A 200-meter race requires a high degree of speed, power and strength. Typically taking about 20 seconds for advanced runners, Olympic-level athletes can run this race in under 20 seconds. A 200-meter sprint is fueled almost entirely by the anaerobic system, through a series of metabolic reactions that provide energy without the need for oxygen. Training for a 200-meter race should involve workouts that mimic the actual event.
The principle of specificity, which suggests that physical training is optimized when it matches competitive needs, requires that speed training mimic the skills and abilities required to compete in a particular event. Therefore, you can improve your speed by performing maximal sprints of 20 to 25 seconds. For example, a 200-meter sprint workout may include repeated bouts of 20 seconds at maximum intensity, followed by periods of complete rest.
Speed is highly dependent on muscular strength, so weight training can help. Improve power needed to increase 200-meter running performance by incorporating a weightlifting routine that focuses on major muscle groups in the legs. Exercises that improve running power in the legs include plyomterics and Olympic-style lifts such as power cleans and snatches. Plyometrics involve repeated bouts of jumps and bounds that capitalize on the muscle's natural stretch-shortening cycle, a phenomenon in which the muscle is first stretched, followed by a heightened muscular contraction.
Technique is also essential to improving 200-meter sprint performance. You can improve your sprint technique by obtaining an optimal balance between stride length and frequency, according to the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Elite athletes achieve their maximum stride length at about 45 meters after the start, while maximum frequency occurs about 25 meters after the start. Have a partner or coach video your sprints to help you decrease the distance required to achieve these peak numbers.
You can use a number of technical cues to improve your running stride characteristics. At the start, make sure your body weight is evenly distributed in a medium heel-to-toe position. Every athlete has a unique stride length-to-frequency ratio based on body type, but make sure to work on decreasing the time it takes to achieve this ratio, and to maintain it through the finish. Finally, you can minimize the braking action that slows running speed by quieting the upper body and rotating the arms in a front-to-back pattern and not across the body.
Assistance and Resistance
Utilize sprint assistance devices to improve your speed. This technique involves using gravity or other means to increase stride frequency. Perform running workouts downhill or with the wind at your back to accomplish this training goal.
Utilize resistance to improve sport-specific power. This technique involves running uphill, with the wind in your face, or with a weighted vest to promote an applied overload effect. The main goal of this training method is to improve explosive strength without altering running mechanics, according to the NSCA.
Training for a 200-meter sprint should vary considerably throughout the year, from a pattern of general speed and strength training in the off-season to specific race preparation in the competitive season.
For example, a pre-season workout may consist of a 30-minute warm up, 6 x 200 meters focusing on technique and a long cool down.
During the pre-competitive season, or about one to two months before a major competition, training should become more focused. A workout may consist of a 30-minute warm up, 3 x 150-meter buildups in which you start slow and increase your rate through the finish and 6 x 200-meter time trials.
A workout during the competitive phase, or one to four weeks prior to competition, should be highly specific. An example workout may include a 30-minute warm up, and "fly 40s," in which the runner performs a maximum start off the blocks for about five seconds, or 40 meters, and then transitions into an easy glide. Perform these workouts in work-to-rest intervals of between 1:3 and 1:5, e.g., 30 seconds of work followed by 90 to 150 seconds of rest.