Conditioning for 400m Running

The key training for 400m runners is the hard track work that needs to be done. However, an athlete has to ensure that they are both fit and strong enough to be able to cope with this.

This may make it sound trivial, but the truth is that having the fitness to do the hard track work as a 400m runner is vital. Without it you will not be able to tolerate the exertions of the sessions. Either you will not be fit enough to generate lactate levels or speed required or you will simply break down (through injury or illness) and have to take a break from training whilst you recover.

There are two key elements - aerobic conditioning and having the strength / resiliance, where a combination of the two will allow you to be able to set a foundation for upon which to build the speed, speed endurance and lactic tolerance on the track. We deal with the 400m strength and conditioning element of this on another page - here we'll look at the aerobic fitness.

The fitness needed can be attained in a number of ways, but the link is that they are all type of aerobic work, working on the cardio-vascular system and, hopefully, also low intensity work on the muscles needed in your event.

Getting the right balance in your training with the various elements balanced properly is important. Momentum Sports coaches can help you get this right as you aim to improve your 400m running.

The most common two of these for athletes would be running - long slow runs or possibly, slow interval sessions - often in the form of a fartlek - and circuit training.

This sort of training will be used throughout the year, but primarily in the conditioning phase of training. For the pre-competition phase and competition period it is a way of maintaining fitness, but probably won't be as intensive as earlier in the year.

A typical run for a 400m runner would be a 2-3 mile run - aiming for just over half the speed you run a 400m race in. (eg. a 60 second 400m runner might look to cover each 400m in this at between 1.45 and 1.50mins).

As far as circuits are concerned there are a number of formats these can take and a huge variety of muscles that can be exercised. It is important to consider the muscles used for running so, half squats, calf raises and burpees are all important. However, the core (stomach and back) is also vital as are some upper body exercises for driving your arms.

A typical session might include 4 sets of the following (with 3mins rest)

  1. Press Ups (20secs)
  2. Ab Curls (30secs)
  3. Hip Raises (15secs)
  4. Burpees (30secs)
  5. Tricep Dips (20secs)
  6. 1/2 Squats (20secs)
  7. Calf Raises (20secs)

You'll find a lot more information on types of running sessions and circuit training through these links.

Explore further 400m topics