Before you start running a 4X200 relay race, you're going to want to know how to learn how to run it. A 4X200 is a sprint relay, rather than distance, so form is just as important as training. Here is a list of the things you need to do when you're training to run a 4X200 relay race:
- Form. A 200 is 200 meters, half of a lap. It's a full-out sprint, but you have to be careful of the curve on the track. You will often hit a "wall" of wind when you turn the curve. Instead of slowing down, you have to push into it. For this reason, you have to keep your form tight. Keep your arms tight and use them to drive your body. Practice running 100 meter stretches to make sure your form is solid and you stay within your lane. Especially practice not moving your head.
- Lift Weights. Sprinting is often determined by upper body strength as much as lower body strength. You have to use every muscle to accelerate your body for the full 200 meters.
- Hand-Offs. Hand-offs are the crucial element to sprint relays, because you can lose precious seconds if you don't have a perfect hand-off. Practice your hand-offs with the relay partner who will be passing the baton to you and the one to whom you will be passing. In a traditional hand-off, you yell "Stick!" when you get close to your partner. He starts running with his hand behind him, you lift your arm up, and pass the baton. This is the most important thing to practice.
- 200 meter Repeats. You want to get a feel for your particular stretch of the 200 meters. Many sprinters end up underestimating the distance of their part in the 4X200 relay race. The only way to get your pace right is to run 200s over and over again.
- Acceleration. In relays especially, you are going from 0 to 100% in a single second. You want to learn the best ways to accelerate on curve tracks. Most people jog in place when their relay partner starts running. You also want to warm up before your race with a few well-paced sprints. Your body needs to be ready for the sudden burst of speed.
- You also want to invest in a pair of sprinting shoes. If you're running on a track, you will probably want to invest in shoes with spikes, which will help you accelerate.
A 4X200 relay race is a team race, so you have to make sure you know your partners very well. Many 4×200 relay race teams fail, simply because they haven't practiced their hand-offs. These happens even on the Olympic level. That's why it's a good idea to know how to run a 4X200 relay race before you jump into one.
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