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Speed Reserve in the 400m

  • Publication: uCoach
  • Year: 2011

In this article French sprints coach PJ Vazel uses historical data to explain the role of speed reserve in the 400m.

'The 400m race is an event requiring both speed and high intensity endurance and is acknowledged to be the toughest sprint because of the debilitating discomfort induced during its execution. It is impossible to run at maximum intensity for a full 400m and so, unlike other sprint events, runners start the race at a sub-maximal intensity. The ability to distribute energy efficiently over the whole race, in relation with the runner’s speed and endurance levels, determines the competition performance. From a training point of view, a balance needs to be found between the development of specific endurance for the 400m and speed development, which will provide a ‘speed reserve’ during competition. Speed reserve is the difference between the fastest time achieved on a distance shorter than 400m and the time taken to cover the same short distance during the 400m race – for example an athlete’s 200m PB compared to their split at 200m during a 400m race. How much of that speed reserve will be used during the first part of the race is a matter of tactics. In order to analyse the different aspects of speed reserve, it is necessary to look first into the structure of the 400m.'

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