It would be a mistake to characterize the 400-meter dash as a simple sprint event. Unlike shorter events, such as the 100- or 200-meters, no runner is going to run a 400-meter dash at a full-out sprint. As a result, tactics will play an important role. In addition to simply training with speed in mind, training with a focus toward how to tactically utilize your speed can make the difference in how you finish.
Include plyometric exercises into your training regimen. Note that these exercises increase speed by requiring muscles to reach maximum exertion in a short time.
Jog slowly to begin with. Lift the right knee upward and forward while using the left leg to push off the ground explosively to create momentum. Switch legs and repeat after landing.
Bound as high as possible with each step. Use your arms for additional momentum. Continue bounding for 100 meters.
Stand on top of a bench next. Support the spine and trunk by contracting the abdominal muscles.
Step off the bench with both feet simultaneously. Jump immediately upon landing up and forward as far as possible. Do 20 repetitions.
Stand in an upright position next. Position your knees shoulder-width apart. Bend at the knees in one quick motion and, at the same speed, leap upward. Do not let the thighs drop below a parallel position to the ground. Use your arms to create additional momentum.
Lift the knees while leaping and draw them toward your chest. Note that your knees should reach the chest at the highest point of each leap. Repeat upon landing. Do 20 repetitions.
Decide upon tactics during each stage of the race well before the starting gun.
Establish your pace in the first 100 meters. Begin the race quickly but do not allow nerves to dictate a higher pace.
Relax during the second 100 meters. Settle into the established pace. Aim for a strong split time. Note that when aiming for a specific split time, the first 200 meters are generally slightly faster than the second 200 meters.
Maintain your pace through the 300-meter mark. Focus on the additional energy required to maintain the established pace.
Fight for the best positioning possible coming out of the final turn and into the stretch to the finish. Focus on form in particular for this final stage of the race to counter the onset of fatigue. Keep your head from swinging side-to-side and pump the arms straight up and down. Focus singularly on the finish line.