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Track Events: Sprints

By: John Beith - Updated: 4 Jul 2019 | comments*Discuss
Sport Health Training Fitness Sprints

The sprint events in track and field cover the 100 metres, 200 metres, 400 metres, 4 x 100 metre relay and the 4 x 400 metre relay. Sprinting, as well as being an event in itself is a useful weapon for any athlete to have. Good sprint technique and basic sprinting speed will help any runner no matter what distance they are running.

Training Routines for Sprinters

Compared to middle distance runners, sprinters are usually more muscular and have greater upper body strength (needed to pump arms quickly). Weight training combined with speed (aerobic exercises) are the basics that most sprinters incorporate into their training programme. A large part of sprinters weight training will consist of strengthening the abdominal and lower back muscles. Bench presses, dumbbell arm swings, leg squats, lunges, snatch and power clean are weight lifting exercises that should be incorporated into the training programme of a sprinter.

Aerobic exercises for a sprinter will include short intense repetitive sprints, running up hills, stairs etc. Sprinting is an explosive sport and strong leg muscles will help power the sprinter from the starting blocks and get into an upright position quickly which is important to reach maximum sprint speed. During the 100m for instance an athlete will reach maximum speed around the 60m mark, and then his speed will decrease during the last 40m. The athlete should be aiming to try and reduce this decline in speed during the last 40m to improve his times.

Training Drills

There are some training drills that can be used to help get the explosive action needed.The basic idea of these exercises is to improve your ability to explode off the ground and spend the minimal time in contact with the ground.

Tuck Jumps -You perform a tuck jump by squatting down then exploding off the ground, trying to get as high as possible. While in the air the legs should be tucked as high as possible into your chest. On landing squat down and immediately take off again. You should try and maintain a smooth flowing motion from jump to jump.

Rocket Jumps - Performed in the same way as a tuck jump, the rocket jump is used to get full extension and stretch from fingers to toes during the jump. In the air the body should be in as straight a line as possible. When you land, squat down and explode off immediately.

Line Hops - Either draw a line or use a lane line on the track. Stand with feet close together and bounce across the line from side to side, keeping your feet as close together as you can. Extend your arms out by your side to maintain balance.

Skips - Using a basic skipping motion, spring up as high as possible with each skip.Pump your arms hard as you spring up during each skip. Cover a distance of about 20-30m walk back then repeat the exercise.

Forward Weight Throws - The throw is performed by holding a shot put between your legs, squatting down, and then exploding up and out while your arms thrust forward releasing the weight. Use a heavy enough weight that you can throw without sacrificing technique or sustaining possible injury. The aim is to throw the weight as far as possible.

Overhead Weight Throws - Are great for increasing your overall power. Stand with your back facing the way you are going to throw. Hold the weight between your legs, squat down, explode back and upwards releasing the weight over your head, trying to throw the weight as far as possible.

Perfecting Your Sprinting Technique

Sprinting is quite a technical event covering separate areas. Starting blocks and their positioning, on your marks and set positioning and routines need to be practised even before you start to run. During the race there is the drive phase, acceleration phase, stride phase and lift phase that all need to be completed properly for the runner to achieve a good performance.

Other technique points to note are:

  • Running tall and erect. Running on the ball of the foot/toes not on the heels.
  • Arms and elbows should be driven back. Not moved across the body.
  • Relaxation. Shoulders should be relaxed when sprinting as should the hands. Arms should move rhythmically by your side driving backwards. There should be no tensing of the muscles in the neck.
  • Try to flow across the ground. Keep your action smooth.
  • High knee action-especially in the stride phase of a race.
  • Fast leg action.
  • Fast powerful arm action to help propel the body.
Sprint safe!

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