Chasing Greatness

Steal our 400m program (preseason Week 1)

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400m program (Preseason Week 1)

Each Monday, for the next 12 weeks, I'll be posting a preseason training program for developmental 400m runners.

I get so many questions about this event I've decided to share what I'm doing. This way you can copy it, pick it apart (respectfully), or flat out steal it. 


HS 400m Training
Pre-season – 12 weeks
Mesocycle 1, Microcyle 1
General Preparation

M: 10 x 20m accelerations from various
positions @ 90%. R = 2’.
10 x 2 Standing Long Jump into pit

T: 10 x 100m @ 65-70%. R = 45” Bodyweight
circuit (10 exercises @ 30” on, 30” off)

W: Mile run. 3 x 250m hills. Walk back
recovery. 800m warm down

TH: 8 x 200 @ 70% B: 34-35, G: 39-40
R = 2’

F: 15’ run @ just above conversational
pace. Bodyweight circuit (10 exercises @
30” on, 30” off)

Sa: Off
Su: Off



  • alberto says:

    Have you worked wirh masters/senior runners?.Gracias-Alberto

    >>> Not too much. The training, energy system demands, etc. for Masters athletes are the same as they would be for other age groups and training ages. The difference would simply be to modify the volumes and intensities based on your particular needs. Perhaps you can’t recover well from too much hill work or speed work. So you have to cut the volume and add more recovery work, tempo runs, etc. I believe in not making things more complicated than they are. So just keep a good training log and pay attention to how you feel after certain workouts.


  • Giles Davis says:

    The training methodology is sound, is there any insight into the bodyweight circuits you employ?

    >>> My philosophy with body weight circuits is, like most things, dependent on the training age of the athletes. I like to start, generally, with a few weeks of bodyweight work instead of sending athletes to the weight room. For athletes with a low training age their general strength is so low I want to develop connective tissue strength, work capacity and prep them for the weightroom. Because it’s so general I don’t get too technical with the exercises. Again, I take a common sense approach: upper, lower, mobility/core, upper, lower, mobility/core, etc. I like to do a good deal of lunging, split squats, etc. to prepare them for the weight room since we focus heavily on single leg exercises.

    This year I’m cutting squats from our program entirely. I’m also cutting all flexion/extension ab work in favor of stabilization work. A bit outside the mainstream, but more functional in my opinion.


  • Howard L. says:

    Why would you have a sprinter (400m or less) do a mile run or a 800m run?

    >> I’ve found, over the years, that building a base using some longer runs gets me better results (aids in building a bigger foundation) than focusing on tempo runs only. It still feels counter-intuitive as, for years, I was a ‘never ever send sprinters on the roads’ guy. But the more I look at other successful programs, as well as my own notes, the more I see the value in doing this – during the General Prep periods and only for 400/400h. Maybe for 300m runners since the good ones must prepare to run a trial, a final and then come back and run fast in the 4×2 or 4×4. But for 55-200m runners I would not send them on the roads.

    Great question and certainly a subject for debate. And if you told me I was dead wrong for doing that, I wouldn’t be offended or even say you were wrong and I’m right. I just have to go with what gets me results and in the last 2 years since I really started heading in that direction, I’ve had my best 400m performances from top to bottom of the depth chart.


  • CoachDale says:

    As a middle distance coach, I regularly have sprinters run XC, iff they like to run. Just because they are fast in sprints does not mean they are pure sprinters. Recently a very good athlete who played other sports and ran track had runs of 56. in grade 9 and 53. in grade 10. In grade 11 after one fall and winter of endurance training he ran 49. and 1:53. (first year running the 8) and also ran pb’s in the 100 (but he had to wait until well into the season before that happened)…I feel that I helped him find an event. I would not subject an athlete with good form who still had trouble holding it together for 200m to endurance training…and I am sure they would not volunteer for such fun.

    >>Good points CoachDale and congratulations on your success. And as a (former) sprinter, I would doubly agree that *very* few sprinters would volunteer for full fledged cross country. WHen I got to college and had to run 5 miles on my first day of practice (after coming from a HS program that consisted of repeat 200s and, well, repeat 200s) I wanted to cry.

  • ERIC says:

    hello latif, my son is 11 years old this year was his first year running track in the midget division he initially ran like a 1:22 in the 400m and by the end of the season got down to a 1:15. First off how exactly do i do thye percentages breakdowns? Secondly do u think he’s too young to do this type of training? Lastly the wednesday workout 3*250m hills, here in charlotte NC we dont have 50m hills; so how would u suggest i improvise that portion of your workout?

    >>> In order to establish times for the given percentages, multiply his best time at that distance x 100 then divide by the intensity. So if it was a 400 at 70%, you would go 75×100/70= 1:47.2

    He’s not too young to do that type of training, he’s too young, certainly, to do that much training. I don’t think an 11 year old needs to work out more than 3 days per week. If you don’t have hills I recommend bleachers or stadium stairs, or I’d perhaps fatigue the athletes legs a bit with some bodyweight lunges, squats,etc. before having them run. There really is no perfect substitution for hills, though I’d love to hear some opinions from those of you reading this as I know there are some excellent coaches out there.


  • ROBIN SALLIE says:

    What age group are you training with this program?

    >>High school. I notated the age group right above the listing of the workouts.


  • Sean says:

    I know this is preseason training program for developmental 400m runners.

    But when do you start this type of training…September, November, January???

    I recommend starting it 12 weeks before the start of your season. For those who have winter track where practice starts at the beginning of December, start in September. For those who don’t where track starts in spring, start 12 weeks before the first day of formal practice.


  • Tom says:

    Howard. the benifits of longer runs, are improved recovery, which may increace training capacity. Also, the greater the level of aerobic metabolism, the less energy is required of the anaerobic system, even if the event is largely anaerobic.. I would agree that for less than 200m, particularly wrt the latter point, that longer runs are of little benifit.

    >>> Thanks Tom! Your science is on point!


  • Wayne says:

    What advice do you have for a college track athlete who doesnt want to compete for his school for personal reasons that needs to revamp his training for the 100m, 200m, and 400m? as well as will you training program work college athletes since the program is mostly for developing athletes?

    >> My advice is to learn as much as you can so you understand *why* you’re doing what you’re doing as opposed to simply regurgitating what you see online, regardless of who it is. That said, follow what I’m posting and it will get you in shape. Without knowing you personally, it’s hard to say what you need to do specifically as programs should be geared toward specific athletes. The program will work with college sprinters because its based on science that crosses over to all age groups. You will likely have to adjust the volumes and intensities to suit your particular needs.

    I, of course, recommend you get Complete Program Design for Sprinters ( ) as that will walk you through all the *why* and help you understand exactly what I’m doing and where I’m going.


  • Joe Horn says:

    Giles: We use body weight circuits with 100m acceleration runs between each exercise. (outdoors)I feel this has an aerobic benefit that can serve as base building and replace or supplement (depending on your philosophy) the “basebuilding 15′ runs. I believe low weight machine (weight room) circuits also serve this purpose.

    >> I agree completely with Joe. Good information and advice.


  • Dennis says:

    what weight workots would youreccomend for 12 to 14 y/old runners

    >>Start with bodyweight exercises and teach core lifts with bodybars, dowel rods, broom handles, etc. Once athletes show technical proficiency they can transfer into the weight room. The idea that weight training stunts growth is an unsubstantiated myth.

    I recommend:


  • Steven Booth says:

    I find your training program interesting. When I first started running in the 1970s I specialized in 400m. I did not do anything like your training program though! I trained with middle distance runners through the winter and ran cross-country nearly every weekend. There were lots of hill runs and long sprints over muddy fields as well. It can’t have done me too much harm because I set a world record for a 13 year old. the problem was that as I got older I had the endurance to run the race, but I was not fast enough. At 13 I could run 12 seconds for the 100, so my training helped me to maintain the speed over the distance. As I got older, I found that I could not increase my overall speed sufficiently to break the 50 second barrier. I am build more like a middle distance runner anyway, so perhaps I should have taken my chances against Coe and Ovett.

    >> Steven, I think your comments underscore the fact that the 400 is a sprint race, and, at the end of the day, speed reserve is going to still be the key to running fast. A 400m runner with a 200m PR of 22.0 has a decided advantage over a 400m runner with a 22.5 PR. Remember, most (if not all) World Class 400m runners are former 100m and 200m runners who moved up and rarely do you see a Champion at the elite levels who moved down from the 1500 or 800 to the 400.


  • K. Brown says:

    My 9 year old son won this year’s long jump at the AAU Junior Olympics. He also medaled in the 100 and just missed a medal in the 200 in which he ran a 28.5. He wants to work on dropping his 200 time. How good of an idea do you think it would be for him to run 400 hundreds doing the first half of the season in meets? I have no idea on the strategy of a 400. When do you get out, float or reexcellerate?

    >>I think that would be an excellent idea. My strategy for the 400 depends on the athlete, but I’m going with a Clyde Hart(ish) approach this year which is – Get out and up to pace in the first 50 meters, float from 50-200, run the third 100 hard (like you’re running up hill) and then try to keep it together over the last 100m. I’m having my athletes back off a bit in the first 200m and focus on the third 100 this year as opposed to taking it out hard over the first 200.


  • K. Brown says:

    Thank you. I will definitely incorporate this strategy next season.

  • Werner says:

    I agree with what you are trying to achieve with your program. It touches on all the basic biomotor abilities an athlete needs. My question is, how do you identify a potential 400m runner in a group of sprinters?

    >>> Great question and another example of a situation where I try not to make things more complicated than they are. During the first week of the season I run a 400m time trial. I identify potential 400m runners by looking for:

    1. Naturals who go out and run with and/or try to stay with my proven 400m runners
    2. Kids who go out hard. They may die at the end, but you need to be aggressive and have no regard for pain to be a 400m runner. If kids go out and jog the first 200, they may not have what it takes.
    3. Kids who run a consistent race with a nice stride pattern. The 400 is a rhythm race so if a kid naturally exhibits the ability to run an aggressive, but consistent pace, we may have a winner.

    Start there and you should be able to identify some talent.


  • paul graham says:

    This stuff makes great sense and is somfin i havnt tried before. But, my old programme (prior to cst 2 months ago) consisted of hi knees in sand on the spot for 45” and rest for 75”. i personally found it aid my knee lift as a hip flexor conditioning. would you not incoorporate high knees into yours in the gpp?

    Finally, i have lunges, split squats, plank, push ups, and single leg squats in my body weight exercises. you said we need 10?? any ideas latif?

    >>I don’t preach high knees in the traditional sense, instead I teach ‘A run’ which, in my opinion, is more functional in terms of running mechanics. It’s one of the drills in DVD5 in CST.

    With bodyweight exercises, again, there are a ton of options in DVD3 in CST.


  • Isaiah Vasquez says:

    Hi Latif I was wondering, what workouts do you reccomend not only a 400m runner but 800m runner as well?

    >>There really is no short answer to that question. If you’re looking for that type of information I recommend the following resource:

    – Latif

  • Andy says:

    Hi Latif,

    Great program!

    Just wandering the reason for the high intensity 20 m acceleration on the very first day of the week? With athletes coming back from aprox a month lay off. Isn t trying to make athletes sprint high intensity putting them at greater risk of injury?

    Also, you start week with shorter distances and they seem to get longer as the week goes on ending with run on Fri. Whats the reason for that?

    >>> Very good question Andy. Even though it’s the first day of the formal training program, I expect kids to have been doing some sort of activity leading up. So they shouldn’t show up a hot mess. The accelerations are only 20 meters and only at 90% intensity, so at that pace and with 2′ rest, it should not be so stressful that injuries or excessive soreness occur. By the time athletes get out to 20m, at submaximal pace, it’s time to shut it down. But that is a perfect example of something to monitor as the coach. If kids complain or break down, shut the workout down or move it to later in the week. But I like to put the fast work requiring the most technical proficiency early in the week when kids have the most energy.

  • John Locke says:

    Quick question, what percent are the hill workouts supposed to be run at? All out?

    >>>Run them at a pace that will allow you to run consistent times for the total number of intervals with a walk back recovery. Go too fast and the walkback recovery won’t be enough rest and each rep will get a lot slower and you either won’t finish the workout or you will throw up. Which is a problem for some athletes…

    Run too slow and you’ll finish the workout and say, ‘That was way too easy’. The pace should be challenging, but not ridiculous. Roughly speaking they should be around 80%. On a scale of 1-10, considering it’s the first week, it should be around a 5-6.

    The purpose of the workout is to learn pacing. Sometimes we learn pacing by having to hit exact times for a particular distance. Other times, especially early in the season, we do it by figuring out how to manage consistent times and efforts for the duration of the workout.

    – Latif

  • Learie says:


    Do you factor massage therapy into your programs? At what stage and how often?

    >>>I love massage and have been getting it regularly since I tore my hamstring as a senior in high school. I often will massage my athletes when they are excessively sore or ask for it, providing I have their parent’s permission. Fortunately my rapport with kids and parents is such that there is no question of my motives.

    I don’t make it a regular part of my training or recommend it too heavily as it is expensive. But, if the kid has the means, I recommend they get a massage weekly or biweekly, particularly once we are in the competitive period of the season and the training intensity is extremely high.

    I think massage is one of the most underutilized recovery mechanisms available to athletes, young and not so young.


  • Kaison says:


    I ran both cross- country and track all four years of high school. Im a better than average cross-country runner and a state qualifyer in the 200 and 400. I currently run cross- country and track in college and was wondering if running long distance cross-country runs would slow down my 200 and 400 meter times by converting my fast twitch muscles to slow twitch.

    >>> Only if all you did was run distance. As a sprinter you should be doing speed work year round. In fact, many progressive cross country programs have added acceleration development to their training. So if you’re never running anything at or faster than 400m race pace, then yes, you will get slower.


  • Kelly Jones says:

    I am 52 years old and wish to begin training for 400 M What are your sugestions ? What puplications do you sugest ?

    – I recommend you keep opening my emails. Most other information on the internet, specific to this topic, is extremely advanced or exremely useless.


  • Kelly Jones says:

    I am 52 years old and wish to begin training for 400 M What are your sugestions ? What puplications do you sugest ?

    – I recommend you keep opening my emails. Most other information on the internet, specific to this topic, is extremely advanced or exremely useless.


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    Steal my 400m program (Week 1) – Strength and Conditioning Training for Sports

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