Biomechanics & Lane Selection
The inside lane, lane one, is the dread of all 200m and 400m runners. It is considered a disadvantage as the turns are very tight. Compared to running down the straight, curve running requires a different technique - you need to change your stride and expend a lot more energy.
Runners must adjust their stride as they enter the curve to resist the tendency to keep going straight. This is done by leaning in towards the curve and pushing outwards on the track with their legs, effectively shifting their center of gravity towards the center of the track.
The tighter the curve, the more leaning is required, and the more energy that is spent adjusting the body, leaving less energy to direct towards going faster.
One study by American physicists calculated that an athlete who runs 19.72 seconds in lane one, is equivalent of a time of 19.60 seconds in lane eight. This difference could be quite significant and may mean the difference between winning and being out of a place.