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Slouch over…you know…like you do when your mom is nagging you about your bad posture.   Take a deep breath.

Now, stand up straight and take a deep breath.  Obviously a lot easier, right?  Let’s apply that same knowledge to your running stride.

When you run slouched over, arms flailing, head bobbling, butt sticking out…you are wasting energy and adding time to the clock.  So much for a kick at the end, right?  No energy left.  It’s all been wasted on fluffy, inefficient movement.

Run straight up, arms pumping up and down, knees raising, butt tucked in, core activated, and head not moving…well, you run a lot darn faster and have energy left to kick it in.

Need further proof?  Watch an efficient sprinter run the 100.  Not a whole lot of wasted movement, there, because they don’t have time to waste on it.  Now, watch an average distance runner run the mile.  What happens on lap 3?  The head bob, the arm cross, the labored face…ugh…

Distance runners have more time to focus on the pain, but a lot of times spend less time on stride and form efficiency.  Why?  Isn’t it almost MORE important to train your body to save energy during a mile or a 5K race than a 100M?

I have an easy step to add to your workout to help you fix your stride.  Build.  Work.  Float.  They’re strides, but broken down to help you perfect your stride and enhance your kick.  I did them in high school and college, and they really helped me improve on both fronts.

The How To:

First, pick a distance.  Ideal would be 100 to 150 meters.  Find your marking points at the 50, 100, and 150 M markers.

Build.

The first 50 meters you are going to build speed.  Starting out like you would a race, not a gradual jog.  By the time you hit the 50 meter mark, you should be at your top speed.

Work.

The second 50 meters are run at top speed.  Put your head down, drive your arms, get on your toes, and run as fast as you can.  If it feels ridiculous, you’re most likely doing it right.  Pay attention to your arms, and how driving them forward in an efficient motion (waste level, not with your shoulders invading your ears or criss crossing them over your chest) very quickly helps lead your legs to pick up the pace.  Sprinting on your toes allows you to go farther faster, which is important for training your fast twitch muscles.  When you put your head down, don’t put it down so far you’re tripping over yourself.  Just adjust it enough to carry your momentum forward.

Don’t think about the distance your sprinting…it’s so small it’ll be over before you can freak out about it.  The goal here is a short burst of efficiency, so as not to lose form.  You can get your endurance speed from 400 and 200 workouts.  This is speedy speed development were working on, along with your form.  It’s a lot to think about, right?  So is a race.  Training yourself to have good form in an intense burst of speed will help maintain good form during your race.  Not to mention, the fast twitch muscles that you are activating during Build Work Floats will be ready to activate again at the end of your race.  Are you going to be able to finish your mile, 2mile, or 5K on your toes with your head down?  Uh, no, unless you completely spaced on the rest of your race and ran too slow.  It will, however, make your kick faster that it was, and it will start to make your overall pace seem more manageable.

Float. At the 100, you want to begin decelerating.  It’s call float because you don’t want to injure your legs coming to a stop too quickly after releasing all that speed.  Runner’s shins don’t need to undergo anymore unnecessary pounding.  So, float…for the whole last 50 meters.

After your done, take a full recovery and do 3 more.  Do them every day that you have a workout…or every day after form runs, but before your distance run.  You want to do them on fresh legs.

When you ‘slow down’ to run race pace, you won’t be on your toes or leaned forward with your head down.  But, hopefully, your arms will be pumping efficiently (an action that stems from a strong core), relaxing your head (no bobble-heads), extending your knees and butt tucked under.  When you get to the end, you’ll be able to drive your arms knowing that your legs are capable of following them in for a great kick.  With your core activated, shoulders down and head not bobbling around, you’ve put some energy in the bank for the end.  Ahhhh.  Doesn’t that feel better?  It’s like breathing easier.  Now, go PR.

Good luck, and happy strides!

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