Run 400 meters in 1 minute

June 5, 2009

As you can see I haven't been working at this goal recently, but I look forward to resuming work on it sometime in the future :)

September 15, 2008

It has now been seven weeks since I was last at the track, and four weeks since I last went out for a run. Yikes.

My physical activity during the last four weeks has been the lowest it's been for about a year... around 40% of typical, with one week seeing basically zero of anything, including walking!

The silver lining is that I've been enjoying riding my bike back and forth from work, and I've had the chance to do it more than average given the beautiful weather. I've also upped my pace, averaging 27+ km/h rather than my typical 22, and now and again I've been pushing myself close to my limits, figuring out the fastest reasonable speed at which I can bike the various parts of the journey... 52 km/h down the hill on Columbia St. towards work, 33 km/h up the hill on Columbia St. towards Fischer Hallman, and 47 km/h down a slight incline towards the round about on Laurelwood.

Getting off the bike feels good, with an all-around firm feeling in my legs. I get the sense it's more akin to running 400m than most of the other exercise I've gotten this year.

Still, the overall inactivity, poor eating habits, and less sleep, have taken their toll. My weight is back up over 190 lbs and I generally feel lethargic. Poo.

Tonight after looking through this month's Runner's World magazine, I had enough gumption to get up out of bed and go to the track. It felt a bit funny to run, but off I went. It's been so long that I completely forgot my water bottle, which I don't think I've ever done!

Tonight's eight laps: (2:00 warmup, 1:45ish warmup, then targeting <= 1:39)

2:00, 1:42, 1:34, 1:35, 1:35, 1:33, 1:35, 1:33

AV: 1:35.3 (not including first lap)

On one hand, it was fun, since these are the fastest times I've run an 8 lap 400m workout, but considering how exhausted I felt at the end of the workout, tonight was anything but encouraging! After getting home, I looked up my July 21 workout and calculated it's average: 1:36.1, just a shade slower, and it included a 1:31 lap, and, amazingly, a 1:28 lap at the very end of the workout. I had written: "The last lap felt great. It was smooth and fast, and felt almost effortless: 1:28."

In striking comparison, the 1:33 that I ran tonight at the end of my workout felt, well, labored and exhausting.

There are two ways to look at this. One is to be depressed and think about the fitness I've lost. The other is to realize that 1:28s feel smooth and effortless when you're active, healthy, and consistent. It's the fruit of good habits. Something to look forward to again.

August 20, 2008

Wow, has it already been three weeks since I was last at the track? Yikes! Here's what I've been up to:

The weekend after my last track session was up at Meredith's cottage. I ran a moderate 4k on the Saturday to the beach, and then ran the same distance on my way home in about 21:15 / 5:18/km / 2:07/400m.

I missed my track session the following week and before I knew it we were down in Turkey Point for the weekend. I went out for a run and was going to do some intervals, but I felt extremely sluggish and only managed one interval before I was exhausted. Later on when I was back in Waterloo, I headed out for my first game of ultimate frisbee in about a year. (Wow!) It was fun to focus on some sprinting, and I also noticed that my ability to run at an approx 1:50/400m pace is much improved. I can run 60 meters down the field at that pace without it making my breathing noticeable, and yet it gets me where I need to go in fairly short order.

As fun as it was, all the fast running really pooped me out, and the next few days I was quite sore, and not in the good way. It felt like things were strained a little, and it definitely didn't make sense to be going to the track in that state.

I was gone pretty much all weekend camping, and did lots of running around playing football, soccer, and frisbee, and again, the stop-and-go running made my legs feel somewhat strained. Then, out of nowhere, my hips started to get tender, and again, not in a good way.

So it's been a funny three weeks without any time at the track and with my legs feeling somewhat strained with stop-and-go field sports.

I've also come to the realization that I need to readjust the goal. Running 400m in 0:55 doesn't make sense for me. I'm not saying it's impossible, but in the end I realized that the point of goals is to encourage yourself to focus, work hard, and then accomplish what you set out to do (and have fun doing it). Having unrealistic goals means that you can't really plan/chart towards completion, and so you have this open ended thing without any light at the end of the tunnel. The other big factor in my decision is that the reason I chose 0:55 is that I figured I could run 1:00 at the drop of a hat if I really pushed it, and so I thought I should probably choose something that would be a challenge. Obviously my intuition was very wrong!

Readjusted goal: Run 400m in 1:00

July 30, 2008

Last week I intended to laps of <= 1:41 after a 2:00 warmup, and my times were:

2:00, 1:31, 1:35, 1:38, 1:42, 1:38, 1:41, 1:28

As usual, my times were almost all faster than the benchmark time. The last lap felt great. It was smooth and fast, and felt almost effortless: 1:28.

I had intended to do this week's run on Monday, but it came and went. So I went last night, 8 days after my last run.

There was more impatience in the air. I felt like I should do another time trial, even though it had only been three weeks since my first. I was undecided, and the fear of "that'll hurt" lingered in the back of my mind. After a 2:00 warmup lap and a 1:25 first lap, my mind twigged and I decided that I'd go for it.

My body seemed to be having some trouble recovering from the 1:25 in a timely manner, which wasn't a good sign, but off I went.

Time trial #2: 1:08

This was the first time that some of my first steps were hard and quick, and my pace quickly became a modest but substantial sprint. After the first 80 meters or so, I could feel my quads telling me that they were being strained and were close to the point of injury, so I had to moderate my sprinting speed a bit more.

Things went well as I rounded the 200m point, but my speed started to vary. My intensity stayed the same, but it sort of felt like I was running with little weights on my ankles. And of course, the last 50-100 meters I was really looking forward to making it across the line so that I could stop! I think 1:08 is quite close to my physical limit at this point and time. Perhaps I could shave off another couple of seconds, but I'd probably strain a muscle.

It took about 30 seconds before the uncontrollable breathing subsided and about 2 full minutes before I wasn't huffing and puffing... what a workout for the body. It makes me think: yes marathons are tough, and yes they are a real workout for your heart and lungs, but they can't compare in my mind (at least the way I run them) to the strain placed on the body by a 400m sprint. It's an intense enough experience for me to actually feel sorry for my body!

The psychology of running an all-out 400m is significant. As I jogged home exhausted and with a mild sense of nausea, thoughts go through your head like, that's really hard, why would I punish my body like that? The conclusion for me is that pushing your body to its limits isn't where the joy is. The joy is in the training at a lower overall intensity and seeing gains. And yes, at some point you need to test yourself, but tests like this should be limited, perhaps to once every month or month and a half.

And so, 55 seconds looms very large, but there are a couple of things to realize: 1) That there is no pressure in these things, because it's all for joy, and to do your best. I will feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment if and when I run 400m in under a minute regardless of the fact that it's not 55 seconds. 2) Significant things require a lot of patience and persistence. Again, it's all about the training, finding joy in the training, and working over time to do your best. It's not about doing it today or tomorrow or next week. If you could accomplish something that easily, it wouldn't be your best.

Update: Three days later, and my legs are still really sore. My poor quads!

July 14, 2008: Laps of <= 1:47

Tonight I went to the track for the second time since being back from Europe. My goal was to run a warmup lap at 2:00 and then seven more laps at about 1:47/lap. As per usual, my laps were a bit faster than I had planned:

2:00, 1:41, 1:43, 1:42, 1:48, 1:53, 1:38, 1:41

It feels great to be running a bit faster than I was before our trip. A pace of 1:38 starts to feel substantially different -- the stride is quicker and you feel your quads and hamstrings working at a higher intensity level. Even your arms become a more involved.

Update: A couple of days later, my hamstrings are a touch sore. But the "good" kind of sore... it's neat to have that sensation again: Long distance running doesn't really do that the same way.

July 8, 2008: Testing the waters

Last night was my first time running since back from Europe, and was only the second time I had run in three weeks.

As I jogged up to the track, I had an air of impatience: Although I have been good about starting gently into my training, I felt like I needed to have a better idea of where I'm starting from ability wise. I decided I'd do a 2:00 lap, then a 1:50 lap, a 1:40 lap, a 1:30 lap, a 1:20 lap, and if I was feeling good, I'd perhaps try a 1:15 lap so see how it felt.

After doing an easy 2:00 lap, I went for 1:50, and ended up doing 1:35. Whoops! But things were feeling good, so I decided to try for 1:30. I ended doing a 1:20 lap... my impatience was blindingly obvious! The 1:20 lap was difficult, but not quite as hard as I had thought it would be. I was breathing heavily the last 100 meters, but there wasn't very much "I need to stop" sensation.

Although I was tired, I figured I'd try one more time and see if I could do 1:15. As I headed off past the 50m mark, I had picked up a fair bit of speed, and by 150m the thought went through my head that I wanted to just stop then and call it a day because finishing the lap at that pace was going to hurt. But in the end I just stuck it out.

Time trial #1: 1:11

The last 100m was of course a test of will, and I was breathing very heavily, but not quite "I'm going to die" heavily, so that was good.

It feels great to have done a lap at 20km/h, but it has underscored in my mind that to run 400m in a minute is in fact a sprint: It is running at almost your top speed and not stopping. It's a little hard to imagine at this point.

At some point I think I'll need to start doing some intervals, and then from there, work on my 40m and 100m sprinting.

June 12, 2008: Can I really do this?

Tonight at the track the plan was to do 8x400m at 2:00/lap. My fastest lap ended up being 1:42, and as stood there looking back at the track, contemplating what 0:55 would be like, I could hardly imagine it being possible. Wow!

I think 1:30 will mean running fast, while 1:20 will mean running very fast and being really pooped on the home stretch. But isn't that impossibly far away from 0:55? Yikes! :)

Only time will tell.

June 6, 2008: Some Googling

I did a bit of reading of the top search results for "400m training" on Google. Here are my notes:

Two main components: Speed and endurance
Some runners have enough speed, but lack the endurance to sustain it through 400m
Some runners have plenty of endurance but lack the speed necessary
Ability to run "relaxed" and efficient to reduce fatigue
Strong core fitness to maintain good posture and overall form under high levels of acidosis
A 49s 400m athlete may run the first 200m in 23.5 and the second 200m in 25.5, with the last 100m in 13.5. i.e. 100m paces: 11.75, 12.75, 13.5
400m runners need more lactac acid tolerance than other sprinters
Running 500s as a way to train for lactac acid tolerance
Being severely out of breath is the sign you're training the lactace system
Maximum speed; workouts to develop maximum speed
10m, 30m, 40m, 50m, 60m
Overpseed training: Running down hills

It's pretty obvious that sprinting ability is half the battle, but I'm hesitant to approach my training that way since I feel like, for myself, that's a recpipe for injury.

My plan for this summer is to slowly increase my speed, week over week, and see what happens. I think that's the best way to avoid injury: Give the body time to adapt.

June 5, 2008

Now that I've completed the marathon, I'd like to actively work on this goal. I wish I had others to work with -- I appreciated so much having the Running Room and other half marathoners last year, all of us working towards a common goal.

Last Thursday, five days after Ottawa, me and my still sore legs went out for my first post-race run. I climbed the hill up to Sir John A. MacDonald Secondary School and went once around the track in an easy going time of 2:00. It was the first time I had been to the Sir. John A. track, and the first time going around a 400m track in about 7 years!

On Tuesday I went for my first substantial run since Ottawa. I was intending to do roughly 10k, but I didn't bother mapping my route out. And as I started down the Erbsville road toward Columbia St., my pace quickened a fair bit past my usual 7:00/km. I told myself to slow down so that I wouldn't strain something, but off I went at about a 5:30 pace. I ended up doing 7.2k in 40:03, averaging 5:34/km. (As good as it felt to run quicker than my usual pace, it's amazing how much more energy it takes, and how tired you feel afterwards! And it amazes me to think how difficult it must be to run 10k at a 4:30 pace... wow, or at 4:00/km... how on earth!?)

Tonight was my first visit to the track where I was intending to run a few repeats. I did 8 repeats at 2:15, and things felt pretty good all things considered. My game plan is to spend the first few weeks taking it very slow to give my body lots of time to adjust to running at a faster pace. Part of it is mental too: Even tonight, as I was going around the track, I could feel my mind envisioning things and imagining what I'm going to need to do to run fast. Getting your head on board and in gear is all part of it!

I seem to be more anxious about this goal. The marathon was a real challenge, but it felt more "common", more "proven", more a matter or simply applying the effort and getting the job done. But there's something about this one that makes me question whether I'll be able to do it.

My left knee has been feeling a bit funky recently, so hopefully that doesn't cause me any trouble. I'll be pleasantly surprised if I don't suffer a few injuries along the way to this goal. While running long distances is hard on your body, running quickly is pretty hard on it too... it is extremely easy to strain something!

As I work towards this goal, I need to start thinking in terms of pace per 400m rather than pace per km. Here's a little conversion table. It lists two km/h speeds: The first is the average speed, the second is the running speed corrected for a 4 second acceleration, which really only comes into play once you're running 400m in about 1:05.

2:15/400m = 5:38/km = 10.7km/h
2:10/400m = 5:25/km = 11.0km/h
2:00/400m = 5:00/km = 11.5km/h
1:50/400m = 4:35/km = 13.1km/h
1:40/400m = 4:10/km = 14.4km/h
1:30/400m = 3:45/km = 16.0km/h
1:25/400m = 3:32/km = 16.9km/h
1:20/400m = 3:20/km = 18.0km/h
1:15/400m = 3:08/km = 19.2km/h (world class marathon pace, my 400m pace in grade 7)
1:10/400m = 2:55/km = 20.6km/h (a little bit faster than world record marathon pace)
1:05/400m = 2:42/km = 22.1km/h / 22.3km/h full speed
1:00/400m = 2:30/km = 24.0km/h / 24.8km/h full speed
0:57/400m = 2:22/km = 25.3km/h / 26.1km/h full speed
0:55/400m = 2:18/km = 26.0km/h / 27.2km/h full speed

So, if I'm successful, I'm going to need to be able to run at just over 27km/h (16.9mph) for roughly a minute. That's pretty fast!

March 29, 2007

Tonight I joined the boys at the track for the first time on a Thursday. We ran 5k together, this my first time trying to keep up with them. I was pretty spent by the end of our 20 laps, which took 26 minutes. For my last lap, I decided to sprint... now this is only the second time I've sprinted these three months that I've been training, so I savored it. But I was shocked, and, ok, amused too, at how slow I was. I was sure to time myself, and came out at 44 seconds for 250 meters. That equates to a 1:10 time for the 400m -- a long, long cry from the 0:55 pace that I figured I was running when JE and I sped around the track a few weeks ago. I've got some work to do! My heart rate topped out at 204 bmp, so that's interesting to know what my max heart rate really is.

March 5, 2007

Last night I ran the Running Room's scheduled 9kms at the Waterloo Memorial Rec Complex indoor track. For the first time in a very long time I tried a bit of sprinting. John-eric and I ran the 250m track in somewhere around 35(?) seconds, which is about 25 km/h, and would make for about a 57 second lap of a 400m track. I wish I had actually timed us using my watch so that I wasn't just making a number up... I'll try that next week. It felt fantastic to run like that. Although it was a sprint, my strides were very fluid. We were starting from a jog and running quite a ways, so it wasn't the banging motion of accelerating from stand still... it only took about 5 seconds to reach top speed and from there it was smooth, fast sailing!

Just for fun I searched Google Video for "800m race" and found the 1996 Atlanta olympic men's 800m. Nice!