The 400 meter sprint is exactly one lap around the inside lane of a standard outdoor track. Runners are positioned in separate lanes in a staggered manner to make sure that each runner runs the same distance as the rest. The key to winning a 400m race is the sprinter’s ability to maintain his stamina all throughout the sprint.
This race may look easy because of the short distance. But in reality, the 400m sprint is very difficult to run because you need to maintain the explosive starting speed up to the end of the race. The best sprinters take less than 50 seconds to complete the 400m dash.
In a 400 sprint, there are three phases.
- Starting Phase. This is where the sprinter tries to generate as much force as he can against the starting block to propel him away from the starting line. The sprinter is said to explode or leap out of the block.
- Acceleration Phase. This is where the sprinter runs with great speed. Acceleration decreases as speed increases. Therefore, to win the race, the next phase is very important.
- Speed Maintenance Phase. As the sprinter reaches his maximum speed, he can no longer accelerate. In order to win the race, he now has to maintain this maximum speed.
Here are some tips in maintaining your stamina in the 400-meter sprint race:
- Feet should maintain correct sprinting action. You should be running on your toes with your heels towards your buttocks. The toes are pushing or thrusting backwards on the track.
- Your knees should be pulling forward in a sprinting fashion and accelerating as they go down. Keep a good center of gravity for your body. This way, the pushing down action of your knees will propel you forward each time.
- Keep your body straight and tall. Do not tense up. Relax your muscles.
- Your arms must be close to your side in line with the body. Again, it should be relaxed. The arms should be moving forward and backward and not side to side. Hands are relaxed with the palms facing your body. Fingers should not be straight.
- Keep to a straight line, don’t wiggle around the track. You want to keep the distance between the start and the end clean and straight.
- Head should also be straight. Never look up or down.
- Breathe properly. Inhale and exhale through your mouth and not your nose. Breathing through the mouth relaxes your facial muscles and jaw. An improper breathing technique robs your body of oxygen that is sorely needed by a sprinter’s muscles. By breathing properly, you allow oxygen to enter your muscles at a smooth and steady rate thus increasing your stamina and allowing you to run more comfortably.
Of course, these tips should be coupled with a wide variety of physical activities to prepare you for the 400m dash – sprinting workouts, weight training, endurance training, plyometrics, core training, flexibility exercises and more. Having the right diet also adds to maintaining your body’s ability to run one of the toughest sprinting races. Finally, all your training and hard work will be wasted if you are not mentally prepared. Believe in yourself, be positive and maintain a winning attitude at all times.