5 Different 6x200m Workouts

Every 400 meter runner loves running 200 meters.  It’s only half the distance.

And I am sure other Coaches around the world have their favorite depending on the time of year (macrocycle), day of the week (microcycle), facilities, etc.

Enjoy!  (or maybe not! these hurt!)

1. Cathy Freeman’s 6x200m workout

In a great interview with Peter Fortune by Mike Hurst, Peter reveals some of the workouts and situations leading up to her 400m Gold medal victory at the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

One of them was a 6x200m at “coming home speed”, which is the speed of your second 200m in a 400m.

Start with 5 minutes rest between runs, and work your way down to 1 minute rest.

For example, if your 200m splits are 23 and 25, then 25 seconds is your pace for this workout.  The first one or two will be easy, obviously, but your lungs will be on fire as the recovery gets shorter.

Cathy Freeman

2. Tom Tellez 6×200 Workout

Special thanks to Pierre-Jean Vazel for this rare find on YouTube.  In the video, we see Carl Lewis and Mike Marsh doing a classic 6x200m workout in about 28 seconds (circa 1992 or 1993).  You don’t see the the recovery periods, as that are edited from the video, but it’s 90 seconds.

Check their form throughout each of the runs.

Kids, don’t try to attempt this at home, at least not at that pace.  Remember, these guys have 200m PB’s in 19.7 so they are running them at 70% speed.

I can do this exact workout today but if I did, I assure you I am running them close to medium intensity (~85%) and lactic acid would set in at the 4th run! (more on this later).  That’s not the point of this workout.

The starting point would be 200 meters in about 70-75% speed (21+ 200m sprinter would do them 70-75% or about 28-30 seconds, depending on the conditioning of the athlete).  This tempo workout was meant to provide “aerobic conditioning” to “get through the rounds”, among other things.

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Here is the full 6 week cycle:

  1. 6×200, 29 seconds, 90 sec recovery
  2. 6×200, 29 seconds, 75 sec recovery
  3. 6×200, 29 seconds, 60 sec recovery
  4. 5×200, 28 seconds, 90 sec recovery
  5. 5×200, 28 seconds, 75 sec recovery
  6. 5×200, 28 seconds, 60 sec recovery

The above workout time are intended for 200 meter sprinters with a PB of 20-21 seconds!

The beauty of this workout is that it’s over very quick! Your lungs may be on fire afterward, but you’ll recover soon enough. If you have a group of athletes, rotate who takes the lead (like in the video, you see Lewis and Marsh alternating lead).

The secret is running relaxed and efficient. .. arm action, knee lift, frontside mechanics, backside mechanics, triple extension, the whole 9 yards.

3. Clyde Hart 8×200 Workout

(okay, I am cheating here as it’s 8, not 6 reps, but it is still 200m!)

For men,
8 x 200m in 28 seconds with a short recovery.
as the season progresses, then…

7 x 200m in 27 seconds, but with a bit more recovery.
then…

6 x 200m in 26 seconds with even more recovery.

Do you see a pattern here?

For more info on this workout, see the article Clyde Hart’s Monday 200 meter Repeats.

For women, note the times are adjusted accordingly by adding 3 seconds.  Again, this is another one of Clyde Hart’s Train SLOWER to get FASTER philosophies.

We used to do 5 or 6 x 200m in 25 seconds in our training flats (no spikes) by the spring time (medium intensity workout), walking 200m back to the starting line. The second to last one always “hurt like hell”, but the last one seems to be the fastest and most relaxed despite the lactic  acid acidosis in our legs and butt.

And remember, no racing in workouts! (This concept is hard to teach to youngsters, which is why I do my 2 x 325m or 2 x 40 seconds workout individually like a time trial)

4. The Descending 6×200 meters

This is a single 6×200 workout where each interval and recovery are as follows:

  1. 29 seconds, 75 sec recovery
  2. 29 seconds, 60 sec recovery
  3. 29 seconds, 45 sec recovery
  4. 29 seconds, 30 sec recovery
  5. 29 seconds, 15 sec recovery
  6. 29 seconds, puke

As you can see, this workout is a slight variation to my turnaround or greyhound workouts, aka tempo workouts where you run 100 meters on a grass surface, slow down, stop, turn around, walk to the line, and run another 100 meters.  Rinse and repeat.  If you want to melt excess fat, or add conditioning, add 10 pushups on one end, and 10 sit-ups on the other end.

This workout also resembles the Tom Tellez 6x200m workout above.

Like losing weight, the secret is the INTENSITY.

My only caveat would be seeing coaches increase the speed of the 200 meter times and this ends up being a medium intensity butt-locking lactic workout.  It depends on your overall training philosophy of long to short vs short to long.  Garbage can (or puke bags) required.  Some may even quit track if performed early in the season.

If you really want to train “aerobic conditioning” to get through the rounds, that’s one thing, but NOT AT THE EXPENSE OF YOUR OTHER ENERGY SYSTEMS.  Don’t tax your speed and CNS or overall recovery if you kill your athletes with too much medium intensity training with high mileage.   The recovery demands are just too high.  Low intensity training should be at 65-75% of top speed.

So if you are going to attempt this workout for a 22 second 200m sprinter, I would start at 33-34 seconds (i.e. 22 x 0.65) but no faster than 29-30 seconds (i.e. 22 x 0.75).  I would also do these on a grass surface, either as a long straightaway, or inside Lane 1 of a track if possible.

5. Clyde Hart’s Backwards J’s 200 meter workouts

When you do 200 meters in workouts, where do you start?

I wrote about 400 Meter Training Workouts – the Descending 6×200 meters as well as Clyde Hart’s Split 400 meter Workout.

Usually, they start across the field at the 200m start line, and finish at the regular finish line.

On windy days, you can start at the finish line, and end at the 200m start line.  It’s still a curve-straight combo.

(SIDENOTE: speaking of wind, some coaches prefer having the wind at your back whenever possible.  This helps you attain top speed faster and more efficiently.  This is MY preference.  Other coaches, especially high school coaches, have them run INTO the wind whenever possible for mental toughness, except for time trials.  This way, on race day, if it’s windy in your face, no worries, it’s just like practice Coach!  Like the old cliché, your mileage may vary.)

But we all agree we start on the curve followed by a straight, just like a real race.

Clyde Hart does something unusual, and that is start from the 350 meter mark to the 150 meter mark.  It’s still half a lap, just not the half that you are used to.  It is still 200 meters and resembles a reverse “C” or a backwards “J”.  It ends up being a 50m-100m-50m curve-straight-curve combo.

If you really want to be super accurate, you could use 1st hurdle to 7th hurdle, which would be 45m to 255m,  or 210m total.  Then just mark off 10 meters using a measuring wheel or tape measure..

Or just run halfway on the curve and use the field goal posts as your guide.  If you have a Freelap, it’s very easy to measure splits.

Anyway you slice it, it’s still 200 meters.

The Pros and Cons

It does teach you to run curve-straight-curve…

It does teach you to mentally “pick it up” as you approach the 2nd curve (see Clyde Hart’s Event 300 meter workouts)

It does break up the mental programming of 200 meter sprinters with just the curve and straight.

For those who have tried this, please post your comments below.  Sometimes you have to think out of the box.  In this case, out of the oval.

  • Have used the following routine sparingly over the years, mainly as a break through session when competitive and training performances have become stagnant. Depending on the talent of the athlete and relative experience and youth the following has provided some excellent outcomes in almost every time it has been applied. The coach and athlete will need to understand that in completing this set the athlete’s capilaries will be shot to pieces and will take about three to four days to achieve a full recovery and resume normal training..
    250m 5min recovery
    250m 4min recovery
    250m 3 min recovery
    250m 2 min recovery
    250m 1min recovery
    Wouldn’t recommend this for any athlete with less than 90% fitness. Pace for each 250m will be approx 85-90% effort.