Q and A: How I can prepare myself for the last 200m and how to increase my speed endurance? -

Published by - Nike High School Track and Field
Apr 5th 2012, 8:28pm | 1502 views
coach jay

Dear Coach Jay,

I’m a freshman running the 400m for outdoor track (going to be my second year running it), and I can adapt pretty quickly. I’d say my fastest time was 58–59 seconds. I was wondering how I can prepare myself for the last 200m and how to increase my speed endurance. I was also wondering if it’s possible to drop my time to 55 seconds or lower. As of now, I’m doing some winter workouts with the team and doing hills, flying 30s, core workouts, and plyo training.

Thanks in advance,


Hi, Cody. Thanks for the question, and it’s nice change to be able to answer a question that’s a bit outside the normal distance-running realm.

The 400m is such a fun race to watch because it requires a blend of speed and endurance. Runners who do well for 300m often fail in the final 100m and get passed by the field. Conversely, some runners are able to run just behind the leaders for 300m and then seemingly accelerate and pass everyone in the final 100m. (In reality, however, these athletes are likely decelerating less than their competition…so it just looks as if they’re speeding up!)

You have the right term when you bring up “speed endurance.” You want to be able to endure a fast pace for a longer distance. And what’s interesting is that the best 400m coach in the world—Clyde Hart—also Michael Johnson’s coach, has his athletes train more aerobically than most coaches, focusing on the endurance versus the speed component of the race. They have a Monday workout where they run as many as fifteen 200s.  That’s almost two miles of running on the track. Now they’re not going fast—just a 200m in 35 seconds for male college athletes. And the rest is long—roughly four times the duration run—so two minutes and 20 seconds recovery. Relative to how fast these athletes run the 400m, this is a long, slow workout. As the season progresses, the workouts get shorter and the 200s get faster. And after a few weeks, you’re at 10 x 200m at 30 seconds with only two minutes recovery. I should note that it’s been only in the last 10 years that Coach Hart’s methods have been proved by the scientific community, with the 400m now believed to be fueled 30 percent by the aerobic metabolism (compared to the previous view that the 400m was purely an anaerobic endeavor).

So why do I bring up this workout? Simple. You stated that “as of now, I’m doing some winter workouts with the team and doing hills, flying 30s, core workouts, and plyo training” and that’s great. But even a 400m runner needs an aerobic component to his or her training, given how we now know that 30 percent of the race is fueled by the aerobic metabolism. Obviously you need workouts when you’re running 200m pace and 100m pace, working on posture and rhythm. But the cool thing about Clyde Hart’s 200m workouts is that you also get a chance to work on posture and rhythm, even though the speed you’re running is slower than 400m pace.  

While I can’t write a complete 12-week outdoor track training schedule for you in a post like this, I would strongly encourage you to talk to your coach and see if you two can infuse the Clyde Hart 200m workout (Google “Clyde Hart’s Monday 200m”) into your training; then do shorter races like the 100m and 200m and the 4x100m relay in your weekly dual meets. If you can, you’ll have a great balance of speed work, lactate tolerance work (remember that a 400m race is as good as any workout), and aerobic work.  


*Coach Jay's advice is provided as general training information. Use at your own risk. Always consult with your own heath care provider for questions relating to your specific training and nutrition.

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