| Home  | Contacts  | About Us | Training  | Fixtures  | Results  | Scrapbook  | Club Records  | Links |
  Volunteers Needed - Can You Help ?  

T r a i n i n g

Michael Johnson

Race strategy for 400m

The following was taken from Michael Johnson's website which is not available any more. It seems to be a transcript of a commentary on one of his races.
The start is still important even though it's a 400 metres. For me, being a 200- and 400-meter runner, it's important that I don't get in the same aggressive mode as I am in a 200. So I want to get a good reaction but then stay a lot smoother in the 400 - basically, get a good start and establish a pace in the first 100 metres since this is the area where the pace of the entire race is really going to be started. If I haven't run the first 100 metres fast enough, then I'm going to have to make up that time in the second 100 metres.

On the backstretch, the second 100 metres, I just basically try to relax after the pace has been established and not really try to make any moves. I try not to slow down or speed up or anything like that, but just relax for that 100 metres after the pace has been established. Then, try to get a good 200-meter split, somewhere around 21 seconds. Once I've reached 200 metres it will look like I'm starting to run faster, and that's not actually the case. I'm actually just starting to put out more energy and starting to put more force into it, to try to maintain the pace that I've been running. It takes more energy to do that at this point because now we are 200 or 250 metres into the race, so that's why it's starting to look like I'm running faster.

The objective, strategy-wise, during the third 100 metres along the curve is to establish myself as the leader of the race coming off the curve.

Once I've established the lead the objective is just to make sure that everything (arms and legs) is going straight up and down, keeping my head straight and not moving from side to side. I just focus on the finish line and try to not do anything different, which is the difficult thing to do at this point because the body is starting to fatigue and it wants to do what it wants to do. I've got to work against it and kind of balance that with making sure that everything is just going straight up and down.

The race itself is certainly intellectual. You're always thinking about something every step of the way. The 400 is hard to pace since nobody can go out and run 400 metres full-speed from the gun. So there's a strategy and it's all based on pace and energy output.