Athletics | Viljami Kaasalainen wants to beat the 50-year-old Finnish record, even though the transition to 400 meters has not been painless: “On bad days, I have regretted this 400-meter project”


in Jyväskylä the MM rally that is being driven has driven the general athletes to evacuate the Harju field, which is used by VIP guests during the race.

Viljami from Kaasalai it doesn’t hurt much, because the Kampus field in the Jyväskylä university area, which serves as a backup field, offers a scenic alternative for running training.

Although the track is hard and worn; it has seen its best days.

“I’ve trained on this field quite a lot before,” says Kaasalainen.

At the end of July, Kaasalainen ran the best Finnish time in 31 years in 400 meters at Harju, 46.54. Has been running faster lately Mikael Söderman in 1991 (45.86).

The Jyväskylä gp was rare because three Finns pushed for their records and less than 47 seconds.

“The Jyväskylä run was the first one a little over there. The beginning of the season was flat and remained in the teeth. I thought this can’t be like this. I think a lot about how to make running better,” says Kaasalainen.

On Saturday night, he will aim for his first Finnish championship in the track circuit, where he moved two years ago. In 2020, he won the SM gold in 100 meters.

Compatriot and coach Antti Meron the goal is to run under 400 meters Markku Kukkoahon Finnish record 45.49. The project is long-term, but the first 47-second undershot shows that the direction is right.

Kukkoaho ran SE in the Olympic Games in Munich in 1972, 50 years ago.

“Viljami’s training has been very successful over the past year. Spring was particularly good. Learning a relaxed pace distribution has been one key. You learn that, and it’s practice,” says Mero.

Coach Antti Mero and Viljami Kaasalainen are doing long-term work, when the former 100 meter runner is turned into a 400 meter runner.

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Kaasalainen has learned that 400 meters is partly also a tactical run. Mero mentioned that the right speed distribution is the key to happiness on the journey.

“I think you can talk a lot about tactics. I’ve run quite a few different races this summer and ended up with almost the same finishing time, even though the methods have been different,” says Kaasalainen.

Apart from his record time, all of Kaasalainen’s other runs have been in the time range of 47.34–47.84 seconds.

Track tour can run with many tactics. One of the most used is the so-called four-peen tactic, which supports the words of the English language: push, pace, position and pray.

When taken to the track, they mean that the runner starts hard, then sets a pace for himself, runs in a good position and gives his all at the finish line, i.e. pray.

“I don’t really sign those. I think it’s a bit of propaganda when they say a really hard start and then keep up the pace. When you look at the split times of the world’s top athletes, they go through the first 50 meters quite calmly,” says Kaasalainen.

“The last stage i pray I sign one hundred percent. Even though I’m not a believer, we’re pretty close to that (praying). In my record run, I was still strong at the end. The last hundred came harder than ever.”

Kaasalainen’s next ghost limit of 46 seconds is 54 hundredths away. They are long hundredths.

“My speed is so good that there is no trick and nothing takes a decent chunk out of the time. I can’t say whether it will be successful already this season.”

Coach Mero has done all kinds of tests on his protector. All of Kaasalainen’s test results have continued to improve.

And what’s the most important. The speed characteristics have been preserved, although according to the old coaching wisdom, Endurance training eats up speed.

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“The project has progressed according to the script, one second and one year. Time will tell how the next second falls. It is possible to break Kukkoaho’s Finnish record,” says Mero.

Before his retirement, Mero worked for twelve years as a professor of exercise physiology at the University of Jyväskylä. He knows the secrets of the 400 meter race from more than 40 years as a rower, coach and researcher.

In his retirement days, he has started running hurdles again, now 300 meter hurdles.

Kaasalainen would still like to run 100 meters, which he thinks he will run in 10.30 seconds or faster. His 100 record is 10.34, which he ran two years ago in Turku.

“I bet that now a hundred would be even better for me. A strong run from there would come to the former model. The speed is at a good level.”

“One piece at a time. At 400 meters, it can be a big chunk at a time off the record,” says Viljami Kaasalainen.

Countryman has also registered for the 200 meters in the Kaleva Games, the heats of which will be run on Sunday during the day.

“Nelonen’s gold is the only one I’m looking for. Gold is not the most important thing either. I want as hard a time as possible this year. Running second is fun and madness. You can’t run it as hard as you could with fresh legs.”

This season, Kaasalainen has run two 200 meter races. At the beginning of June, he ran his record of 20.93 in Espoo.

“The two hundred went really well, and realistically it could have even qualified for the European Championship. However, it would have required that a little of the fourth (400 meters) project would have been sacrificed for the second race. We decided that 400 meters is the main distance. I’ve known for many months that I won’t make it to the European Championships, yet,” Kaasalainen admits.

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Finland is sending a team of almost 70 athletes to the European Championships starting on August 15 in Munich. The male sprinters are included Samuli Samuelsson at 100 meters and Samuel Purola at 200 meters.

Have you ever regretted moving to 400 meters?

“On bad days, this 400-meter project has been regretted. From the beginning of the summer I wanted the same mediocre times in 400 meters, but in 200 meters I ran my record. At that point I wondered if this was completely stupid, but now I don’t regret it at all. Credit is in the system. It took time to get to a good time in the fours as well.”

Mere running does not live for the people of Kaasa yet, even though the sports shirt is decorated with a new sponsor. The bachelor of business sciences works part-time in the information technology and financial project of the social and health services of Etelä-Savo.

“Rent and food have to be paid for with something, even though new logos have become very popular. Sport is merit plus minus zero.”

HS has followed Kaasalainen’s training as a 400 meter runner.

Read more: From sprinter to quarter miler

Read more: What makes a person fast? The fastest man in Finland, Viljami Kaasalainen, would catch up with the moped, but the secret to winning the hundred meters is not just top speed. Durability is also needed.

The men’s 400 meter final will be run at the Kaleva Games on Saturday at 19:45.

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