Although you may have natural ability as a sprinter, unless you conduct very specific, focused training to enhance and increase your abilities, you may lose to a lesser runner who trained harder and smarter. Don't rest on nature's gift of speed if you want to achieve your highest goals as a sprinter. Following a good speed enhancing workout program with a balance of flexibility, agility, strength and power, and core training can take you to a higher level of sprinting.
To prepare for the sprint, United Kingdom Track and Field Coach Brian MacKenzie suggests using a sprinter's checklist to ensure you have all of the elements in place to run well. This checklist should include: Pre-race start, on your marks, set, take-off at gun sound, and the drive, stride and lift phases. All of these checklist phases involve proper positioning, movement and technique for every part of your body involved in moving forward as fast as possible.
An element of sprinting technique that is important to pay attention to, according to MacKenzie, is running tall -- your body should be erect with your back fully extended as you run on the balls of your feet. Stay relaxed as you sprint with easy, flowing movements, keeping your shoulders low and rhythmically moving your arms. Stay smooth and literally float over the track as you focus on complete forward movement -- your legs and feet should move as easily as a wheel rolling along. Drive your extended rear leg as you run with a high forward knee. Every foot strike should grab the track for traction just behind your body's center of gravity.
Downhill running is ideal to help increase your sprinting speed, according to MacKenzie. Run 30 to 60 meters down a hill with as much as a 15-degree angle and continue full speed for another 30 meters. Perform this drill for two to three sets of three to six repetitions. MacKenzie also says that plyometric training such as hops, bounds and jumps are effective in developing sprinter strength. Perform four sets of 10 bounds, with each set followed by a 20-meter stride out. Also execute four sets of 10 speed hops and follow with a stride out. Finally, perform four sets of four jumps from a small box focusing both on height and distance with each jump.
To become an effective sprinter, strength training is a must, according to Joseph Puleo and Dr. Patrick Milroy in their book, "Running Anatomy." Some specific weight workouts that target your upper leg muscles include the hip adductor machine, machine leg extension, machine lying hamstring curl, dumbbell lunge, machine incline leg press, bent-leg good morning with barbell, dumbbell Romanian deadlift and the squat. All of these weight movements work your quadriceps, hamstrings and gluteus maximus in the upper leg, with secondary benefits to lower leg muscles like the gastrocnemius and soleus. The exercises also benefit to your oblique core muscles.
- Brian Mac Sports Coach: Sprinting
- Running Anatomy; Joseph Puleo and Dr. Patrick Milroy
- Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.