Sprinters need strong lower-body power to run very quickly for a short period of time. Practicing fast running and building muscle in the legs may seem like obvious ways to sprint faster, but it is equally important to study sprint mechanics and learn proper running techniques to increase your sprint speed. Watching videos of yourself sprinting is a great way to identify your own problem areas that you can work to overcome.
Short quick strides allow you to run faster over short distances. Long strides mean your feet are in the air for a long time while short strides let you push off the ground and move forward more often and therefore more quickly. Sprint train a minimum of twice a week and focus on keeping your strides regular and short until it becomes second nature. If you match your breathing to the movement of your feet you reduce wasting energy on muscle tension.
Posture and Form
Maintain an upright posture with your shoulders relaxed and keep your head still as you run with your eyes looking down the track. Lock your elbows at an angle of about 65 degrees and keep your fingers extended. Arms should swing forward to a 135-degree angle in front of the body as the opposite leg comes forward, and then backward behind your body. Too much arm movement can throw you off balance. Keep your neck and jaw muscles relaxed as you run.
Try and imagine you are cycling as you run, with your upper legs parallel to the ground and your knees driving up and down. This will help you achieve a circular motion rather than a reaching out one. Push off from the balls of your feet and bring your heels up towards your butt. Usain Bolt also landed on the balls of his feet when winning Olympic gold, which enabled him to keep moving quickly, but can lead to calf injuries.
Beginning quickly is important in making faster sprint times. Always stretch thoroughly before sprinting. Your quick foot should go at the rear of the starting block. Stand squarely and have someone stand behind you and push you in the back; the foot you move first is your quick foot. Do not lift your knee high for the first step and you will sprint faster. Video analysis is a good way to look at your starts. Post-run stretches will also help your flexibility.
Sample Workout Routine
Sprint workout twice a week. Begin with five to 10 minutes of warm up stretches, skipping and a few leaping lunges. Spend five minutes doing sprint workouts focusing on one element at a time such as head position, arm angle, starts and stride length. Use video analysis to check improvement. Have five minutes of fast sprinting over distances from 10 to 50 yards with 30 seconds rest between. Once a week time yourself over 100 yards. On three non-sprinting days perform flexibility and compound exercises.
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