T Nation

400-Meter Sprints


#1

Who does these? I have found a new favourite CV fitness tool.

I am yet to do them but I done a 350m sprint today around a cricket pitch when walking the dog. I managed it in 66 seconds (could have done it quicker but I lost the willpower to carry on sprinting the last 50 meters). I reckon I'd have managed the 400m in under 80 seconds. It was the furthest I have ever sprinted and I felt like I was pulling a car for the last 50 or so meters.

What is considered a decent time in the 400m for an untrained regular bloke? (I do an occasional 100m sprint session just to keep my fitness up and get about 12.5 seconds on a good day.)


#2

I do these sometimes. My PR is around 57 seconds (hand timed) at a body weight of about 215lbs and 30+ years of age. The last 75m were horrible and, as you allude to, an effort of pure will to keep my stride rate up. I doubt I could hit that right now. Overall, I find it to be one of the more useful training distances for my goals.

However right now my bread and butter is the 300m shuttle run (i.e. Set 2 points 25 apart, sprint from one to the other touch the line cut back and sprint to the other and so on. 12x is 300m). I find it feels similar to 400m in terms of exertion, but with the added agility elements of rapid direction changes and acceleration/deceleration. These start easy but leave you thoroughly gassed by about turn 9, in my experience.

I’ll usually do about 4 rounds of this, 6 would probably be better. Generally do this as a wait till my heart rate comes down a bit and repeat style interval, which usually amounts to a total combined work/rest cycle of around 2:30 so the whole workout (minus warm up and cool down) takes 10-12 minutes.

killerDIRK lays out some guidelines for “respectable” times at varying distances (as well as some other useful info) in the “catch your breath HIIT rest” thread going on this board. Sub 75 seconds is commonly thrown out as a decent 400m time for a reasonably fit person who doesn’t really focus on running.

Edited


#3

I can run 400m at a sub 75s pace multiple times. The most I’ve done is 6 in one session and I did not time rest periods. I was able to maintain form throughout all sprints, but the last 2 sprints the times crept up.

My best ever time was 65s but after that I was not able to maintain form on sprints for the rest of the session. Finding a good pace to train at is tricky, my gut feeling is trying to go all out on every sprint is not conducive to progression and possibly dangerous

As long as you are completing the 400m at close to a sprint you should feel good. The truth is 400m sprints are absolutely horrible and any weaker willed person would basically just give up and turn it into a jog when they hit the last 150m


#4

[quote]Facepalm_Death wrote:
I can run 400m at a sub 75s pace multiple times. The most I’ve done is 6 in one session and I did not time rest periods. I was able to maintain form throughout all sprints, but the last 2 sprints the times crept up.

My best ever time was 65s but after that I was not able to maintain form on sprints for the rest of the session. Finding a good pace to train at is tricky, my gut feeling is trying to go all out on every sprint is not conducive to progression and possibly dangerous

As long as you are completing the 400m at close to a sprint you should feel good. The truth is 400m sprints are absolutely horrible and any weaker willed person would basically just give up and turn it into a jog when they hit the last 150m
[/quote]

Pretty much agree with this. If you truly go “all out” you won’t likely recover well enough to truly sprint your subsequent efforts. 6x 400m at 75-85% effort with good form is, IMO, far more productive than 1x 400m at 95% effort + 1x 400m at 75% effort starting to fall apart + 4x 400m plodding around the track at 65% effort totally gassed. By no means an expert on the subject though.


#5

75 seconds is five minute mile pace, which is incredibly fast for an untrained runner. I was a middle-distance runner in high school, and the most brutal workout we did was 10x400m at mile pace with one minute of rest between runs. One of my teammates was able to run these around 60-62 seconds (he won the HS mile of America championship at Penn Relays with a 4:10).

I try to mix up my track workouts with distances varying from 200-800m. I’m really a big fan of 300m runs; I think these are tougher to rationalize slowing down than 400m. One of my staples in my workouts now is 5x300m with one minute of rest between runs. Those 300s can get ugly fast.


#6

[quote]MikeFitz3 wrote:
75 seconds is five minute mile pace, which is incredibly fast for an untrained runner. I was a middle-distance runner in high school, and the most brutal workout we did was 10x400m at mile pace with one minute of rest between runs. One of my teammates was able to run these around 60-62 seconds (he won the HS mile of America championship at Penn Relays with a 4:10).

I try to mix up my track workouts with distances varying from 200-800m. I’m really a big fan of 300m runs; I think these are tougher to rationalize slowing down than 400m. One of my staples in my workouts now is 5x300m with one minute of rest between runs. Those 300s can get ugly fast. [/quote]

I might just sub that 5x300 in for the workout I had planned tonight. I expect the last 2 rounds suck and suck hard.


#7

I do something similar, but my route is probably about 320 meters.

In-between runs I walk to catch my breath for about 90 seconds before I go again. Usually mange 4-5 repeats and I am done. Nothing gets me fitter and leaner than this. Once a week is all that is needed, and then another day of the week I prefer shorter sprints of about 50m, for about 10 repeats.

I cant wait to start this up again once I recover from my injury.

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#8

Yup, agree with a lot of what’s been said here. I’m getting close to 40 now, and these longer distance sprints have been the fountain of youth for me. Been doing them fairly regularly as my only form of “cardio” for over 15 years now. I’ve found that doing 2 workouts per week is all I need (in addition to my weightlifting workouts), and I try to mix up distances. So maybe I’ll do 4, 400 meters one day, and then do 6-8, 200s the other…Or even 10, 100-meter sprints.

Or a lot of times I’ll do a mix of all 3 distances in one workout. I’ve learned you don’t need that much volume with this stuff, either. 4, 400s is a great workout, provided you are pushing yourself in those sprints and timing yourself to improve or at least maintain from previous workouts. The older I get, the worse the “risk-reward” ratio gets with doing short distance sprints, so stuff above 100 meters allows me to get the high-intensity work in without too many injuries.


#9

In my experience, the top three most heinous things I’ve done in terms of exercise are:

  1. 400m all out sprint
  2. 2000m C2 erg time trial
  3. 20 rep squat

The last 100m of the 400m sprint, I literally could not feel my legs or arms. Good times.


#10

I have been running barefoot on the beach 400 m sprints for almost a year now. I am 6’5’’, 205, 51 with no real running experience. I started out running the 400 in about 75-78 seconds. Now I break a minute most times and have run 57-58 quite a few times. I usually rest about 3-4 minutes in-between.

It shreds me and I need to eat more to keep weight on. I run a reverse pyramid based on my on practice and studies with extreme training that also does not stress the CNS.

The most unsuspected part though has been how much more open my lower back, hamstrings and upper back have become since sprinting. But there were lots of weird aches and pains all over my lower body until I figured out how to sprint effectively.