Technical Build-Ups: The Best Training for 400m and 800m Sprinters

Technical Build-Ups can help you develop speed and endurance while mastering form. They're the best training drill for 400- and 800-meter sprinters.

Sprint drills

What makes a workout program "the best," "the greatest" or even "the ultimate"—besides a coach's or trainer's opinion?

To substantiate such claims, we need to know why. By labeling Technical Build-Ups as "the best" drill for sprinters, I'm not just trying to entice you to read my article. This kind of speed work is designed to test your endurance as you perfect your form and technique. Although it's a relatively quick workout, it's extremely effective, covering all the bases to help 400m and 800m sprinters get faster. Perform it and you will soon realize why I call it "the best."  (See also Strength and Power for Speed.)

Technical Build-Up Workout

The session is organized as a series of technical build-ups over lengths of 100m and 200m. A 50m Skip and a 100m Walk separate groups of three Technical Build-Ups.

These are not meant to be full-out sprints. You will accelerate slowly and smoothly to 85% of your max speed. Maintaining good form is paramount for track athletes, and performing the drill at a more moderate intensity will allow you to concentrate on posture and technique. (Check your technique in Master Your Running Form.)

Progression Series

  • Three sets of 100m Build-Ups
  • Two sets of 100m Build-Ups with one 200m Build-Up
  • One 100m Build-Up, one 200m Build-Up and one 100m Build-Up
  • One 200m Build-Up followed by two 100m Build-Ups
  • One 100m Build-Up, one 200m Build-Up and one 100m Build-Up
  • Two sets of 100m Build-Ups with one 200m Build-Up
  • Three sets of 100m Build-Ups

Tips for 100m Build-Ups

  • Start each rep at a jogging pace
  • Accelerate to around 85% of your max speed
  • At the 100m-marker, immediately transition into a Skip for 50m
  • Follow the Skip with another 100m Technical Build-Up
  • Begin another 50m Skip and then a final 100m Technical Build-Up
  • After your final Build-Up, walk for 100m. Do not take the walk lightly. Although you need to focus on recovery, do not simply "shamble along." Maintain a rigid posture and a fast pace.
  • This is one set. At the end of the 100m Walk, transition back to the first repetition again

200m Build-Ups

  • 200m Technical Build-Ups follow the same design as the 100m series, except you will run for 200m instead of 100m.

The above video shows an athlete doing the first stage of the progression described above. As you can see, he's working in cold, heavy rain, which is exactly where this session comes into its own.

Implement these Technical Build-Ups early in-season. They are especially useful in cold weather, when breaking between sets would mean cooling down and risking injury.

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock