First, using Horwill's 4 second rule, a 68 second 400m can yield a 72 second per 400 pace for 800 (2:24) and a 76 second per 400 pace for 1500 (~ 5:04 mile) IF your endurance is FULLY developed.
Consider uppng the mileage in the offseason if you can handle it.
As kemibe once said, runners should ask themselves the question "Why did I stop at x miles instead of x+10?"
Second, here are some posts from JK (a crying shame he does not post here anymore), ET, and Hadd regarding the subject of improving pure speed and enhancing a finishing kick at the end of the race. Enjoy.
"The best way to improve your kick ...
... is to PRACTICE doing it at the end of your RACES. Really dig as deep as you can and DO NOT FEAR the outcome. It will hurt. Bad. BADDER than bad. But once you nut up and suffer this hurt a couple of times, the ability to kick (even when you think there's no way you can merely hold pace) will begin to get easier, and it'll actually become like an old friend. You'll know you've encountered it before and you'll be sure you can deal with it. And pretty soon, you'll be finishing FASTER, not hurting as much, and not FEARING the hurt as much. There ARE some WORKOUTS you can do which will help your kick, but you won't be able to put any of them to use if you are unwilling to endure serious pain to beat the guy who's challenging you. You must envision WINNING and you must be FEARLESS.
Some workout suggestions
From a physical standpoint, your kick is a function of your raw speed, your ability to accelerate, AND how deeply you've had to rely on anaerobic energy production up to the point in the race that you launch the kick. Bearing that in mind, having a high AEROBIC capacity will give you a greater speed RESERVE (how much of your maximum sustainable oxygen debt you still have to "give away") than many runners who are flat-out faster than you are over 100m or 400m or whatever. So you should primarily train for aerobic endurance. The guy who trains ONLY for the kick shouldn't be close enough to you to use it, anyway.
As far as speedwork goes, you should ALWAYS be doing a little something about your turnover, even during a base-building phase. I refer to these workouts as "speed maintenance". They provide variety in footstrikes, muscle fiber recruitment, etc., which can not only keep you in touch with some speed, but can also help prevent injury.
Examples of speed maintenance workouts are simple buildups and strides and some form drills. You might try two to three sets of 5-6 buildups of 15-25 secs. WITH THE WIND (if any), jogging back (or jogging an equal distance) between each, and jogging 5-10 min. between sets. The first buildups in each set should be the slowest, but each set can be started slightly faster than the previous one (since you're going to be more warmed up). Every 2-3 weeks, you should tack on a fairly fast 2-7 min. run following the last set of buildups. The purpose of this is to get your heart rate up NEAR its maximum (also close to VO2max) WITHOUT tying up very much. Only run the 2-7 min. thing at about the pace you could run for TWICE the selected distance at first (e.g., run 3 laps at the pace you COULD currently run for 6 laps in a race).
Another speed maintenance session could be 2 sets of 5-6 x 30-35 secs. progressively faster EVEN-SPEED strides. Jog the same distance between each and jog 5-10 min. between sets. These can be run as 200m reps on a track (with the wind, if any) or they can sometimes be run DOWN a very gentle hill (keep the surface soft, perhaps on a golf course) to concentrate on a light, quick turnover. The purpose of emphasizing turnover on occasion is as a prelude to quick accelerations. You can also run some UPHILL reps, but they don't necessarily need to be FAST. Just using the correct form (hips beneath the torso - NOT leaning too far into the hill with the buttocks back) will work the correct muscles for hill running.
At some point near the start of a competitive season, the speed on sessions such as these can be deliberately WORKED a little more. You can also do about 10-12 progressively faster 12-15 secs. uphill repeats, finishing really fast. BUT - you should avoid tying up horribly in any case. Make sure you can hold form. The more you practice relaxation at close to top end speed, the easier it will be for you to recruit the necessary motor units (muscle cells and their connecting neurons) when it's time to kick it in at the end of a race.
Provided you've stayed in touch with your speed in the above fashion during a non-competitive season (or during the early part of a competitive season), and provided you've done some form drills (an entirely separate topic) you can introduce some "creatine phosphate" training. This initially entails a thorough warmup followed by 2 sets of 2-3 x 7-10 secs. all-out (take about a 20m running start before rally blasting the next 7-10 secs. - you don't want to strain anything!), with 30-60 secs. walking rest between reps and 8 min. rest (water break) between sets. After you've done this workout a couple of times (maybe once per week), you can add a third set to the above for one outing only.
Having completed 3 of the above "acceleration" workouts (remember to cover other training bases as well!), you should then proceed to a workout of 3-4 x 150m at 98%-100% effort with 30-60 secs. walking rest between each. Following this session (allow enough time for recovery and to include one or two other hard days), proceed to 3 x 300m at 98%-100% effort with 2-3 min. walking rest periods. The next "kick-specific" workout (about 4-5 days later) should be 2 sets of 2 x 400m at 98%-100% effort with shorter rests (near 1 min.) between reps and full recovery (8-ish min.) between sets. You may need to jog some and add a couple of light strides at the end of the 8 min. rest period in order to prevent straining anything at the start of the second set of 400s. These longer sprints work lactate "clearance" and use the creatine phosphate stores simultaneously. These two energy systems are precisely the systems which are invoked when you kick at the end of a race.
I might repost the drills if I can find the floppy disk I stored them on. There are also some more "advanced" workouts which involve pace changes, but those aren't really necessary unless you're at the highest levels of the sport."
"Speedwork for distance runners
Always include relaxed buildups, strides, and hills (and possibly drills) in your routine, even during base training. Buildups or strides should be EMPHASIZED 1-2 times per week, and they should also be done before and after many high-end aerobic workouts. If you're at altitude above 8,000 ft. and can't get to sea-level, you need to do some of these "quickies" nearly every day. As the competitive season approaches, these buildups and strides can be run with a little more determination (i.e., WORK on your speed, as opposed to merely "staying in touch" with it). Every now and then, include a time trial of 2-7 minutes at 90%-95% effort after your buildups (this keeps a small middle-distance component in your base work). Another middle distance workout consisting of structured Fartlek (repeats of 1-3 min. at a fairly fast but still predominantly aerobic pace) can be substituted for a workout of strides once every 2-3 weeks.
Anyway, SPEEDWORK. Assuming you've been doing the above speed maintenance stuff, you might start your PURE SPRINT work with 2 sets of (2 x 7-10 secs.) nearly flat-out. Get a running start before you blast the 7-10 secs. portions. Take about 1 min. walking rest between the two reps in a set and take 8 min. walking rest between sets. That's basically the whole workout right there (not counting a thorough warmup and a short cool-down).
The second time you try this workout (about 10 days later), increase the number of reps in each set to 3.
The next sprint workout (another 7-10 days later) can be along the lines of 4 x 150m at 98% effort, with 1 min. walking rest between each.
From there, proceed to 3 x 300m at 98%-100% effort with rest periods of about 3-4 min. of walking.
The next sprint workout is 2 sets of 2 x 400m at 95%-98% effort, with only about 1 min. between reps and full recovery (nearly 10 min.) between sets. You may have to jog a little or do a few "high knees" steps prior to the start of the second set to feel like you're ready to go again.
If you survive those workouts, you ought to run a time trial of 700m full-blast (start out very fast, only pacing yourself a tiny bit) about 5 days after the 2 x (2 x 400m) workout (include another hard but lower-intensity workout in between those two). About 2 days later, run a time trial of 1,000m. Again, get out FAST on this thing.
It's tricky sometimes to fit in other key workouts and races while doing this really fast stuff. You don't know for sure if you'll get sore from sprints like these; nor do you know how LONG you'll be sore. But if your schedule allows, these workouts can fortify your "quick energy" systems (creatine phosphate) and can enable you to buffer (and reuse) lactate better during races of all distances."
Running buildups SLOWER than all-out is meant to foster mechanical efficiency and relaxation. This will ULTIMATELY help with top-end speed by virtue of recruiting the motor units in the most economical fashion. Buildups are smooth accelerations which are designed to preserve a good deal of your creatine phosphate (quick energy). This way, you can do an adequate number of repetitions to promote neuromuscular reinforcement, but without form breakdown or risk of injury. And when doing sets of buildups, the first few in each set should be the slowest (i.e., you should not accelerate to as high a speed at the end of your first few reps in each set). But a couple of the latter reps in each set can involve an acceleration to FLAT-OUT speed (for about 20-30 meters). If you do these things correctly, you'll warm up gradually and enlist a wide variety of muscle fibers without any lactate accumulation and without exhausting your creatine phosphate reserves.
Even-speed strides (up to about 35 seconds) should follow the same format - the slowest ones are done at the beginning of the first set so you'll warm up properly and can set a precedent for running relaxed and with decent form throughout the remainder of the workout.
Bursts of 7-10 seconds should normally be done after FAST buildups and strides have become a COMFORTABLE part of the routine, and a few weeks prior to lactate-intensive (anaerobic tolerance) training. They shouldn't be used year-round. Buildups and strides (even fairly fast ones) CAN be done year-round.
It's important for a distance runner to focus on distance running; therefore, only a minor to moderate emphasis needs to be placed on the kind of workouts which attack 100m-400m speed. Stay in touch with SOME speed even during base training so it will be there for you when you begin race pace repetition running later. Only spend 3-4 weeks on honing your all-out speed. PRACTICE kicking HARD at the end of your races. Train in this fashion whether your primary event is 1,500m or 10,000m."
"Improving basic speed is fairly simple. The scenario I've seen many times is this. Let me introduce you to runner "Joe."
Joe is 27 years old, was decent but no better in H.S., tried to make the cross-country/track team at the local university but was unsuccessful. Joe ran 10:00 in the 3200 in H.S., and now runs local road races with an average 5k of 17:30. Joe runs about 40 miles a week and does intervals in the form of 800m and mile repeats in fartlek form with the local club.
Joe can no longer come close to a 10:00 3200. He can't do this because 5:00 for the mile is all he can muster. An 800m in 2:20 is a race for him.
Joe has 2 big problems that are equally important to address 1) Lack of mileage, 2) No speed. Joe, however has decided he wants some more success and is willing to work for it.
I look at his recent mileage and plot out a course for raising it. We go to the track and warm-up etc. and I put him through a small true speed workout. I have him run what I call an "accela 200." He starts out at mile race pace and builds speed over 200 meters until the last 20-30 are full out. This is always the final component of the warm-up and the beginning of the workout on a true speed day.
Because he has not done any true speed work since high school he will run 1 or 2 200s. I give him 5 minutes recovery and explain that he will run this next 200 as fast as possible while staying relaxed. He jogs into it with a raised hand, which is dropped when the 200 start is reached. As the hand drops I click my watch and observe. The effort to relax is apparent but he is not relaxed and isn't generating a lot of power. The time is 29.3. He walks a bit, jogs a 600 back to the start where I meet him and ask how he is feeling etc (rest was about 8 min). We decide to do another one. Same procedure, 29.7.
I let him know that he will be sore etc. but that his speed will improve. This workout is repeated once a week with the number of 200s increased to 5 after the accela 200. The recovery is whatever is necessary (within reason) to be ready to go again. Usually starts at about 8 minutes and drops to 5 minutes after a couple months. It is never reduced to less then 5.
Week 1: 29.3, 29.7
Week 2: 28.8, 28.5, 29.1
Week 3: 28.5, 28.4, 28.6, 28.8
Week 4: 28.1, 28.0, 28.3, 28.3, 29.2
Week 5: 28.2, 28.5, 28.4, 28.5, 28.4
Week 6: 27.7, 27.6, 28.0, 28.1, 27.3
(Finally gets around to buying a pair of spikes to use instead of road flats. The last 200 of week 6 was run in spikes. Joe put them on for strides 2 times during the week. He has not been sore so the last 3 will be run in spikes on week 7. Week 8 will be completely in spikes.)
Week 7: 27.5, 27.6, 27.0, 26.8, 26.6
Week 8: 26.9, 26.5, 26.4, 26.7, 26.2
Week 9: 26.3, 26.1, 26.0, 26.6, 25.9
Week 10:25.9, 26.3, 26.1, 25.9, 25.8
(During this time mileage was raised from 40-70)
This Joe levels off about here, two Joes I have coached progressed to the mid 24's, another is currently at about week 6. All Joes increased their mileage and threshold running and dropped up there 5k times substantially--and didn't get outkicked at the end. In less than a year Joe is now running 15:30 for 5k and 4:28 for a mile.
FOR MOST SPEED IS AS SIMPLE AS THAT.
If muscle imbalances are present drills are introduced to correct them. Usually the speed will fix them if it is run relaxed. Drills and plyos can be helpful but usually distract from the speed and a loss of specificity is incurred. Ability for 400 meter usually starts at 61-62 and drops to 53-55.
Don't over complicate things. Don't excessively worry about drills and form. Just do it and do it relaxed. Devote 1 workout a week to speed until you start to level off. After you level off finish 1 to 2 workouts per week with 1-2 fast 200s. For most people that is enough to maintain speed and some see continued improvement.
I like 200s because those are short enough to sprint but long enough to focus on relaxation.
Some may do it different, however this works so I stick with it.
My favorite athlete to work with is one who was a B class runner in HS, showing some talent, but never developed for one reason or another. For example I am working with an 800m runner who ran 2:00 flat in HS, 2:00 as a freshman in college and then quit. This guy will never make a U.S. national team but just wants to see improvement. Two weeks ago he raced for the 1st time in 5 years, the first time ever indoors, at 4500 feet, and 1 week after the highest mileage week of his life, and without a preparatory time trial, no hard 600's etc. He PRd with 1:59 FAT. He will peak for outdoors and run much faster. The two MAJOR factors? More mileage. More speed."
"Quite honestly I have never been asked to respond to a question that goes, ?ignore my training or performance leading up to the last 200m of a race, just teach me how to finish like greased lightning!?
I usually get guys who want to go from 17.00 for 5k to 16.00, or 16.00 to 15.00 and so on. They want to knock whole chunks off their PR?s, not save 2-3 secs in the last 200m. But what do I know, maybe you?re Paul Tergat and you?re fed up with that Ethiopian dude who busts yo? ass in the last 200m of every 10,000m final.
I knew two guys once like this. Runner A had a final kick like Coe wished he had, while runner B was an even-splits dude who couldn?t outkick my grannie. Their PR?s for 800m and 1500m were within 1-2 secs of each other?s, but when they raced together A beat B every time in the final sprint. Sha-zaam, and he?s gone. Didn?t matter what runner B tried, going out harder? kicking with 500m to go, all that stuff. Over 1500m he could not get away from B, who knew he only had to hang on till 200m to go and the race would be his.
Hills, drills? nothing worked. Runner B stood this for two track seasons and then upped the mileage and moved up to 5k and 10k. Turned out that was where his talents lay, very soon he was running 14.30 and 30.30. Not bad since he only ever ran 3.58 for 1500m at his best. Runner A never dared move up. Once or twice he showed up at low-key road races, but could never break 32.00 for 10k. In the end, each left the other to their best event.
Moral: if this is some guy bustin? your ass every time and you just want to beat HIM, and you don?t care about the finishing time? that might not actually be possible.
So, first question: are you running the right (physiological) event for you?
Next question: are you well-trained for the event in which you compete? Although this might not really be relevant, since you state that even if you finish in the same as your 200m PR time, you would still be slow as molasses (and presumably beaten by this other dude).
Why don?t I get to the point, you wonder and just give you the ?secret? training you really need?
The point is, I can think of a number of reasons why you might not be able to run fast. I would figure it out pretty quick if I could observe you, but? without that, here?s some possibilities:
1. You run like a marathon dude on your heels and have no idea how to get up on the balls of your feet and sprint. (Someone already suggested you work with a sprint coach)
2. Your leg muscles are weak and you run from your knees, not from your hips. (A good coach would confirm this, and you might need some weight work to strengthen your legs (esp: hip extensors) and some drills to improve your coordination. Even better, malmo?s ?heels? which do a pretty good job of combining all these.)
3. Your ?style? is horrendous, arms and legs everywhichway? (weeks and weeks or malmo?s ?heeels? and coordination drills with someone observing/videoing before slowly trying to transfer this into faster running on the track)
4. You haven?t a fast twitch fibre in your body (you say otherwise, without saying how you are so sure).
I coach a tiny little 15 year old guy who has legs like sticks? taking a long time to grow up, I guess. He started with me last Oct 01. He wanted to race 1500m and is full of piss and vinegar and willing to train (only reason I agreed to take him on, he's a gutsy kid). With a 5.36 PR, he had a dream to break 5.00 for 1500m, but he could not run 200m in 40 secs flat out. Not one. (5.00 for 1500m is 7.5 x 200m in 40 secs one after another without stopping. He could not run one.)
But he COULD run one hour long and easy. So we did lots of that, always within his capabilities. If there is a born marathoner, it might be this guy? run all day, but THIN. With his father following in the car, we had him running all sorts of hilly routes, but always aerobic, just miles and miles?
I even excused him from repeat 200 and 400s with the group, cause they all whupped his ass. By this July he ran 4.57 and I never saw a happier runner (and his father) in my whole life. I haven?t checked, but I doubt he could break 33-34 secs for one 200m all-out even now. But if he slows up just a little bit, he can now go round again and again at not much slower than this 200m best.
So, lotsa reasons why you cannot run fast. And I cannot tell which one is yours.
I am very aware that I have not contributed much, if anything here (and it bugs me too), but if you can think about it a bit more and can be more forthcoming with info? someone here might be able to offer some useful advice.
I know this is not what you wanted to hear. But on a message board, from one post, to expect anyone to guarantee they can knock 5 secs off your 200m time is optimistic. But there are many good points on all these posts (as I have shown) and by incorporating and working on the best of them you can find out WHY you cannot run fast, and then work from there.
Final point: if you race the 5k and are repeatedly getting ?jumped? in the final 200m, train to be better aerobically and kill this dude half a mile before the finish and it will not matter WHAT kind of final sprint he has? you?ll be gone.
Or move up in distance? it cannot be coincidence that Paula?s annus mirabilis began with a winter?s base training that enabled her to frighten the marathon world record first time out of the box. And she was someone who was ALWAYS getting jumped up to that point. She may even have had more 4th place finishes that anyone in the sport, and NOW look at her.
Dear original poster,
I hope you can see from all this that you problem is either:
1. Neuromuscular/coordination, call it what you will, getting all your appendages moving in the same direction at the same time. That you might need to learn the biomechanics of HOW to run fast. Get that brain-to-leg-muscle connection up to blistering speed. And a number of people have posted ideas: hills, working with a sprint coach who will begin with drills and wayyyy long-term eventually might even go on to "assisted sprinting" towed with a bungee cord, or downhill sprinting, etc.
2. Inadequate leg power. Through a lifetime of inaction, you are unable to generate enough power to physically move fast. Again, there have been a number of ideas; hills (again, and excellent), getting a coach to identify that this is the problem, working with a coach in a gym to develop the required musculature to run fast.
3. Or (more unlikely, but still possible), you are just like young Matteo in my example above. In an all-out sprint his legs just don't move any faster and he can't make them, he's like a young foal, all spindly legs. He's a tireless dude, but fast twitch fibres? Near zero (but I wouldn't biopsy him to find out!)
And that's IT. There is no secret here.
Note that I am not a big believer on improving at a thing simply by repeatedly doing that thing. Like basketball players don't get better at basketball simply by playing the game over and over. (They need physical training too) That's good for skill-learning (No1, above), but if that is NOT your problem, all the skill learning in the world will only take you so far.
While I'm on that subject, note that skill-learning is a lifetime process. Go to the World Champs warm-up track next year and you'll see Marion doing her drills, even after all these years. Talk to swimmers, they gotta get in the water every day or they lose the "feel" of the water.
All this just to say
a) don't give up on the 150s if you don't see an immediate result. But note that they will really only be helping technique. Keep refining that technique (first, get someone to confirm you're doing it right).
b) repeat 150s might not do a whole lot for you if your legs are just plain weak. Either hit the (up)hills or get a knowledgeable person to check you out in the gym and, if need be, get you on some kind of simple weights programme, at least to start (and I am not a big fan of plyos, either)."