Clyde coaches with a mix of science, intuition and humour. His sense of fun comes out as he tells the story of why his athletes moved from a 300m session to doing 350m runs.
He said: "The workouts changed because of what research said. Many people get into their mind that running 300m is a 400m workout. It is not. It's a long speed workout. 3 x 300m is a 400m workout - or the last one is. But why waste the three others? You need a hard run of 40sec to get anaerobic. There is not a quality sprinter who won't run better than 40sec for 300m in practice so they are not getting lactate until the second or third. So the next time they came to the workout of 352 yards [300m] I had moved the cone to 350m. The first kid hadn't noticed and went off as though it was 300m and then at 320m it was like he had been shot.”
Clyde’s sense of humour was really shining through as he related the tale: “When he got off his knees and came through the finish he was saying some very bad things about the stadium manager for putting the cone in the wrong place.”
Clyde then explained what he had done and why.
"The guys were coming through in 28sec and running 48sec to 350m so they had 8sec of lactate build up. They were doing four off 5min to start.
"I got the ladies to run the same distance, they were running 31sec and 51sec."
Due to hitting 40sec earlier than the men the girls were filling up with lactic acid earlier and not hitting targets. They had 15sec of build up. It is about the amount of time spent in lactate. So the men do 350m and the women 300m.”
But the women do not get off so lightly! Clyde seems to enjoy adding a twist to their session: "The men do 350m x 3. The women do 300m, 300m then 350m. Why 350m on the last one? Because they have got all day to go throw up then.”
"Michael would run 3 in 45 sec off 5min. When he ran three in 43sec off 4min I knew he had never done that so I knew he was in the best condition for running off lactate that he had ever been.”
Clyde underlined the principle of training not being racing. It is about preparing the body to race: "The body, like anything else, responds to stress. You can't put it under stress in a big competition and expect it to respond unless you have put it in stress in training.
"With the 350ms I can get three out of them. They can run them fast and take 5min off and do another. Cutting the rest is the way to progress. Michael tried 3min recovery once and it got to him more than anything."
8. USING 300m RUNS
While 300m have limitations in terms of conditioning for a 400m race Clyde uses them for other purposes: "The 350m is not done each week. We also do 300ms - it is not as good for conditioning but it is not that 300m can't help at 400m. I call them event 300m, they go through in 28sec and 300m in 40sec. They have got to run faster in the third 100m.
"After 50m nothing is going to happen to your body that can hurt you. Whether you run 7/8sec or 9/10sec nothing much different happens to the body. Someone that gets out hard for 50m then gets their breath and relaxes, will always be better than someone who comes out slow and has to get hard to hit the time for the first 100m.
"The second biggest mistake 400m runners make is not going out hard enough.”
Clyde broke off to tell us the biggest mistake made by 400m runners: " There is no bench to take a rest on in lane 9, so don't go out too fast. If you are slow at 200m you have got time to make it up. If you are too fast you have got a problem.”
Then it was back to the Event 300ms: "In the session they run 50m hard then back off for 150m then back on to get the 7sec beeper. Then with 28sec at 200m they start to use their arms a bit more so they are 2sec faster than the beeper at 300m.”
This simulates 400m running.
9. THE FOUR PS & STRIDE LENGTH
The four Ps
Clyde has a simple way of remembering the key points of 400m racing: "There are four Ps of 400m running: Push - the first 50m. Pace - 200m at target time. Position - the race starts at 200m so move into position. Then Pray – there’s no more that can be done so pray that you keep technique and drive through the line.”
One thing many people have noted about Michael Johnson was his distinct stride. Clyde spoke about the key principles of 400m technique.
He said: "Don't try to overstride and try to get to the finish line too quickly. There is not a big jump at 300m. The biggest strides are taken by the 100m runners. Distance runners take shorter strides - shorter strides are more efficient.
"You need to get your footstrike right. It needs to be under your centre of gravity. It won't be too far back as you will fall over if it is.”
So Clyde said try to pull your footstrike back – if you end up on your nose it is too far back! That is not the same as removing all knee lift though – it’s that which allows you ‘time’ to get your foot down rather than it hitting the ground in front of you.
"One thing Michael could do different to other sprinters was his recovery leg came through quicker than any of the others. If your foot is hitting too far forward it is hitting the brake.”