Summer speed is often built on the track which means using the 400m surface to your advantage. However, if running fast for a full lap of the track doesn’t exactly put a smile on your face, know that running half as far is often just as good.
200m intervals — one half lap of a standard track — don’t get as much attention as the full 400s do, but can be just as beneficial and even more fun. Not only can they be run at a similar speed and intensity — think 5K pace or faster — but you can also run so many more given the short but frequent recovery periods in between. In addition to improving your speed and power, these type of workouts can also enhance your running economy, form and also help teach and perfect proper pacing.
To execute the workout, find your nearest local track. If that’s not an option, an open stretch of road or trail work just fine. As always, begin by warming up with some light jogging and dynamic stretches to prepare the body for running fast.
Run the 200s by accelerating to goal pace within the first 50m or so and then maintaining that speed until you reach the end. Slow yourself down in a controlled manner and then either walk or slow jog for another 200m before starting up the next interval.
Depending on your fitness and training, begin by running 8-10 x 200m intervals at a relatively fast pace, think 10K pace or faster. Over time, increase the number of intervals until you can complete 20-25 of them. The period of rest should always be the same and kept short; 200m is ideal. Always aim to run the intervals at the same speed to practice your pacing. Your first interval should be as fast as your last.
Finish your workout with a short cool down to jump-start the recovery process and be sure to take a few easy running days following the workout and before attempting another hard session.