The 400-meter workout. This is a workout that has stood the test of time and is one of the staples in every elite runner’s program. If you want to improve your race time you should be adding the 400m repeat into your program.
Just like the 800m repeat the 400m repeat will get you out of your comfort zone. When you’re running 400m repeats you will be pushing the pace and going fast which will help you PR your next race.
Here are some benefits of running 400m repeats
Improve running economy
Just like with the 800m repeat the 400m repeat will help improve running economy. Let’s explain what running economy is before we move into why running 400m repeats will help you improve it.
Running economy measures energy utilization when running at an aerobic pace. A few different factors go into running economy like oxygen consumption, running mechanics, weight and f force production of the legs.
Running 400m repeats will increase force production.
What is Force production?
Force production has to do with how much force muscles can produce usually measured by a barbell squat. Muscle size and motor recruitment are the two major factors when trying to improve force production. For runners, it’s important to focus on motor recruitment over muscle size because extra bulk will negatively impact running economy. Running 400 meter repeats will help improve motor recruitment because running at faster speeds will improve the connection to motor units in the legs allowing the body to recruit more muscles allowing the runner to run faster.
Another way running 400 meter repeats will improve running economy is that it improves the skill of running itself. The problem is that you can’t run at a fast pace for a long time because you will burn out during the run and you may become injured. A better idea is to run a shorter distance like a 400m, 800m or 1200m repeat with breaks in between. This will allow the runner to have rest between each repeat allowing for optimal form without breaking down running form during the workout.
Makes race pace feel easier
If you’re a runner that enjoys races, then the 400-meter repeat workout will help you reach your next personal record. If you’ve ever done a race in the past you know that it can feel uncomfortable at times during the race. If you add interval training into your running plan your race pace will feel easier. This is because you’re running outside of your comfort zone which allows you to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
The 400-meter workout is basically high intensity interval training or (HIIT). When we do a high intensity cardio workout our metabolism gets a boost which can help us lose some unwanted body fat. This is because HIIT workouts cause excess post-exercise oxygen consumption or (EPOC). After you’re done with your 400-meter repeat workout your body will keep burning calories for hours because your body is doing work to bring your body back into a resting state and bringing your body into a resting state. Your body will clear byproduct and repair the damage caused by the workout which raises the metabolism. The number of extra calories used can be up to 300-400 for 24 hours.
Side note: Just because the 400-meter workout can cause the body to burn extra calories after the workout is over doesn’t mean you should do them all the time. If you do a 400m repeat workout more than twice a week it can lead to injury or burnout.
Keep things interesting
Doing the same workout all the time can lead to mental burnout and cause you to want to quit training all together. If you want keep your program fun, it’s important to add some variation to your program. Adding 400m, 800m or 1200m repeats can add that change you need to push through a stale workout program. Adding one to two repeat workouts per week is all it takes to add a little spice to your program, just remember that too much is going to sabotage your program.
How to run 400m repeats
There’s many ways to add 400m repeats in your running plan. The best way to start is to keep the volume of low. Just like with strength training it’s not a good idea to add too much weight too soon the only difference with running is that you may be causing damage before you realize you’re training too hard. If you’re not careful find that you’re becoming burnout or getting overuse injuries. You might feel fine when you start your training cycle but half way in you start to see injuries pop up. Therefore, you should keep your training volume low in the beginning of your training cycle.
Now that we’ve gone over the importance of starting slow let’s explain how to add 400 meter repeats into your program.
400m on 400m off
This workout is great for people just starting out with the 400m workout. It’s very simple you will do a 1-2 mile warm up at an easy pace, do some strides, run 400m at 5k or 10k pace, jog 400m, repeat 6-12 times and cooldown for 1-2 miles.
The 25×25 workout is a challenging work that should be done in the middle of a marathon training program. The way this workout is done is that you do a 2 mile warm up, do some strides, run 400 meters at 10k pace, job for 100m, repeat the 400m and 100m 25times and cooldown for 2 miles. This workout will mimic the struggle that you feel during the marathon. Doing so many repeats in a row will allow lactic acid to build up and force you to push through the pain like the last 6 miles of a marathon.
The 400-meter fartlek is a fun way to spice up a run on a flat trail. First you will need to find a GPS watch that you can program workouts into. This will take the guess work out of the workout so all you need to do is do the repeat when your watch tells you to. Set the pace to be around 5k or 10k pace with 400 meter pickups and a 400m jog programed in. repeat the pickup 8-12 times. Don’t forget to add a 1-2 mile warm up and cooldown.