Correct Sprinting Technique for the Tortoise in You

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re you a hare or a tortoise?

Correct sprinting technique holds the key.

Correct Sprinting Form

The physical act of sprinting is hard-wired into all of us. As children, we seem to have no problem engaging in this activity, and take to it naturally; watch a child play, and you will see them happily jog, run, and sprint. Only with advancing years do we somehow forget 'how to sprint' and its crucial importance to our fitness and well-being.

When you're a kid, sprinting technique isn't something you concern yourself with; what matters is catching that ball, or dodging the tackle, or making your touchdown. No-one needs to TEACH YOU how to run, or jog, or the correct sprinting form. Your sprinting technique is simply a natural part of you as you go about your daily business of being a kid.

But sadly, you can't remain a child forever...

Sprinting Benefits for Tortoises

Fast forward to the day you become an adult, and suddenly everything changes (you have a busy job, a sedentary lifestyle, a grown-up's responsibilities). Moreover, these advancing years typically bring with them a loss of fitness, and the nagging frustration that perhaps your best years are behind you - suddenly, the person in your bathroom mirror is now more tortoise than hare.

No longer are you the youngster who never worried over what they ate, or if they were getting enough exercise. Instead, you fret about the latest health scares; your life insurance; the amount of salt hidden in your diet.

But it doesn't have to be like that. You can quickly reconnect with the child in you.

How do these benefits of sprinting sound?

  1. More energy
  2. Increased fitness
  3. Improved muscle tone
  4. Get lean.

These benefits can be yours when following your 3 step sprinting technique guide.

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Photo courtesy of pareeerica

Correct Sprinting Technique Guide

    1. Start slow to go fast.

    If you are attempting to engage in sprinting after a long lay-off, or haven't so much as jogged since high school, listen to your body as you find a natural running style that suits you.

    Remember how if felt to play when you were a kid and running was simply fun? For now, forget running technique and correct sprinting form, and instead focus on getting outdoors and moving again.

    Trying to do too much too soon often leads to injury, so build your solid foundation first.

    2. Correct sprinting form.

    When you have got used to running again, consider breaking your sprinting technique into its component parts. This way you can focus on and improve specific phases of the action.

    Correct sprinting technique has some of the following characteristics:

    • Arm action. Arms should swing from the shoulder. Keep them relaxed and at approximately 90 degrees of flexion. Your shoulders should remain down, as you focus on swinging your arms in a straight line.

    • Body posture. Your entire body should lean forward slightly as you run. Avoid bending from your waist, as this will adversely affect your center of gravity and correct sprinting technique. Instead, your slight lean forward should come from the ground up. Also try to keep your head and trunk still and your entire body relaxed. Need a training aid? Find a small hill and run up that. The slight slope will naturally encourage you towards a more favorable body posture.
    • Ground contact. Run on the balls of your feet, and NOT on your toes. If you think about it, your toes are fairly weak and offer little or no stability. So please avoid injury by practicing a safe running style.
    • Stride length. There is a fine line between overstriding and understriding. If stride length is too great and your foot lands in front of your center of gravity, it will cause you to brake. Alternatively, if your stride length is too short, your stride frequency will be high but you won't cover much ground - just like a tortoise! 

    3. Sprinting drills.

    Want to fine tune your technique and develop excellent form? Practice sprinting drills. Perform your drills immediately after your warm up or on a rest day, and your sprinting form will improve. Some sprinting drills include:

    • Raise knees: 10 meters - jog - 10 meters - rest. Sprint 10 meters concentrating on raising knees as higher than normal. Jog for 10 meters and then sprint for 10 meters and rest. 
    • Fast knee pick ups: 10 meters - jog - 10 meters - rest. Jogging on the spot, raise your knees to waist height while emphasising arm action. Move forward 10 meters with this action concentrating on the number of ground contacts rather than how fast you cover the distance. Try to get as many ground contacts as possible. 
    • Flicks: 10 meters - jog - 10 meters - rest. While sprinting over 10 meters concentrate on flicking your heels up to touch your butt. 

In Summary

While the physical act of sprinting is hard-wired into all of us, sometimes we can forget what should come naturally.

But there is good news. We don't HAVE to remain a tortoise. By breaking your sprinting technique into its component parts, you can improve your running style, and rediscover correct sprinting form.

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