400 Meter Repeats

I did my first set of 400 meter repeats yesterday as part of my half marathon training plan.  Although the actual speedwork took less than half an hour, this workout took everything I had! The idea behind the 400 meter workout is that you run 400 meters at your fastest maintainable pace, or approximately a quarter mile, followed by a quick recovery, and repeat.  You can do this workout on a track or find a straight, flat area where you can run back and forth.  I headed over to the Four Mile run paved trail near Shirlington and did my workout there.  I chose to do 6 repeats this time around, which was about all I could manage! Here’s how it went:

1 mile warmup – 10:09 pace

Repeat 1: 400 meters 6:32 pace, 240 meters walking recovery

Repeat 2: 400 meters 6:58 pace, 240 meters walking recovery

Repeat 3: 400 meters 6:36 pace, 240 meters walking recovery

Repeat 4: 400 meters 6:57 pace, 240 meters walking recovery

Repeat 5: 400 meters 6:50 pace, 240 meters walking recovery

Repeat 6: 400 meters 7:02 pace, 240 meters walking recovery

1 mile walking cool down

I was definitely pushing myself during the sprints to run as fast as I could! I found myself gasping for breathe and wheezing at the end of each sprint, so I may have been running a little too hard.  I think that in order for this workout to be fully effective, my recovery needs to be a jog so that I don’t get the chance to fully recover before the next repeat, and that will probably result in my doing the sprints at closer to my 5K pace, so closer to 8:00 than the paces here.  My running plan incorporates these workouts every other week, so I’ll practice that next time and add more repeats until I get to 10 intervals total.

This workout is great for building strength! Competitor ran an article on this workout back in March and noted the following benefits:

This is threshold training at its truest, simulates race surging and will teach your body to recover quickly while running fast.

“As you get fitter, your red line rises from about 80 percent of maximum heartrate to 90-95 percent,” writes world-renowned running coach and top exercise physiologist, Jack Daniels. “Physiologically, threshold training teaches muscle cells to use more oxygen–less lactate is produced. Your body also becomes better at clearing lactate: race-day red line speed rises.”

My body is definitely feeling sore today.  Time for some breakfast: Paleo zucchini muffins! FYI, Paleo baked goods are not nearly as good as the real stuff (although they sure look real, don’t they?).  My inconsistently Paleo self might be making some real muffins next week ;)

paleo zucchini muffins

Have you tried 400 meter repeats or a similar speed workout? What’s your variation?


2 thoughts on “400 Meter Repeats

  1. Wow! I’m really impressed by the pace you maintained in your reps. I’ve got a marginally faster 5k PB than you (25:06), but I don’t think I could maintain that pace for those reps – awesome :-)

    I’m about 7 weeks out from my next marathon, and did a rep session on Tuesday evening: 8x800m. It was meant to be at 4:52/km pace (7:49/mile) (this is from a training plan based on my 10k PB of 51:06)… but the best that I could manage was 8:07. It felt so difficult at the time, but this morning I had a session with my coach and I managed 1k in 4:52, so maybe it’s working!

    1. Dawn H.

      Thanks Tamsyn! I was shocked at my paces too, but I definitely need to slow down next time so I can actually jog the recoveries, instead of wheezing on the ground, lol. 800m repeats must be tough!! Awesome job. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, right?

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