Improving Your 400 Meter Dash with Mind Set and Strategy!

 Improving Your 400 Meter Dash with Mind Set and Strategy! 
By: Derrick Campbell
Athletes need to run the 400 meter dash with the right mind set and correct strategy to finish strong! While running the 400 hurdles and the mile relay at CSU Long Beach, I have been in many different types of races that involved many different types of finishes. From my past experience, discussions with many different coaches, and studying other great 400 meters runners such as Michael Johnson, Jeremy Wariner, Quincy Watts and  Danny Everett, I have been able to lead my athletes to help improve their 400 meter times with some mental preparation and planning.There is a specific science and athletic strength needed to excel in the 400 meters. Some of the tips that I have learned over my years, I am sharing with you today! 
Dynamic Warm Up
The most important part to excel in any race or sport is always how you warm up. Without having the proper warm up before any competition, practice or training could have detrimental to the outcome of any athlete at all levels. Before I give my athletes these tips I always go over their warm up to make sure that it is not missing anything or is not too long where it might limit their force production during competition. Once they understand how important a dynamic warm up is then we can focus on the race.
Getting Set Up
Getting into the blocks is different with every athlete and you must learn to do what is comfortable. The most important thing is to be settled and relaxed in the blocks to be ready for the starters gun. It is important to stay focused on listening for the gun so that you can zone out all other external noise. On the initial reaction to the gun, focus on the first 50 meters out by leaning forward and steering to the inside of the lane. You need to get out hard for the first five steps and push through each step to reach triple extension on the leg to get up to race pace. 
Perfecting the Race 
The second portion of the race is from 50 – 200 meters out on the track. From the top of the first curve try to get a sense of where you are in the race. On the back stretch it is important to keep your body tall, step over each knee on your stride, have big arm action, and execute big knee drive. You want to turn your stride into a floating sprint while being able to maintain your speed. Control and relax your breathing to help keep your body body and face relaxed.
Getting past the 200 meter mark and into the second turn is where you have to re-accelerate for at least the first 20 meters. Here you should be thinking that you will attack the turn! I always tell my athletes to run as if you are running up hill because this is where having a strong mental training program would come in to help fight off any fatigue build up. Try to lean into the turn and keep your body tall while maintaining control of your running technique.
Now, you are in the last 90 – 100 meters! Everyone talks about the monkey jumping on your back or hitting a wall. Those athletes with the most mental strength are able to maintain form with their head and body can have an advantage over their competitors. Arms need to have an over exaggerated motion with the legs stepping over the knee and driving down. The biggest key is to be mentally strong to have the energy to finish hard while pushing through the finish line!
Every athlete is different and each athlete may be physically more talented than others, so the tips I have given you today will help but without the proper athletic training both for pre-season and during the season you may not get the results you are expecting. For additional information or to answer any questions on what your training program should include, please email me at 

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