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Practice in the blocks to succeed in the 200.
The 200 meters does not quite carry the heft of the 100 meters, since the 100 is widely used to assign the title of "world's fastest human." It is nevertheless one of the glory events of track and field. Its overwhelming requirement is basic speed. Yet a healthy injection of strength helps separate 200-meter kings and queens from pure dash specialists. Talent alone isn't enough; power development and technique are major contributors to success.
Seasonal Breakdown of Training
Training for the 200 should follow a systematic plan broken down into phases within a pre-competitive and competitive season. Brian MacKenzie, a coach with UK Athletics, notes that you spend several weeks building your fitness, then take another week to rest, recover, and adjust the training program as needed. You repeat this four-week cycle throughout the season. He adds that to properly develop the physiological energy systems to maximize your potential in the 200 -- which takes most people anywhere between 20 and 35 seconds to finish, depending on your age and ability -- you should do between 300 and 2,400 meters of fast running per training session.
Clyde Hart, a longtime coach at Baylor University who has guided numerous sprinters to Olympic gold medals, says that "strength is synonymous with speed" and that a true 200-meter specialist can't get away with bolting through the 100 in top gear and trying to hang on. That is, you need to do some overdistance work so you can maintain your top 200-meter speed throughout the race and tolerate the stress of running multiple heats. For this, workouts such as 16 times 200 meters or even four times 600 meters at about 50 percent slower than all-out are ideal, especially in the pre-competitive season.
Increasing your maximum velocity is obviously the primary goal of training for any sprint event. In the 200, Hart says, you reach top speed by about 50 or 60 meters and then settle into a relaxed rhythm. Therefore, practice accelerating to top speed by doing workouts such as six to 10 times 50 meters. Since the first 100 meters of the 200-meter dash are run on a curve, practice accelerating on the curve. Work on hugging the inside of your lane just as you will in your races, as this incrementally reduces the total distance you run.
Technique and Power Workouts
Sprinting alone isn't enough to make you a top sprinter. If you don't learn to make optimal use of starting blocks, you will be hindered from the start of your races. So when you practice accelerating, do so with the starting blocks under the guidance of a knowledgeable coach. In addition, strength training -- not only weights or weight machines but dynamic stretching exercises and various drills -- is necessary for you to develop the flexibility and muscular "explosiveness" that contribute to both accelerating to top speed more quickly and maintaining that speed through the finish line.