200 Meter Dash Tips
The 200-meter dash is not a sprint, yet is not long enough to be a middle distance event. The 200-meter race begins on a turn, and runners must stay in their assigned lane throughout the race. Once the official fires the starting gun, the athletes accelerate quickly to top speed. However, 200 meters is too far to hold a full-out sprint, so strategy is an important part of a successful race.
Tempo often is the difference between winning and losing. The human body is not capable of maintaining an all-out effort for 200 meters, so you must think about a race tempo. You might want to negative-split the race, meaning you run the second half of the race faster than the first half. However, it takes practice to execute this pacing strategy during the race.
Once in the starting blocks, assume a comfortable four-point stance, with most of the pressure on your toes. With your fingers at the line, lean slightly forward. When the gun sounds, use the airplane technique to accelerate to your top speed. With this technique, you raise your upper torso and head slowly until you are fully upright; imagine a plane rising from the runway on its way skyward. Drive your arms and hands throughout the race, but especially in the start phase of the race.
A large portion, roughly half, of the 200-meter dash takes place in the curve or turn. To be successful at running the curve, move your left arm less, and counterbalance by the movement of your right arm, thus using the momentum to assist in running the curve aggressively. Keep your eyes focused on the point in the turn where you want to go, and your body will follow naturally. Lean slightly into the curve with your left shoulder, and lean your head slightly in the opposite direction.
Latif Thomas, an experienced 200-meter runner, coach and owner of Athletes' Acceleration, breaks the race down into four segments. Run segment one, which is the start through the first 40 meters, at maximum effort. Run a comfortable but quick pace in segment two, from 40 meters through 110 meters. Accelerate quickly to your top speed through the third segment, from 110 meters through 140 meters. Relax, maintaining your top speed in the final segment, from 140 meters through the finish. Focus on relaxation throughout the race, but especially in the final segment
Gregg Seltzer is a freelance writer and photographer based in Chino, Calif. He brings a professional approach to each new project, specializing in general subjects and health and fitness issues.