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Better my 400m dash time

Answered By Jeff Arbogast


What can i do to improve my 400m dash time and my 800m time? I'm a sophomore in high school. My best 800m time of the year was 2:16 and my best 400m dash time was 58 seconds. I'm also getting ready to start running summer track this summer for a local track club.


You have a variety of things to look at as you start to improve the long sprints. First, as always, take care of hydration, nutrition, and rest issues as they are critical to recovery from hard days. Next, understand that improving in the long sprints requires you to think and train like a sprinter. You can run about 300m of the 400m race 'flat out' but then the accumulated lactic acid will cause you to fatigue, so your training for that race should include some components that will affect lactic acid buffering and clearing as well as aerobic strength to maintain form. Once every microcycle (week) you should have a 'hard' day that stresses repeat 200m-250m bursts at 95-98% of your race pace followed by a 1.5 factoring of the rest (40 second repeats = 60 seconds rest). We are trying to keep you from being fully recovered as you do 6-10 of those. Your second hard day would be 4-6 x 500m-600m accelerations to top speed in the last 100m with a 1:1 rest for aerobic endurance. The third and last hard day of the week should be a 'turnover' day of a short speed ladder from 50m to 200m all run as hard accelerations, or "Flying 40s" where you 'roll' into a 40m hard sprint every 2:00-2:30 to allow ATP (your sprint ability) to regenerate. 8-12 of those. The 800m has a much higher ratio of aerobic necessity than the 400. Strong running of the 800 requires some ability to hold 'speed-endurance' so you need to have strength and speed combined. You should use the 400m basic ideas for training and add a last component of strength such as a moderately long (2.5-3.5 miles) sustained 'power' run or hard fartlek. Other aspects of the 800 are complex and there is a larger article we can make available to YouthRunner. Look for that soon!