Yesterday’s video on How to Race the 200 meters was focused on execution on running the 200 meters. Curve running is another important aspect as half your races over 200 meters on the oval track are on the curve.
Should you treat curves the same as straightaways?
I’ll break this article down into several parts:
- indoor curves: banked vs non-banked
- outdoor curves
- starting on the curve
- approaching the curve (i.e. indoor 200, outdoor 300, 400)
- running the curve
- exiting the curve
(Recommended reading from the archives: Do Curves Matter? Indoor vs. Outdoor World Records)
Indoor curves: Banked vs non-Banked
It’s no secret you will run faster on a banked track compared to a flat track. The reason is the banked track helps keep the centripetal force preventing you from going to an outer lane, and therefore get DQ’ed. And that would be bad.
Ironically, my indoor PB for 200m was at a flat track at Dartmouth College, and not the 22 degree banked track at Sherbrooke University… that’s from a lack of indoor 200 on a banked track, as well as the overall hardness of the Dartmouth track. Being in a Canadian University, the focus was on 60 & 300 meters.
Obviously, the curvature is greater on the inside lane, as the outer lanes resemble closer to a straight line than the inside lanes. But when you think of it using physics and vectors, the curve is simply a series of 46 straight lines! (i.e. 46 strides in a 100 meters)
There’s no use bitching and complaining about a bad lane draw (unless you get Lane 1, then you can bitch and complain!) as they are all 200 meters. Several good 200m performances have run in Lane 8. And let’s not forget MJ 200m at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics from a “tight” Lane 3 and still ran 19.32 (and he stumbled, too). Imagine if he had Lane 6 and didn’t stumble?
Starting on the curve
I won’t go into detail about How to Set Up your Starting Blocks on the Curve, because that is covered in the Bud Winter re-release of “The Rocket Sprint Start” book which should be available next month.
Approaching the Curve & Running the Curve
My trick when I was running open races was dipping the shoulder to gradually lean into the curve.
But years later, I realized that the only adjustment you need to do is tilt your head with the chin pointing down a bit. Thus the hips and shoulders will follow. Your body will naturally lean into the curve. That’s it. Basta!
There is some merit when I say, “It’s all in the head”!
Out of the starting blocks, the first few steps are a straight line until the curve begins..
Going INTO the curve, as in a 300m or 400m outdoor, or 200 meter indoor, start the “lean” (i.e. the head tilt) a few meters back or about 1 or 2 strides before the curve starts.
In the picture above, take a look at Andrew Howe on the right. Note his body is leaning, with hips and shoulders in excellent running position. His head is nearly straight, but he is leaning. If you straighten him up (using Photoshop), what will you see? Yup, his head will be tilted with the chin slightly down.
SIDENOTE: don’t “burn the turn” on the 200m unless you have the speed endurance of Michael Johnson. (again, review my video on how to race the 200 meters)
Exiting the Curve
The final tip is don’t raise or straighten the head until you reach the straightaway. Straightforward advice, I assume with no pun intended.
So there you have it. I hope this clarifies a lot of confusion in curve running. Coupled with yesterday’s video, you should have everything you need to race a great 200m (assuming the fitness and training is there!)