Sprinting has become increasingly more interesting for people who are not competitive track and field athletes. Sprinting as fast as you can is one of the most exhilarating human experiences in life. By adding sprinting into your weekly exercise plan you will be improving fitness, strength, body composition, mobility and you will improve your overall health. Sprinting at your maximal effort can be one of the most intense forms of exercises outside of Olympic lifting. ( understand why your current weight routine might be slowing you down. See CF Lecture Series : Weights for Speed Part 1)
1. Warm yourself up.
Muscles perform optimally when warm and hot. Relaxed, easy movements like jogging and skipping with little or no effort are ideal to prepare for sprinting. Keeping muscles covered up until your sprinting preparation has been completed makes it easier to get warm.Warm up for sprinting blog
2. Include light, full range of motion drills before Sprinting.
You are not ready to run your fastest just yet. Keeping your warm up clothes on, taking your time and adding a few exercises like side skipping, arm circles, small numbers of sit ups and a few calisthenics add some fitness building as well as more warmth to your preparation.
3. Add Sprinting Specific Drills to the warm up
You will help yourself by practicing a few movements, which mirror the broken down parts of sprinting. Three simple drills in the suggested volumes of 3 x 10 meters is the best way to start. You will progress this distance over time. Typically, it’s ideal to not exceed 20 meters unless you have become an expert sprint technician.
- Bum kicks, standing straight vertically, heals touch bum isolating the work in the hamstring.
- “A” March, think of marching in a band where you want yourheal that is off the ground to be parallel to the straight leg which means you perform a proper right angle with the bent leg.
- Running “A’s”, like a march, keeping a right angle but touching down repeatedly as you run on the spot. You want to have high knees but you don’t want the knee exceeding the height of your hip.
I know there is a great deal of debate, discussion and research regarding when and how and for how long to stretch. I’ve seen people do so much stretching they run out of time and energy to sprint. It makes sense that if warm muscles perform produce best sprinting results that muscles react best to stretching when warm. Think of stretching at this point, as a checkpoint to see what specific stretches may need to be done to ensure you are ready to do strides.
5. Relaxed Strides. It’s not jogging or sprinting.
It’s not jogging or sprinting. When I say relaxed that is not the same thing as easy. Relaxation is everything in learning to sprint well. The before mentioned steps and preparation will give you your best chance to sprint naturally without thinking. (see sprinting as a hind brain activity in Speed Trap and The Charlie Francis Training System) Progressively run 3 to 4, 50 to 60 meter strides and increase effort and speed as able. Walk back after each one before repeating the next and take your time but do not rush.
6. Spike ready?
Before you are ready to do some sprinting, take a small break to once again stretch your increasingly warmed up muscles. At this point you have progressively prepared your body to do it’s best. To begin sprinting I suggest starting with distances of 10 meters to start. An excellent drill for all levels of sprinters is to lie flat on the ground or track, on your stomach, with head down and either have someone clap or start yourself. The idea is for you to scramble up without thinking to the 10-meter mark. 2 to 3 sets of 3 x 10 meters with this start is an excellent first step to expanding the distance to 20 meters. (I suggest taking 2 to 2. 5 minutes between each set and stretch and lay down and shake your legs in-between sets). This exercise intrinsically places the body in a sprinting position as you get up from the ground
7. Final Suggestions to Avoid Sprinting Injuries
My guess is most people reading this will look at my last sprint volume suggestion and laugh. I know this to be true as one of the single biggest problems with non-experienced sprinters is too high volumes and distances that are too far to begin with. This vital fact sets people up to fail. Keep it simple in the beginning and don’t underestimate the value of high quality short sprints to start your sprinting adventures.
Take rest intervals and breaks seriously. Short distances of 10 and 20 meters can be a walk back recovery but don’t rush. Rest intervals between entire sets are needed. Be sure to take 2 to 2.5 minutes rest before repeating another set. It’s important to allow your best effort without failing.
The more work you are able to do on the grass before sprinting, the more you will be able to save your body both short and long term.
I hope you will enjoy sprinting fast and safely.