Need for Speed

Brain wrote the following as a response to my post on speed:
In my event the 400m, training regimes are somewhat of a mystery. Jeremy Wariner runs 43.4 off of 200m times around 20.4 whereas his mentor Michael Johnson was running about 19.8 for the same 400m pace. Both are coached by Clyde Hart and by all accounts they did very little specific training with a strong focus on aerobic conditioning and multiple reps with low recovery well below race pace. (See http://www.nacactfca.org/articles/Hart-eng.htm) Hart appears to not stress much speed training and relies on the athlete's natural speed. My initial comment is don’t believe everything you read. I first heard Clyde speak in 1978, he did reveal much then and he does not reveal much now. He does work a lot with “Pace” using a system of auditory beeps to give feedback as to their pace. I prefer to call it race distribution. In my opinion that is what his people do best. They distribute their effort well. I do not know about their current strength training program but a colleague of mine used to the Strength & Conditioning coach at Baylor when Johnson was training there is the mid nineties and his observation of the lifting could characterized as basically a body building routine, not much sophistication. Another important observation is that Hart's people do not over race. I think that is essential.

The best European runner of recent times, Iwan Thomas ran 44.35 off a 200m best of 20.87 and similarly to Hart, his coach Mike Smith used very little weight training with athletes doing much of their conditioning work in an old school hall with a few chairs and a couple of med balls. My comment is how import is a large amount of maximum strength work in an event that is essentially a power endurance event.

So developing the ability to hold speed is key but the ways of doing for the 400m are varied. Interestingly the most successful methods of recent years have nothing in common with modern approaches such as Barry Ross's protocol. No weights, Slower Longer reps with short recovery Vs Lots of Weights, and Fast Sprints over short distance. My comment is there are many roads to Rome, you need to find what works for athlete relative to the event they are training for.

The following are Gary Winckler’s comments on this:
I think the point is that the athlete has to achieve a comfortable rhythm in their running. If you have a great given speed level then training needs to just enforce that strength but not work solely to improve it at the expense of changing the runners rhythm. The key here seems to be being able to train the athlete to run the 400m at a rhythm that is somewhere between 90 and 93% of their 200m average velocity. Johnson's 400m record is 90% of his best 200m average velocity. Wariner's 400m best is 92.98% of his best 200m average velocity. In the example for Iwan Thomas he is running at 94% or his best 200m average velocity.

So, for me this would imply that training might follow a progression based upon using good running mechanics to run relaxed rhythms at velocities progressing from 85% to 94% of your best 200m over the course of the training year. For Wariner this would mean 200's from 23.78 to 21.78.

If one does not have the natural speed abilities then the training has to address that first. If you can already run 20.4 then that is a quality that is "sufficient" to run 42. and therefore you don't need to "develop" it . This makes sense in the context of what Clyde is saying to "the media".


At 10/4/07, 6:54 AM, Anonymous Web Designer said...

Thank you very much for your reply Vern.

I have often wondered myself about the veracity of the programmes that Hart publishes. What is important is that they are widely used by 400m runners, even those at the very highest level. I wonder if any other sport suffers from disinformation to the same degree.

I agree with Gary in that you have to develop the speed first, however at what point does an athlete move up to 800m is always a contentious issue for the non elite 400m runner.

I am most interested in the weights issue. Iwan Thomas was a big guy and so was MJ. Bodybuilding style weights (e.g. 3*8) do involve the lactic burn that is similar to running a 400m. I did hear of Fred Hatfield saying that 400m runners should do weights for time (e.g. 40s of squatting, fast as possible). However from observation 400m runners are a leaner beast (ala Wariner) than they were 10 or 15 years ago.

Any thoughts on the 400m runner's strength and conditioning regime?
Thanks Again,

At 10/4/07, 9:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting info. Thanks for the detail.

Vern, You once posted 400meter workouts on here. Care to comment on them in regards to this?

Mark Day


Post a Comment

<< Home