How to Run the 200 Meter Dash

200m Track Workout


Hey everybody.  Latif Thomas here and welcome back to another addition of Monday mail bag.  Today it's sort of in honor of the U.S. track and field national championship yesterday.  I'm going to ask your questions.  Actually a question I get pretty frequently and the two part question was sent to me, but I'm gonna answer the first part of it today.  That question is how do you teach your athletes to run the 200 and how do you train for it?  Well, if you want more information how to train for the 200 and all the steps that are involved in that process, I suggest you click on the link below and sign up to receive my program design videos that I'm offering to you for free. 

But today I want to answer specifically in terms of race modeling, in terms of how you actually give your athletes a race strategy in a meet because I find both from my experience particularly at the high school level and talking to so many coaches, parents, athletes that most athletes don't actually have a race strategy so one common mistake that young sprinters make in running the 200 is they just run that whole thing all out.  They race to the 100 meter mark and wonder why they pooh the bed at the end of the race.  You can't run a 200 like that.  That's not a successful way to run a 200. 

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There are two ways generally that I teach athletes to run the 200.  There's a beginner way and an advanced way for lack of a better term.  The beginner way is what I usually do to have my younger, less experienced athletes run it and weaker athletes because they can't handle the more advanced way.  That's very simple.  Come out of blocks and we drive hard like the first 40 meters.  We call that first 40 meters or so, we call free energy.  What that means is you can go all out for that first 40 meters because it's not going to come back and catch up to you at the end of the race.  Why is that?  Very quickly, your muscle cells have about give or take four to six seconds of ATP and after that amount of time, you're going to switch energy systems and it's going to become more lactic acid issue.  That's an extremely simple explanation for our terms. 

But for our purposes what you need to know is the first 40 meters or first 40 seconds are free energy.  So beginner advanced, we're going all out for that first 40 meters.  The beginner way once we hit 40 meters we want to have athletes go into their flow.  Now this is going to be sort of a hot mess for younger athletes that don't know how to float but we just have to sort of throw them into the fire and teach them how to do it.  We've got them floating for 40 to 110 meters.  110 meters is the end of the four by one exchange on the last exchange.  So for 40 to 110 we're gonna float.  So what that means again for those of you that aren't doing max velocity work, aren't teaching athletes how to float is we're just gonna put it on cruise control around the turn.  Not taking our foot off the gas.  Not continuing to try to accelerate.  Just cruising around the turn to 110.  Once they hit 110‑meters, they come all the way around the turn, we're gonna pick it back up, try to run hips tall, step overdrive down, big arms, and really try to attack all the way through. 

That's 40 to 110 meter mark for your inexperienced runners is important they're not trying to go all out like crazy no matter what's going on around them.  They have to stay calm and wait for the 110 meter mark before they try to accelerate.  Remember of course, once they come around that turn, everybody is slowing down.  The winner of the race is gonna be the sprinter that slows down the slowest.  We're trying to put our athletes with this way running the 200 in the position to slow down the slowest because they didn't waste all their energy going all out on the first turn.  That's just not a successful way to run the 200.  So that's how I teach my beginner sprinters to do it.  I think it's a pretty easy way to learn but again of course, we have to be teaching athletes all these different things.  So generally when we're talking about later on in the season, I'll put a cone at 40‑meters and put up a cone at 110 and just run some work outs around the turn to fix that, but I'll show you a video in a sec.  The second way I have athletes run the 200, this is more of an advanced way and this is really the preferred way for most 200‑meter runners once they've been running for a little wile and they get a little bit of experience.  Same start put the cone at 40‑meters.  Going hard to 40‑meters but instead of slowing it from 40 meters to 110, I'm gonna put a cone at 85‑meters.  That's in between the fly zone and the beginning of the exchange zone on the last hand off four by one. 

We go hard from 0 to 40, from 40 to about 85, that's gonna be our float.  That's gonna be our break.  For your advanced sprinters that's gonna run it this way because we're gonna be spending a greater percentage of the race running at top intensity, it's really important that your athletes know how to float.  If you're not doing again max velocity work, fly 20s, 30s, 40s, teaching that float as part of your short to long form as part of your acceleration, I strongly recommend that you learn how to do that or else none of this is gonna make sense.  Zero to 40 for your advanced sprinters.  Zero to 40 all out.  Forty to 85 you want to float.  From 85‑meters to about 110‑meters we're gonna pick it back up.  Our goal here is to do what's called sling short the turn.  We want to come around that turn hard and use force to kind of slingshot us off the turn and shoot us off the turn and down the straight away to win.  Hard to 40, float 40 to 85, then when we hit 85 we want to reaccelerate staying tight on the inside laying around the turn opening up hard on the turn then come off the turn, then we want to come off the turn, hips tall, getting get lifts, chin up, chest up, good posture, step it over drive and down really working the arms so like 110, 120. 

We get ourselves in a good position to be tall around the turn then that last 80 meters we're just trying to maintain good technique and finish.  So those are the two ways I have athletes run a 200.  That's how I suggest you do it.  You can't just have an athlete out there and say good luck.  Go run 200 with no plan.  You can't do that for any race.  You can't do that for a 55 let alone a 200 in the long beginning of a sprint races.  200, 300, 400, 400 hurdles.  More important is your athletes have a race plan.  You can take two athletes with the same skill, write carbon copies of each other, one with no race plan, one with a race plan.  The athlete with the race plan is going to run faster time.  So what I want to do now is show you just a quick video of one of my favorite workouts to do.  This is a main competitive phase workout that I'll have my 200‑meter runners do as they're getting ready for their major championship meet so generally I start doing this workout right before our lead championship.  It's end of season.  We're starting to peak.  It's pretty much full intensity, full rest, and so you'll see this athlete.  She's running some 110s. 

We'll do this specific rep,  we'll probably go two or three times to 40 meters just working on our start.  Getting athletes to feel what it feels like to run that 40‑meters before they go into their float.  You'll see here in the work out there's a comb there but in a meet, it's not there so athletes have to get use today feeling how many steps or how long they have to drive for before they hit 40‑meters so they can naturally go into their float on their own and not start it too late or start it too early.  So we'll take a quick look at this video.  This athlete is a school record holder at 200‑meters and anker of our state new England four by one team and also a member of our state champion four by 200 meter team as well.  You can just see what kind of workout that we like to do with our phase, and this is a workout that my 200 meter runners really love.  When I say hey, what do you guys want to do today?  This is the kind of workout they request to do.  Let's take a look at that video.  I'm gonna play it at regular speed then I'm gonna play it in slow motion so you can see what it looks like.  Then of course all comments are welcome.  Okay, so let's watch this in full speed and see the athlete come out of blocks.  Here she comes out of 40.  She doesn't have a great start.  That's pretty obvious.  She's working hard to 40 meters. 

Now, she's floating if you know what you're looking at.  You can see her relaxed here.  Getting ready to come off the turn.  Hits the 85 meter mark then she starts to dig again pushing around the turn sling shotting the turn and that's our 110.  Now, let's watch it again in slow motion so we can look at it a little more specifically.  So obviously not the greatest start in the world.  She pops straight up but she's long legged and not physically strong.  You want to have your athletes grind hard to 40 meters and get a feel for what that feels like.  At this point cruise control.  Not trying to get faster.  Not taking the foot off the grass.  You can see them slow down here.  You can see their shoulders come behind their hips.  She's starting to get a little bit too loose here but now you can see stride rate picks up a little bit.  She comes off the turn and working it a little bit harder.  She's grinding it coming through.  That's 110 so here at the 120 mark she shuts it down.  Run that a few times and it's a great workout getting ready. 


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