runs to make up for the desired effect you were looking for in the workout. If the workout really zapped the long sprinters and hurdlers more than you thought it would, do less of the segmented runs or cut them out completely.

4) Use a combination of these things (in moderation).

As a coach you are like a great chef, but instead of writing food recipes you are writing recipes for athletic excellence.  Sprinkle in the necessary ingredients that make sense in your training to get the desired effects you are looking for in a given day.  You can use any three concepts independently or use a small dose of each to get the training you desire on that day.

Keep in mind:

The population you’re dealing with, as well as your coaching experience, plays a role in your approach.

If you’re an experienced long sprints coach, my Advanced Concepts in 400m Training will supply you with plenty of the tweaks you’re looking to sprinkle into your already effective program.

If you’re in charge of a group of athletes whose primary events fall in that mysterious 400-800 meter range, strongly consider Ron Grigg’s Complete Program Design for HS 400/600/800m Runners.

Finally, if you’re dealing primarily with the big groups, questionable talent and short seasons handicapping most high school coaches, Latif Thomas’s ‘Complete HS 400m Training’ program may be right up your alley.

No matter what you decide, plan your early season 400 meter training workouts around the four suggestions I laid out and you’ll set your 400 meter runners up for consistent personal bests this season.




If you liked this article, follow me of Twitter and Instagram. I post more articles, workouts and photos starting in the fall when the new training season begins:

Twitter: @MarcMangiacotti
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Discover how to plan the perfect balance of speed and endurance training with Ron Grigg’s ‘7 Laws of 400/600/800 Coaching Success.’

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Marc Mangiacotti - Marc Mangiacotti enters his seventh season as an assistant coach with the Crimson for the 2018-19 school year. He oversees the men’s sprinters and hurdles for Harvard University. He is a USA Track & Field Level I and II certified coach in sprints, hurdles, relays, jumps and combined events. Mangiacotti came to Harvard after a two-year tenure at Brown University. During his time in Providence, R.I., he made a big impact on the Bears’ sprinters, coaching five Ivy League champions that combined for nine league titles. He also coached 15 athletes that earned All-Ivy League credentials and saw his group break four school records.

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