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Q: Training for competitive running ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: Training for competitive running
Category: Sports and Recreation > Training
Asked by: poetic-ga
List Price: $4.00
Posted: 17 Jun 2002 13:47 PDT
Expires: 24 Jun 2002 13:47 PDT
Question ID: 28064
Will slow long distance running improve sprinting times for say the 400 meters
Subject: Re: Training for competitive running
Answered By: mmi-ga on 17 Jun 2002 14:47 PDT
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
Hey poetic-ga,
Most track coaches would argue that there are a variety of training
needs that should be addressed by sprinters. These might include
coordination, speed, strength, flexibility and endurance. All these
topics are discussed in an article on

For a brief discussion of some of the biomedical issues involved in
strength, flexibility and endurance, check out a site like:

The best comprehensive review of all these issues I came across is
found in a PDF file authored by a track coach at the UC-Irvine:

Taking into account the details found in these documents, you should
be able to make a fairly informed judgment regarding how much and what
type of slow long-distance training would help improve your times in a
400 meter sprint. It would seem that strength and endurance would be
the areas where you would potentially show marked improvement. As the
first article I referenced mentions, there are both general and
specific strength and endurance goals you might set for yourself.

Obviously, one important issue to keep in mind is that long-distance
running can involve repetitive motion injuries that aren't generally
associated with sprinting, e.g. inflammation of the hip flexor
muscles. I found that referenced in this document.

I searched in Google on:

Will slow long distance running improve sprinting times for say the
400 meters


"long-distance running" improve times "400 meters"

Sorry I don't have anything more specific. I hope these leads help you
in your efforts to run 'em into the ground!


Clarification of Answer by mmi-ga on 17 Jun 2002 14:55 PDT
Oops! My first answer and my first error. Here's that site I forgot to
list regarding potential injuries:

run a FIND on "repetitive"

Clarification of Answer by mmi-ga on 17 Jun 2002 20:16 PDT
Hey again poetic-ga,

Looks like some very useful detailed suggestions you got from analogkid-ga. :)

I wanted to mention one more document I thought you might find useful:

I've used this site a few times and had generally good results.

poetic-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars

Subject: Re: Training for competitive running
From: analogkid-ga on 17 Jun 2002 18:15 PDT

First, one of the most important things about running a 400 is knowing
how to run it.  You have to know how good of shape you are in so you
know if you can start sprinting right away or if you should wait for
100m or 200m to start sprinting.  Starting to sprint too early can
cause your last 100m or so to be incredibly difficult and cause slow

If you are in highschool and are trying to improve your 400 time for
next season, then slow, long distance running will be a great workout.
 It will help make your muscles used to working for longer than they
are used to.  It will also make sure that you are in shape by the time
track season comes around.  This will help make the workouts that your
coach has for you more effective.  At that point, your coach should be
able to give you the training that you need in order improve your
times even further.

If, however, you aren't a student and you don't have a coach, you will
want to do more than just run long distances.  An important part of
improving speed in the 400 meters is to run repeats of both short
sprints and of longer sprints.  By short sprints I mean 50m-200m.  You
will want to run these almost as fast as you can and run multiple ones
in a row.  You might start out doing 4 200s in a row, then later do 2
sets of 3, then 3 sets of 4.  This progression might take you months. 
Between each repeat you should only rest about 2 to 3 times as long as
you run. Between sets, you can rest for a longer period -- maybe 10
times as long as it takes to run one repeat.

By longer sprints, I mean 400m-600m.  Believe me when I say these will
be some of your most difficult workouts ever. :)  You'll want to run
these at about 80%-90% of your best time.  So, if your best 400m is 60
seconds, try to run your practice 400's in about 60sec/.85= 70-71
seconds.  You'll also want to run these multiple times with the same
sort of progression as the short sprints.  (1 set of 3, 1 set of 4, 2
sets of 3, 3 sets of 4 with a 2-2.5 min rest between each repeat and a
10 to 15 min rest between each set)

These two workouts that I gave above should not be done very often.  A
good idea would be to do the short sprint workout on one day during
the first week and then the longer sprint workout on one day during
the second week.  After doing one of these workouts you may not want
to workout at all the next day or you may want to do a long, slow run
to loosen up your muscles.  For workouts the other five days of the
week, my advice is to put in some variety.  Put in a faster paced long
run one day, find a big hill and run up it and walk down it on another
day, do a long run where you sprint for a little bit then jog then
sprint then jog the entire way on another day, etc.

I'll put in a disclaimer here, I guess.  I've been assuming that you
are in decent shape, since you're asking to improve your time. 
However, if you haven't run in years except to catch the bus or have
heart problems or anything else don't start doing these things right
away.  In fact, see a doctor before you even start running to the
corner and back.  Then once you can start running a 400 fairly easily,
then gradually ease into what I suggested above.

Hope that helps,
Subject: Re: Training for competitive running
From: jem-ga on 24 Jun 2002 23:49 PDT
Hi There - just adding my 2 cents worth as a recent convert to running
:) Re: increasing your sprinting time, I think the key is to do some
focused speed-work training, along the lines suggestd by analog-kid
ga.  The slow long distance running is great for endurance work, but
to see improved sprinting times, some interval training work will
probably get you "on the right track" :)
For example, (and I'm using time measurements as I tend to use a
treadmill quite a lot), jog or walk one minute slow, sprint one minute
fast, repeat each interval 10 times (i.e. 20 minutes total training
time).  Depending on how fit you are, you can increase the total
training time to suit.  A resource which I find really useful for
training tips (and you've probably been to this site already) is - they've recently revamped their site and if you
dig around, you can actually find some quite good training tips and
schedules.  The "allexperts" site recommended by mmi-ga is also really

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