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Old 09-05-2007, 05:26 AM   #1
Mike Gray
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Cracking a 1min 400m

Hi guys!

I just read a very similar running thread with a lot of interest, particularly because the poster mentioned the same problem I have on 400m runs. I don't often get the chance, but every once and a while I can go to a real track and try out a measured 400m: I get started terrific, leaning in, swinging my arms like an olympic champ (see CF videos!) and feeling like I could go on for miles. Then, around the 200-250m mark, I simply hit the wall - my legs disappear and I stagger down the final 150-200m like drunken, love-sick hippo, cross the line practically at a walk.

Using this technique (?) I end up right around 1:10.

I'd like to believe I could crack 1min by doing things *right*, but I'm not quite sure how to go about it - and I don't really want to dedicate huge amounts of time to 400m specific training. It would just be a nice feeling ...

Should I get out the stop watch and try to run each 100m in exactly 15 seconds? Or: I have a heart-rate monitor I hardly ever use - should I do something with it?
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Old 09-05-2007, 06:16 AM   #2
Craig Van De Walker
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Re: Cracking a 1min 400m

First off a 1.10 400M is not a bad time especially if you are real slow the second half, you should be at your goal in short order.

A couple of ideas

#1 Run repeat 200-250M intervals with a few minutes rest in between. Do this a couple times a week. Each week increase the length of run by 10-25m until you are at 400M.

#2 Run 400M intervals at a sustainable pace, say 1.25 and each week push it down a few seconds.

#3 Use a few short runs as part of your warm up daily

A HR monitor is just going to give you your Max HR on a 400M, there is no managing HR on an all out 400M IMO, although you could use it with intervals to let you know when your HR recovers enough to start the next run

Last edited by Craig Van De Walker : 09-05-2007 at 06:18 AM.
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Old 09-05-2007, 06:31 AM   #3
Ben Kaminski
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Re: Cracking a 1min 400m

The wall you are hitting sounds like the end of your phosphogenic energy pathway (20 seconds). That leaves you in the glycolytic pathway. I would suggest you focus on training that pathway without ignoring the others (supplement your CF basically), in order to boost it up so you don't crash halfway through your 400.

Hope this helps!
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Old 09-05-2007, 06:40 AM   #4
George Mounce
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Re: Cracking a 1min 400m

Ben hit the nail on the head. You need to train the energy pathway that will continue you to go from the first 20 seconds through the next 40.

World class runners are already almost 1/2 way around the track when they make that shift (WR 43.18 seconds - Michael Johnson, USA).
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Old 09-05-2007, 06:52 AM   #5
Tom Rawls
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Re: Cracking a 1min 400m

You're starting much too fast. Metabolic wastes (lactate and more) are building up quickly and compromise your muscles' ability to function in the second 200 meters.

The 400 is not an all-out sprint like the 100. It requires some pacing. Try going slower in the first half and closing hard. That should improve your time. You won't run any of the lap with your muscles tying up. As you get comfortable running a 400-m lap this way, you can gradually push the early pace.
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Old 09-05-2007, 06:55 AM   #6
David Aguasca
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Re: Cracking a 1min 400m

are you running on your heels or the balls of your feet? i ran a 57.27 400m using track flats.

the thing that i found helped me get past the minute mark (besides more metcon of course :P) was keeping my form when i hit the wall. for me it was around 300-325 meters. keeping my chest open, getting my knees up to where they had to be, and thinking 'aggressive' with each foot strike kept me on pace. all this despite the fact that i had lost all sensation in my legs and couldn't tell how fast i was actually running.
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Old 09-05-2007, 07:07 AM   #7
Mike Gray
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Re: Cracking a 1min 400m

Hmm.

Very interesting stuff, guys!

I was thinking that I need to slow down more at the beginning - pace myself, like - so as not to blow out so bad. But from what I'm hearing you guys say, there no point, since it's two discreet energy thingies at play.

If I'm understanding right, I actually need to jet like nuts for the first 20 sec. to get as far as I possibly can before that first energy thing peters out AND develop the capacity to use the second energy thing well enough to complete the run without collapsing.

Or - at least for a complete newbie hippo like myself - is there an element of pacing involved, too?
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Old 09-05-2007, 07:17 AM   #8
Mike Gray
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Re: Cracking a 1min 400m

Ach -

I've missed a couple posts writing my own.

Just one new question: what are "track flats"? I'm guessing it's a kind of shoe. If so, the four or five times I've tried I had my jogger-hiker-cross shoes. (Salomon XA Pro 3D waterproof and everything - great shoes, but probably not the world's fastest!) I put on a lighter, all purpose crosstrainer last time, but it didn't seem any different.

For now I'll stick to jogger stuff since I've already maxed out my sports budget on CF essentials!

Good point about forcing myself to maintain form even when I fell like dying. A true CrossFit answer!
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Old 09-05-2007, 08:26 AM   #9
Darren Zega
 
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Re: Cracking a 1min 400m

Track spikes and track flats...

Spikes are very light, minimally padded running shoes with a hard gripping rubber outsole and...spikes.

Track flats are the same thing, basically, with...no spikes.

The POSE runners out there run in track flats just about all the time. I suppose you could even consider George's weird, footy shoes (read: Vibram Fivefingers) and extreme kind of racing flat almost. Long story short, lots of padding in a contemporary running shoe is great for heel to toe running and helps reduce the pounding on the knees. For sprints and POSE however, the ankles and calves provide all the shock absorption you need and all a padded shoe does is suck energy out of each stride that could be making you faster.

I should also mention that track flats are a LOT cheaper than the typical running shoe. A GREAT pair of running shoes can cost you nearly $200. A greeat pair of flats will run you $60-80
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Old 09-05-2007, 08:30 AM   #10
Gant Grimes
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Re: Cracking a 1min 400m

Mike, in a past life, I was a hurdler, but I could turn in a 50-52 second 400 (I'm not even close to that now).

The 400 is as close to running hell as you can get. It's a sprint; even though you "pace" a little, you have to be in good condition to run a good time. 1:10 is not a bad time, and with practice you can get there. You just need to plan your race.

First of all, you're probably starting out right. You're just dying at the end.

First 100 meters. Start out hot, probably about 95%. You want to charge hard but maintain some control. Feel the curve. Run on the inside of the lane. Hands are relaxed and touch cheek to cheek.

Second 100 meters. You can relax a little, but not much. Cruise at 90-92%. Enjoy the wind in your hair while you concentrate on form. Run the straight with good stride length and good breathing. It's about to get messy.

Third 100 meters. The race starts here. Accelerate when you hit the curve. Pay attention to your lane position. Visualize running on a banked track as you bend around the curve. You should be at 95% by 250m. As you approach the straight, you're at full speed. Keep leaning until 275m and slingshot out of the curve.

Fourth 100 meters. It's nut-cuttin' time, baby! Blow out of the curve and run for the prize. 300-350 meters can still feel theoretically good, even though your body is turning into a lactic acid dumping ground. Concentrate on form as you're coming unglued. Run the first 50 as fast as you can. The last 50 meters of a properly run is like a very enjoyable near-death experience. Command your legs to run faster, even if you can't. Keep your arms in tight and don't flail. Drive your knees, maintain your forward lean (unless your Michael Johnson) and break the tape. You can throw up later.

If a sub-minute 400 is a goal, you need to learn to practice proper running form, learn to run curves, increase your speed, and improve your lactate threshold on the track. If you want to get there quick, spend a couple days a week on the track. Start each day with strides and high-knee exercises. Work on sprints on the first day. Sprint the curves (100m), walk the straights. Do this for 10 sprints. Finish with 5 200m all-out sprints. On the second day, do your warmup. Then work on your start. Do about 10 50s (a proper start can save you 1-2 seconds in the first 100m). Then run 3 400s and 2 600s. These will kick your ***! If you want to do a Tabata day to mix things up, that would probably help, too.

Best of luck.
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