“WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: ALTERNATING 400's” by Mario Fraioli for Competitor.com offers a “challenging track session” that “teaches you to recover while running fast". He provides details but the essentials of the workout are that you run one 400 meter lap at 5K – 10K pace followed by a recovery lap that’s only 10 seconds slower, and repeat that sequence until you can't hold your intended pace! He makes the point that these are not “repeats”, but one long continuous session.
Those of you who have not trained in this fashion might want to learn a bit more about standard running tracks. It can be confusing when sometimes workouts that call for completion of laps are called “400s”. As we learned in elementary school math class, the unit of measurement utilized is key information. The distance of a standard track, set by the International Association of Athletics Federations, is 400 METERS.
“What is the Distance Around a Running Track for Each Lane?” was written by Kurt Schuster for Livestrong.com. This article discusses how/where on the track the distance is measured (20-30 centimeters from the inside of the track in Lane 1), and then provides the distances around each of the other lanes.
Beth Rifkin’s piece for Livestrong.com, “How Far is 400 Yards on a Treadmill?”, is helpful to those running speed workouts on this equipment. One lap on a standard track is a distance of 400 meters, or nearly a quarter mile, so to run a 400-meter “lap” on a treadmill you would run slightly less than .25 miles on the machine.
A mile is actually 1609.34 meters, thus .25 miles is officially 402.34 meters. Jimson Lee in a SpeedEndurance.com article, “440 Yards and 400 Meters Racing: Facts and Figures”, lets readers know this fact, and that an officially contested “mile (or 1609 meters) starting line is 9 meters back from a 400 meter track” start line.
Alexandra Rippy also for Livestrong.com, “How to Calculate Laps on a Quarter Mile Track”, has a suggestion for how to keep count of the number of laps you have run around a standard track, if you choose to use one for distance work. Since one lap is a .25 miles (quarter of a mile), she advises dividing the distance you plan to run by .25 (her example is 2 miles = 8 laps). Another easy calculation I use is to multiple the number of desired miles by 4 (recall there are 4 quarter miles to 1 mile); 2 miles x 4 = 8 laps. Her other tip is to put the same number of rubber bands on your wrist as laps you want to run, taking one off each time you lap that track. Loose bands, not tight ones, would be best.
*More yards v meters trivia for track fans: although 400 meters is nearly equivalent to 440 YARDS, the distances are not equal. The metric conversion to yards calculation (1 meter = 1.09361 yards) shows that 400x 1.09361 = 437.4 yards, obviously shorter than 440 yards.
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EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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