Training Ideas: Hard Kick 500

Imagine blasting through a 10k – the wind in is gentle, the skies are clear. Everything is perfect. Even the temperature fits the mood of the warm, yellow midday hue. Your start was impeccable, your pacing is on point, and the hills can’t break you. You have a kilometre to go – then everything starts shutting down. You catch your breath becoming sharp and quickened, your legs lose the power they once had. You’re becoming exhausted, and you can’t hold the pace. You begin to drop off in the final stretch.

This is a common scenario for many runners, in fact a majority of runners will experience this in their running career. How can this be fixed? Your start and middle are strong, but you can never get the kick no matter what pace you do. Part of the reason is a lot of people train for the start and middle, but they never simulate the finish. This is where our “hard kick 500” comes in.

This training is designed to simulate a tired but hard finish to prepare you for the moment come race time.

Cool page jumps:

Our Running Idea:

The hard kick 500 is part of sprint interval training, where you run a 400m interval with a twist. The fact remains that everyone should learn how to push through even when your body wants to quit, and that’s where the kick is important. This idea involves running a set of 400m intervals with the final one or two having a kick to it.

Hard Kick 500:

These last couple intervals will be tough – because you have to run an extra 100m, with as much energy as you have left. Then again. It takes a great amount of energy, and a greater amount of willpower. Half of the kick is physical strength, but the other half is all mental strength. If, for example, you’re training to have a better kick in the 5k with a goal PB of 25:00, try this: run 4x400m @ 4:55/k, then 2x(400m @ 4:55/k directly followed by a 100m full sprint). Give yourself a couple minutes of rest between each interval.

Your legs will take quite a beating. By sprinting the last 100 metres, your fast-twitch muscles will be pushed to their limits. Intermediate and slow-twitch muscles will be used extensively as your energy is exhausted and your body begins recruiting every muscle fiber.

A lot of form can be improved as well in this training, because most people tend to break form when tired. By actively paying attention and watching how you land while reaching exhaustion, you can improve running form and economy for when you need it most.

This is a great exercise to test your limits and improve both your physical and mental strength.

Take Note:

This type of exercise is very tough on the legs, so a long warm-up and cooldown is needed to prevent injury. Stretch an ample amount before and after the workout to prevent locking up or tightening up your muscles too much. A foam roller does wonders for this. One way to reduce soreness and release tension in a muscle is to simply dig your thumbs into the muscle to help loosen it up.

Make sure to have a recovery run or rest day the day after. Muscle only grows when you give it time to recover, not during the exercise itself. In fact, exercise weakens muscle. The key thing to note about this is to always give yourself rest days. Proper diet and rest can improve you tremendously as an athlete.

Bonus Idea:

Sometimes 400m is too long for what you’re currently training for, or depending on how far along you are in your training. For those running shorter distances, try this:

Hard Kick 250:

Sprinters and track athletes might find this training better suited to their needs. Run 200m intervals as usual, followed by a couple 250m intervals. These 250m intervals are the same as the 200m intervals but with a 50m kick. Land with crushing power from your toes, try to push as much energy into the ground with every stride. Your legs and lungs will be tired, but you can help build up your comfortable pace for around the track and increase top speed.

A 2o0m interval is already tough, and similar to the 400m, it will require a lot of mental strength to kick the last 50 metres. You will improve greatly, however.

Final Notes:

The kick is a very important part of a race. It could be long, it could be short – but it always has its place. For the 200m, the kick is in the last 50m. In the 800m, it could be the last 100m, or even 300m. It all depends on how your body runs, and how much training you have done.

Some people have a very strong 100m kick, but couldn’t do a 300m kick. It’s what their body is built to do. Others don’t have the pure speed and fast-twitch muscles needed for such a short but very powerful kick, and instead have excellent endurance and mental strength to handle a longer kick.

As with any exercise, stop if something feels wrong. No training is worth pulling a muscle for. Hydrate yourself, stretch often, and pay attention to your limits. Developing the kick requires a certain base distance to have already been built up, as the kick can only be worked on after the middle and start have been worked on.

It takes a lot of mental strength to do this exercise, but developing the kick will put you on top – and gives such a rush.

Featured image by Gia Goodrich under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic license. Underlayed in a filter.


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