Has 400m Training Changed?

Posted In: Blog Discussion

      • Mike Young
        Keymaster
        Mike Young on #14722

        I recently read an interesting article about Jeremy Wariner and his split from Coach Hart. There were some previously undisclosed and interesting tidbits in there about the split if that’s what you’re in to, but the most interesting part of the article was actually a quote from Jeremy’s former Baylor teammate and 2004 Olympic gold medal relay anchor leg. Here’s the excerpt with the quote in

        Continue reading…

        ELITETRACK Founder

      • Avatar
        Participant
        Chad Williams on #71230

        It is hard to justify leaving the coach who has produced for so long(especially during an olympic year). Yes, times have changed, the surfaces have changed, but it is still the same race. If I were an elite athlete, having the choice between someone with knowledge and expertise or someone I can relate to, I would choose the former.

        Every great coach is going to have their soapbox and while some will disagree with his training methods, results don’t lie. Coach Hart has produced time and time again.

        It will be interesting to see how the games play out especially with Merritt on the rise. Who knows, Merritt may the big dog eventually regardless of what happens because he is still young and coming into his own.

      • Avatar
        Participant
        lumberjack on #71235

        It is hard to justify leaving the coach who has produced for so long(especially during an olympic year). Coach Hart has produced time and time again.

        It will be interesting to see how the games play out especially with Merritt on the rise. Who knows, Merritt may the big dog eventually regardless of what happens because he is still young and coming into his own.

        Has anyone else ever noticed how many quartermilers Hart has to get to produce a great one? It’s hard to argue with the success of Wariner and Michael Johnson but they were some of the very few who survived the program. Just a few years ago they had 8 guys who came to Baylor who could run 46 seconds or faster. In the time since, they have been good in the 4×400, but very few of those guys developed into anything significant even on the college level. If any major program invested as many scholarships into one event as Baylor does they would be successful at it.

      • Avatar
        Participant
        Chad Williams on #71236

        [quote author="Chad Williams" date="1217528618"]It is hard to justify leaving the coach who has produced for so long(especially during an olympic year). Coach Hart has produced time and time again.

        It will be interesting to see how the games play out especially with Merritt on the rise. Who knows, Merritt may the big dog eventually regardless of what happens because he is still young and coming into his own.

        Has anyone else ever noticed how many quartermilers Hart has to get to produce a great one? It’s hard to argue with the success of Wariner and Michael Johnson but they were some of the very few who survived the program. Just a few years ago they had 8 guys who came to Baylor who could run 46 seconds or faster. In the time since, they have been good in the 4×400, but very few of those guys developed into anything significant even on the college level. If any major program invested as many scholarships into one event as Baylor does they would be successful at it.[/quote]

        Has anyone ever noticed how many basketball players a division I coach goes through before they get a great one? Football players? etc . . . I don’t think that is a valid point. Getting an elite is rare!!!! Especially one of Wariner’s or Johnson’s caliber. I mean we are talking about 2 of the 3 fastest guys ever!!!! And he has coached them.

        I wouldn’t call it survival. He has developed a well-engineered system that is successful and works.

      • Avatar
        Participant
        mortac8 on #71237

        I don’t think it’s changed much at all. Maybe they have better methods of blood doping now 🙂 Williamson is still a non-factor.

        But seriously, the Lee Evans point was good. I was going to say that. I remember when he was hired at Washington (in a brilliant move by them IMO) and took Ja’warren Hooker into the mid 44s.

      • Mike Young
        Keymaster
        Mike Young on #71244

        This is one of those points where I sit on the fence. I think our understanding of the short sprints has expanded immensely but I’m not sure if the same can be said for the 400m. Many of the best 400m collegiate programs today are doing very similar workouts to what was done 30 years ago. Add to that the times haven’t improved by THAT much (especially over last 20 years) and you begin to think that perhaps the old timers might have had it right 3 or 4 decades ago.

        As for Baylor’s success…I don’t know what to say. I’d like to think if I had 8 guys come to me out of highschool with PRs at or under 46 seconds that I could get the team to run 2:58 or so but then again, I’ll never have that opportunity. The past couple recruiting classes at Baylor have been mind boggling. There was a 2-3 year stretch where it actually appeared as if they had the rights to any HSer who had run under 46.5 seconds.

        On the flip side, there’s certainly something to be said for the method that has produced MJ, Wariner, Sanya, et al. Many programs are a survival of the fittest scenario and with Baylor’s recruiting classes they have the luxury of being able to pull that off with great success.

        ELITETRACK Founder

      • Avatar
        Participant
        lumberjack on #71247

        Has anyone ever noticed how many basketball players a division I coach goes through before they get a great one? Football players? etc . . . I don’t think that is a valid point. Getting an elite is rare!!!! Especially one of Wariner’s or Johnson’s caliber. I mean we are talking about 2 of the 3 fastest guys ever!!!! And he has coached them.

        I wouldn’t call it survival. He has developed a well-engineered system that is successful and works.

        No program in the NCAA has invested as many scholarships in one event as Baylor has in the 400m. Hart seems to have had more success keeping them healthy in recent years, but he’s broken far more than have turned out, due to the huge volume of work that they do. What if Don Babbit were the Georgia head coach and declared it Shotputter U and invested 6 of his 12 scholarships on shotputters? What if in the 80s John Smith declared UCLA Quartermiler U and ignored every other event and had 8 great quartermilers to work with every year? Smith has coached more 43 second 400m runners than Hart has, and did it without even 1/10th of the HS phenom 400m runners that Hart has had to work with.

        Maybe they had good reason to focus on the 400m at Baylor because they didn’t feel they could be successful on a national level with any other event. However no one has ever had the number of quality athletes to coach in that event, chances are some will have the genetic ability to survive the huge workloads and turn out. You can’t compare the number of elite 400m guys he’s produced to other sprint coaches who have run more balanced programs.

      • Avatar
        Participant
        Chad Williams on #71257

        Every single program has individual goals. Baylor’s is a great 4×400 and great 400m guys. UCLA wanted a more balanced program. I am not going to bash the Coach who has the 400m and 200m record to his credit. In fact, I would be honored to sit down and chat with any one of the guys you mentioned along with Hart. Discounting a coaches methods because he specializes in a few events is going to leave a short list of coaches.

        I wasn’t comparing Coach Hart to other sprint coaches.

      • Mike Young
        Keymaster
        Mike Young on #71259

        Let’s steer this more towards whether you think old school training methods (i.e. distance running, lots of tempo, long-to-short planning, and little speed work)are still the way to go with 400m runners as opposed to more current thinking (short-to-long, speed-based training). Thoughts?

        ELITETRACK Founder

      • Avatar
        Participant
        Owen on #71272

        Interesting view from Darold, though his best years date back to when he was following Hart’s program. There may be other issues to explain his struggles since then such as injuries but still i think its more than coincedence.

      • Avatar
        Participant
        star61 on #71275

        Let’s steer this more towards whether you think old school training methods (i.e. distance running, lots of tempo, long-to-short planning, and little speed work)are still the way to go with 400m runners as opposed to more current thinking (short-to-long, speed-based training). Thoughts?

        Mike, I’ve been trying to get my hands on 200m/400m PBs on as many athletes as possible to look at split times. I was curious to see if a closer split between the first 200m and the second 200m was a function of training age, caliber of athlete, training sytle etc.

        Your question has me thinking. Have split times changed over the last 30 years? In other words, can you tell a difference between old school, long to short, 400m/800m sprinters and speed based, short to long, 200m/400m sprinters based on the differnece in their split times? My first guess would be that the former might have more even splits, closer to the +1, +2 sort of thing, while the latter might have a wider gap between his/her splits.

      • Mike Young
        Keymaster
        Mike Young on #71276

        Your question has me thinking. Have split times changed over the last 30 years? In other words, can you tell a difference between old school, long to short, 400m/800m sprinters and speed based, short to long, 200m/400m sprinters based on the differnece in their split times? My first guess would be that the former might have more even splits, closer to the +1, +2 sort of thing, while the latter might have a wider gap between his/her splits.

        Not certain but I’d imagine almost all of today’s 400m people have faster 200m times than in the past but the 400m times aren’t really better….Merritt, Carter, Johnson are all sub 20. Wariner isn’t a 200m blazer or anything but he’s faster than Butch Reynolds.

        On a related note, I think race distribution is certainly one of the key factors that has affected the 100m and more specifically the 200m times in the past 15 years.

        ELITETRACK Founder

      • Avatar
        Participant
        Daniel Andrews on #71279

        One thing I think you all are missing is Evans time from 1968 was altitude assisted Even so with the shifts in training philosophies amongst coaches from 1968 onwards with respect to the 100 and 200m races. Since 1968 and keeping the altitude assisted marks in place the change for 100m WR is .23s, 200m WR is .51s, and 400m WR is .68s, the 800m WR changed by over 3.2s and the 1500m by 7s, which I think shows the importance of decreasing wind resistance as a major contributing factor for improving times, what’s important to remember is as the distance increases at altitude the importance of the decrease in wind resistance to performance is outweighed by the need for greater oxygen consumption.

        So let’s use 1972-2008 as an example, I will use Borzov’s 10.14 and 20.00 from Munich and Mathews 44.66 which at the time would have been World Records (Tommie Smith’s 20.0 220y from 1968 was hand timed). The differences now are .32s for 100m, .68s for 200m, and 1.48s and 400m, while the 800m and 1500m races are 3.2s and 7s again. Interestingly, the 1:44.3 HT from 1968 Olympics 800m tied then existing WR set at 19′ above sea level and tied again in 1972 at the US Olympic Trials in Eugene set 430′ feet above sea level.

        Therefore, I can only come to the conclusion that performances have not hit a plateau at 400m, just the 100m had to start catching up, and maybe surpassed the 400m because of time given to accelerate to maximal race velocity is higher in the 100m race. However, from 200m to 400m and 400m to 800m there is a definite doubling of the performance gains which I interpret to signify the importance of overall speed and speed endurance to performance at any track and field event from the mile downwards. I think it also points out that the 800m race is unaffected by altitude. It took 15 years to break Hines record from Mexico City by Calvin Smith running at altitude, it took 11 years to break Smith’s 200m record with Mennea in 1979, lets not forget that Johnson’s 19.66 and 19.32 came at 1000 feet (there is a reason Old Fulton County Stadium was called “The Launching Pad”, it made Dale Murphy an All-Star). Then we get to Evans record, it took 20 for Reynolds to break it running at an altitude of 800+ meters and another 11 years for Johnson to get the record.

        One last thing after this long ramble, but shouldn’t Dwill just shut up and change events? He’s not even come close to winning a significant if any European one-day race and I am was surprised he was even a finalist in the Olympic trials. He best not be in 4×4 finals assuming the US makes it.

      • Mike Young
        Keymaster
        Mike Young on #71290

        I actually hadn’t overlooked the altitude assistance so I’m glad you brought it up. I think it’s totally valide through that games and I think the marks of those games are definitely skewed BUT if we restrict our look to 1988-2008 then we see that the 100m and 200m have really taken off and the 400m is about the same. 100m guys who were Olympic finalists might not make it to the finals of the U.S. Nationals or maybe not even the NCAAs. Same with the 200m. In the 400m though, Butch Reynolds time from 88 is still the 2nd fastest ever and the 80s so far has produced more sub 44 guys (3) than the 00s (2) and the average of their best times is better than the current crop. I even think there were only 4 sub 44 guys in the 90s and 2 of them were holdovers from guys who had produced sub 44s in the 80s (Butch Reynolds and Danny Evertt). As for the distance events and the time changes, I certainly think the altitude has a huge affect on the 68 marks but I think that if we use the post 1970 marks on you’ll see that the progression is more due to the influx of talent from Eastern Africa.

        ELITETRACK Founder

      • Avatar
        Participant
        Daniel Andrews on #71305

        Considering Reynolds set the 400m record at an altitude over 800m it should come as no surprise it took a while to break that record considering less than a month earlier he ran 43.93 which was the first sub 44 not at altitude, then a month after he sets the record he runs 43.93 again in the Olympic final losing to Steve Lewis who runs 43.87. So if we account for Reynolds record in 1988 of 43.29 to altitude then there is a clear progression of times downward till Johnson’s 43.18 in 1999. Certainly both of Johnson’s marks at 200m and 400m haven’t been challenged, but this is possibly because even though we have the World’s best 400m athletes, our best sprinters even our best all around sprinters don’t race enough 400m races to go sub 44. Guys like Spearmon and Carter probably could go sub 44s if they ran it enough. The point I was trying to make is that as the event distance approaches 800m the impact of wind resistance becomes nullified by oxygen demands, but at 400m the increase in altitude affects the times exponentially because the race of 400m is longer than 200m and longer than 100m.

        I wouldn’t qualify the 800m as a distance event. I also don’t think the East Africans had much to do or anything to do with the change of the WR’s at those events over time, certainly Kipketer is an East African. I think the British Empire influenced the 800m WR and 1500m WRs with Caucasian athletes and North Africans of Moorish decent (El G, Aouita, Morceli, and Baali) seem to have influenced both mid and long distances races, I don’t think the Kenyans could at their best in 97 and 98 (including Kipketer) could have lined up a quartet of Coe, Cram, Ovett, and Elliot at 800m and 1500m like the UK had at those events for a period of 5-6 years. Certainly 3000m+ events were influenced more by the East Africans. That said, 800m WR’s haven’t been influenced by altitude as the WR was tied at Mexico City and later retied near sea level 4 years later.

      • Mike Young
        Keymaster
        Mike Young on #71309

        Considering Reynolds set the 400m record at an altitude over 800m it should come as no surprise it took a while to break that record considering less than a month earlier he ran 43.93 which was the first sub 44 not at altitude, then a month after he sets the record he runs 43.93 again in the Olympic final losing to Steve Lewis who runs 43.87.

        While I recognize that 800m of altitude does make a difference it doesn’t make THAT much difference. The NCAA places the altitude adjustment (which Butch’s race wouldn’t even qualify as being) at 0.11 seconds for the 400m.

        He just ran a great race. Period.

        Also, the fact that Steve Lewis time of 88 would have beat Wariner’s in 2004 just supports the notion that the 400m hasn’t come as far as the other events.

        …then there is a clear progression of times downward till Johnson’s 43.18 in 1999.

        What happened since then? That was almost a decade ago?

        Certainly both of Johnson’s marks at 200m and 400m haven’t been challenged, but this is possibly because even though we have the World’s best 400m athletes, our best sprinters even our best all around sprinters don’t race enough 400m races to go sub 44. Guys like Spearmon and Carter probably could go sub 44s if they ran it enough.

        As for talent in to the event, I could buy in to that one. I’d imagine if Kerron, X, and Spearmon were regularly battling Wariner and Merritt then we’d see 43 lows. Also, I think the 400m record is ‘normal’ and the 200m record is a complete anomoly in every sense of the word. It would be better to look at the top 10 (or 50 or 100) times every year from 1968-present to see what the real trend is. I’d bet we’d see a complete plateau for the last 20 years. Anyone have the time and resources to check this out?

        The point I was trying to make is that as the event distance approaches 800m the impact of wind resistance becomes nullified by oxygen demands, but at 400m the increase in altitude affects the times exponentially because the race of 400m is longer than 200m and longer than 100m.

        It’s actually not exponential…it’s actually less. The 100m altitude adjustment is 0.03s, for 200m it’s 0.07s and for 400m it’s 0.11s. That’s a multiplicative relationship not exponential.

        I wouldn’t qualify the 800m as a distance event. I also don’t think the East Africans had much to do or anything to do with the change of the WR’s at those events over time, certainly Kipketer is an East African. I think the British Empire influenced the 800m WR and 1500m WRs with Caucasian athletes and North Africans of Moorish decent (El G, Aouita, Morceli, and Baali) seem to have influenced both mid and long distances races, I don’t think the Kenyans could at their best in 97 and 98 (including Kipketer) could have lined up a quartet of Coe, Cram, Ovett, and Elliot at 800m and 1500m like the UK had at those events for a period of 5-6 years. Certainly 3000m+ events were influenced more by the East Africans. That said, 800m WR’s haven’t been influenced by altitude as the WR was tied at Mexico City and later retied near sea level 4 years later.

        The 800m is like physiological no man’s land which is why Europeans can still compete regularly and beat others from around the world. They don’t have the physical abilities (in general) of the West Africans (and those of West African decent) to contest over 100-400m and don’t have the physical abilities (in general) of the East Africans to compete in the 1500m+ but time has proven they can compete at the 800m at the highest levels on a very regular basis.

        ELITETRACK Founder

      • Mike Young
        Keymaster
        Mike Young on #71670

        With today’s Olympic 400m results, it looks pretty clear that 400m running has not changed. It’s probably the only event on the schedule with the exception of perhaps the out-of-control doped events of the mid 80s (women’s sprints, throws) where the times of the 80s were better than this year’s finals.

        ELITETRACK Founder

Viewing 16 reply threads
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.