THE 400m - FOR SPEEDY AND FIT KIDS|
Gold medalist, LaShawn Merritt, shares his experiences and tips with us in an exclusive interview. Thinking of running the 400 competitively? Read on to decide is this is the right event for you.
- Carol Goodrow
LaShawn Merritt, Twice Gold Medalist, 2008 Summer Olympics
Kids Running had the exciting job of interviewing LaShawn Merritt. We want to bring LaShawn's expertise to you, share his enthusiasm, and let you get to know a little about one of our Olympians. We hope that you enjoy the interview. If you do, please send a note and we will try to do more of the same.
KIDS RUNNING: What does it take to be successful in the 400m?
LASHAWN: You can't be afraid of pain. In an event of this type, once around the track, lactic acid will build up. You must be able to run with pain.
KIDS RUNNING: It sounds like this isn't an event for wimps (like me)!
KIDS RUNNING: Okay, let's suppose I'm a 10-year old kid and I've seen you run your event and I am INSPIRED! I want to go out into my backyard to train. What do I do?
LASHAWN: You can go out and sprint back and forth a bit and then do some backyard run/jogging laps. Mix it up! You need speed and endurance for the 400.
KIDS RUNNING: How about a game? Did you play games when you were a kid?
LASHAWN: I played a lot of tag and ran backyard relays - just the normal kind, but I have an idea for a tag game with a larger group. (Click for "5-IT Tag" by LaShawn).
KIDS RUNNING: Do you have one tip that you could give to a child who is already trained and ready to compete in the 400m?
Again, you need both speed and fitness. Make sure to train to race the 450m or 500m so that when you race you are fit to run the 400m. You need to overtrain a bit.
KIDS RUNNING: A little about your events? Do you have a gold medal?
LASHAWN: I have two. I won the gold medal in the 400m and our 4x4 relay team also won an Olympic gold medal.
The 4x4 Relay: There are 4 teammates on the team and each runs 1 lap (400m). I ran the first leg.
KIDS RUNNING: Do you have any words of inspiration for our youth?
LASHAWN: Set goals. Do what you want to do and give 110%. This is how you separate yourself from others in your training and schoolwork.
KIDS RUNNING: Disappointments? Did you ever have any or did you ever have to change your goals?
LASHAWN: I train hard so that I won't lose, but earlier on, I thought that I could only do the 100m and 200m. In my junior year in high school, I switched to the 400m at the advice of my coach. I had grown taller and my build was more suited to this event, but the clincher was when my coach told me, "Real men run the 400." (chuckle).
KIDS RUNNING: Do you have any healthy eating tips?
LASHAWN: Stay away from fried food. It'll clog your arteries. Hydrate a lot. Drink water. Water to an athlete is like oil to a car. Water lubricates your muscles.
By LaShawn Merritt, A Running Game just for KIDS RUNNING!
This is a great game for a bunch of kids or a running club. Make 5 kids taggers or "IT". They run around for 5 minutes tagging kids. When kids get tagged, they are out.
After all the kids are tagged, or after 5 minutes are up, another 5 kids become taggers or "IT". The play continues like this choosing 5 new taggers or "IT", every 5 minutes. This is a good game for speed and fun. It's best if everyone gets a chance to be "IT".
KIDS RUNNING: What are your future plans?
LASHAWN: I am going to put my gold medals aside for awhile and start working on new goals. I would like to win the World's . I'm also going to graduate from college with a degree in sports management. I have a lot of things to look forward to.
LaShawn gave a wonderful interview, very relaxed, confident, and personable. LaShawn goes to school in Virginia and enjoys speaking to groups about his athleticism and the Olympics.