The 400-meter dash is the longest of the sprints and possibly the most demanding race in track and field. The women's 400 is a measure of how far an athlete can run at maximum speed and how hard she can push herself for the remainder of the race after fatigue sets in. It requires the strategy and endurance of a middle-distance race, but the raw speed of a short sprint. Training requires almost equal proportions of speed and endurance training.
Understand the methodology of running the race so you can train in a manner that allows you to overcome the challenges. Break the race into four legs: the first 100 meters, the second, third and fourth. Each leg of the race poses a different challenge.
Push hard the first 100 meters but stay relaxed. The first 100 meters is on a curve, so lean into the curve and keep your steps short. Stride out the second 100 meters. This legs is on a straight away. Lengthen your stride by overextending your arms behind you and in front of you as your pump them. Keep your breaths consistent and deep.
Maintain your speed on the second curve. Do not make the mistake of allowing your self to slow, even though fatigue typically sets in after the 200-meter mark. Lean into the curve and shorten your steps. As you come out of the curve, go for broke. Don't worry about relaxing. Push your body as hard and you can. Concentrate on fast steps and pumping your arms to the finish.
Training for Race
Speed train for every leg of the race. Divide your training into the start of the race, the middle and the end. To train for the start of the race, run distances of 100, 150 and 200 meters. Run from 200 to 300 meters to train for the middle of the race. To finish the last 100 meters of the race strong, train running distances of 350 to 450 meters. .
Increase your endurance. While it sounds counterproductive, do this by sprinting more. More precisely, shorten the rest time between your training sprints. For example, if your routine includes 10 100-meter sprints with a rest time of three minutes between each, shorten the rest time to one minute.
Concentrate on dividing your race into legs as you train. For example, when you are training to improve your middle race time, focus on the transition from the shorter steps and lean of the first curve to the lengthened stride of the back stretch, and then back into lean and push of the last curve.
Items you will need
- 400-meter track
- SpeedEndurance.com: 400 Meter Training from Supertraining
- USA Track & Field: 400 Meter Training
- TexasTrack.com: Effective Training for a Grueling Race
- Universal Athletic: How to Train for the 400-Meter Dash
- Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images