Get Faster Using Three Easy Steps By Mark Strasser M.S. CSCS of CriticalBench.com
Proper technique is fundamental in performance, and poor technique is actually a limiting factor in most athletes' speed development. Good technique will allow a runner to move his or her limbs quickly and safely. Poor technique will result in poor movement efficiency, braking forces, and overloading of certain muscles and joints that could lead to injuries. Technique is the most trainable and essential component in sprinting.
Learning the basics in techniques is key when training to increase speed. The winning philosophy is to teach your body how to move before you are taught to move fast. Learning progressions will use specific cues that will be demonstrated using examples of world-class sprinters, charts, and easy to remember commands. We will teach the body how to explode before we teach the body how to perform sprints for a prolonged time (wind sprints). Practice does not make you perfect, perfect practice makes you perfect.
What order you do things in is as important as what you do. Technique work is done before full speed explosion work for a reason- you have to know how to do something (correct running) before you do it. Perfecting your sprint technique will help you move more economically with less effort.
To perfect your technique I have first broken down the running form into the basics, then into running mechanics using a list of important cues, and finally into real life examples using pictures of sprinters. Use these cues and pictures to get a full understanding of how your running form should look and feel. You will later use drills to enhance and perfect these techniques in your pursuit of becoming a speed machine.
The fundamentals of the running form can be broken down into its most simple form:
1) Head Up (Stand Tall)
2) Knees Up
3) Toes Up.
Except for the acceleration phase, it is critical that the body assumes an erect position when running. The lead foot will normally land under the COM (Center Of Mass) of the body. When leaning forward, COM will not be directly above the hips, causing the lead foot to land in front of the hips. When this happens, there is a slight breaking action every time that the foot lands.
"Stand Tall with the Head Up!"
2. FOOT ACTION:
When viewed from the side, the path of the foot should be circular and not elliptical. When the foot leaves the ground, it should be brought up quickly to the butt, forward past the opposing knee, and back to the ground. When the heel is in it's highest position, contacting or near the butt, the thigh should be parallel to the running surface and not pointed toward the ground. As the dorsi-flexed foot contacts the ground, it should be moving backwards, with a "negative foot speed"*. Shortening the time required to complete this cycle by getting the foot off the ground more quickly and then getting back on the ground as fast as possible will increase running speed.
The key to all muscular activity is the recruitment of the proper muscles at the right time. This is doubly true in the development of running speed and dorsi-flexion is the key to this. Dorsi-flexion of the foot (pulling the toes/foot up towards the shin) recruits the calf (gastrocnemius) muscle into the running action. When the foot lands in the dorsi-flexed position, the calf muscle can be contracted, helping to propel the body forward by pushing backward on the running surface. This will move the foot off the ground more quickly. Immediately dorsi-flexing the foot as soon as it leaves the ground will allow the foot/leg to be more quickly pulled through the recovery phase.
*Negative Foot Speed- The ability to create a negative foot speed (foot moving backwards at running surface contact time) is the critical characteristic that most often separates the winners from the 2nd place finishers. By doing this, the runner pulls the running surface backwards while propelling the body forward. If the foot is not moving backward as fast as the COM is moving forward, a braking action will occur on every stride.
About the Author
This is an excerpt taken from a chapter in the ebook: "The Critical Speed Manual". The ebook was written by Mark Strasser M.S. CSCS, a professional strength and conditioning coach.
To view more information or purchase the book, visit this page.