Home » 400’s


by Steve

400’s or “quarters” as they are known in the US are synonymous with many athletes training programmes. Your local track is 400m in length so doing one lap is an easy distance to utilise in training. What we need to understand as athletes and coaches is that the particular repetition distance can be used in multiple different ways and achieve multiple different stimuli. In this article I will outline different types of workouts that people can use, using this popular distance. Please note all workouts below are samples and should always be tailored to the individual depending on their target race distance, physiological profile, training & injury history etc.


800m Pace:

  • 4 x 400m with 5-6 mins walk recovery OR 2 sets of (2 x 400m) with 90 secs walk recovery between reps & 10 mins walk between sets
    1500m Pace:
  • 6-10 x 400m with 90 secs-2 mins walk/jog recovery OR 2-3 sets of 3 x 400m with 75 secs walk/jog recovery between reps & 3 mins walk/jog recovery between sets
    3000m Pace:
  • 8-12 x 400m with 75-90 secs walk/jog recovery OR 2-3 sets of (4 x 400m) with 45-60 secs jog recovery between reps & 3 mins jog recovery between sets
    5000m Pace:
  • 12-16 x 400m with 60 secs jog recovery between reps OR 3-5 sets of (4 x 400m) with 45 secs jog recovery between reps & 3 mins jog between sets
    10000m Pace:
  • 20-25 x 400m with 45 secs jog rec OR 2 sets of (10-14 x 400m) with 30-45 secs jog recovery between reps & 3 mins jog between sets
    Half Marathon Pace:
  • 30-35 x 400m with 30 secs jog recovery between reps OR 2 sets of (15-20 x 400m) with 15-30 secs jog recovery between reps & 2-3 mins jog between sets

With the examples above we can see that 400m intervals can be used with a variety of different paces from 800m pace all the way to half marathon pace. What essentially changes is the volume of the workout and the recovery between reps & sets. As athletes & coaches when prescribing workouts we simply play around with the pace, the volume of the workout and the recovery between reps/sets. By doing this we change the stimulus we get from the given workout. This holds true for using any distances 400m/600m/800m/1000m/1200m/1600m/2000m etc. Think about what you are trying to achieve from the workout, what stimulus you are looking for and then look at the pace, the volume of the workout and the recovery. With regards the recovery think about whether you would like this to be walking, shuffle jogging or a float jog recovery where we keep the recovery part steady.
When we talk about achieving a certain stimulus lets look at two examples on the opposite end of the pace scale. The 4*400m workout at 800m pace produces very high lactate levels, heart rates near max levels, it is very physically & mentally demanding and it produces an anaerobic stimulus. The 400m workout at half marathon pace however produce far lower lactate levels, heart rates are lower, it helps improve lactate clearance and it is a total aerobic stimulus.

Also consider that 400m reps can be used in many other ways other than just as a stand-alone workout. They can be tacked on to the end of a workout or used within workouts. There is no one way to use them and mixing them with other paces works very well.

Some examples for experienced runners may include:

Tempo + 400’s:

10 min Tempo effort, 4400m @ 10km pace, 4 min Tempo effort, 4 x 400m @ 10km pace, 10 min Tempo effort

Uphill Tempo + 400’s:

5 min steady state uphill effort, 4 x 400m @ 5km-10km pace, 5 min steady state effort uphill, 4 x 400m @ 5km-10km pace

Short Power Hills + 400’s:

4-6 x 400m @ 10km pace, 4 x 10 secs short power hills, 4-6 x 400m @ 10km pace, 4 x 10 secs short power hills, 4-6 x 400m @ 10km pace

400’s at descending paces:

4-5 x 400m @ HM Pace, 4-5 x 400m @ 10km pace, 4-5 x 400m @ 5km pace, 4-5 x 400m @ 3km pace

Continuous Tempo + 400’s:

20-30 minute continuous Tempo followed by 4 x 400m on a track descending paces from 10km down to 3km pace

Mile Reps + 400’s:

1 Mile @ 10km pace, 4 x 400m @ 5km pace 2-4 sets

The examples above are just a way of showing how you can incorporate the use of 400m intervals in a mixture of different workouts. The key message here is that there is no one way or no set way to use them and they can fit into many different workouts. Athletes & coaches just need to play around with things, use their imagination and keep changing up their workout designs. A key message again to reinforce is that what we do with the volume of the workout, the pace of the rep and the recovery between reps/sets dictates the overall load and stimulus we achieve from it. Try different things out with different athletes and see what works well and what may not. Its about trial and error at times. Have fun with your design of workouts and don’t be afraid to try something new.

You may also like

Leave a Comment

About Me

Performance specialist who has 24 years of experience in Development & High Performance sport

My Blog

@2023 – All Right Reserved. Designed and Developed by Designation

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

Privacy & Cookies Policy