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200 and 400 Meters

Running the Curve, Components of 400m Race

Warm-Up Team endurance race, circle dynamic stretch, building core strength, form activities
Skill Development 200-meter dash (strategy for the 200-meter dash, running the curve), 400-meter dash (strategy for the 400-meters, drills for the 400-meters)
Wrap-Up Game Box running
Cool Down Light jog, static stretching
Printable PDF of this session


Team Endurance Race (2-5 minutes)

You will need cones, a stopwatch, and a whistle for this warm-up activity. Use the cones to set up a rectangular track approximately 50 x 25 yards in size. Assemble runners into groups of 5-10 and station them at even intervals around the track. When you blow the whistle or give another signal, the students should start running. Tell them to stay in their groups and continue running until you tell them to stop. Students should try to keep an even speed and not pass or be passed by other groups.

Circle Dynamic Stretch (1-3 minutes)

Have students form a circle around you and lead them in dynamic stretches. See the Supplementary Session on Stretching for additional dynamic stretches drills.

Building Core Strength (10-15 minutes)

Have students form a circle around you and lead them in core strength exercises.

Refer to the Supplementary Topic on Muscular Strength and Endurance for appropriate activities and exercises.

Strategy for the 200-Meter Dash

To run or practice a 200-meter dash, break the event down into four sections for your students: Start Strong, Float Fast, Speed Up, Finish Strong.

  1. Start Strong: Begin sprinting from a crouched or standing start, giving an all-out effort (0-40 meters)
  2. Float Fast: Continue an all-out effort while focusing on breathing and relaxing the upper body (40-100 meters)
  3. Speed Up: Maintain form while driving the arms down and back and pushing hard off the ground (100-140 meters)
  4. Finish Strong: Finish the sprint, running through the line while relaxing the face muscles, shoulders, and hands (140-200 meters)

Runners practice this at training but only at 50- to 70-percent intensity. Runners should do this 6 to 8 times depending on numbers and ability levels.

Animal Run

Discuss and demonstrate various animals' relative speeds. For example, go over the difference between sprinting like a cheetah, and running as fast as a horse. Include animals that walk (sheep), jog (deer), run (horse), and sprint (cheetah). Call out a new animal every 10 to 30 seconds so your students can practice running at different speeds. Limit sprinting to 10 to 15 seconds at a time.

Running the Curve

Runners should lean inward and swing their outer arm slightly outwards when running the curve in the 200-meters.


You will need cones, a stopwatch, a measuring wheel/tape, and a whistle. Set up four cones (number them or use four different colors) in a horizontal line, each 10 yards apart, at a distance of 10-40 yard from the starting cone, depending on skill level.

In groups of two, runners begin at the starting cone and run straight ahead. When you call out a number or color, they will loop around that specific cone and return to the starting cone. Runners should loop around two or three cones before finishing their turn.

You can alter the activity by varying the radius of the curves, increasing speed, or delaying the announcement of the next selected curve.

Strategy for the 400-Meters

The first part of the 400-meter dash should be run aggressively, but not at an all-out sprint. Split the race into three parts.

  1. Accelerating near full speed for the first 50 meters
  2. For 150 meters you should run under a controlled deceleration. Focus on driving your arms and legs picking your knees up through the second turn
  3. Hold your form and finish strong over the last 100 meters.

Drills for the 400-Meters

Technique Strides

Students practice running 10-, 20-, 40-, and 80- meter intervals while counting their strides. Each runner should have three to five turns at each distance. You can introduce a little friendly competition by dividing runners into pairs or small groups.

High Knees

Students can do high knees in place 15 to 20 seconds. Tell them to maintain an upright body position while bringing the knee level with the hip and pulling the toe up towards the shin. Alternate legs quickly, while taking very small steps forward. Move arms in a coordinated fashion with legs as if running.

Butt Kicks

Students can do butt kicks in place for 15 to 20 seconds. Tell them to keep the back straight while moving forward slowly with quick, light leg movements that bring the heels toward the buttocks. Emphasize speed in completing the motion, not moving forward.

High Skips

Runners can practice power skipping at 10-, 20-, 40-meter intervals. Drive arms and legs upward in an exaggerated skipping motion. Bring the leg toward the chest while the opposite arm reaches up. Emphasize getting as far off the ground as possible.

Interval Training

Use cones to divide a track into nine sections. Have your runners jog, sprint, do high knees, and run in different sections. They can start out jogging and do short sprints and drills. Have them finish with an all-out sprint. To make the intervals more difficult, increase the distance and time spend on each section.

Wrap-up Game

Box Running

To play this game you will need cones and/or boundary markers, a stopwatch, and a measuring wheel. Use the cones to set up a rectangular track approximately 50 x 25 meters in size, with one cone in each corner. Divide runners into pairs and designate them Runner A and Runner B. Both runners stand together on the outside of the cones along one of the 50-meter sides. Runner A runs around the square outside the cones, tapping Runner B when they finish. Runner B will do the same so Runner A can run another loop. Depending on numbers and ability, it is suggested to have each runner do two to three laps each.

To make the game more difficult you can set up a larger track, have runners run in both directions, set a time limit for finishing a lap, and/or see who runs the most laps in a set amount of time.

Cool Down

Light Jog (2-5 minutes)

Lead the group on a light jog.

Static Stretching (3-5 minutes)

Have students form a circle around you and lead them in static stretches.

Please see the Supplementary Session on Stretching for additional stretches.

Youth and Schools

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