How Speed is Created? Training for the Sprints 100-200-400 (merged)

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How Speed is Created?

How Speed is Created?

Three components affect your maximal speed: Stride Frequency, Stride Length, and Anaerobic Endurance. Here’s a quick look at all three & how they work together.

How Speed is Created?

Three components affect your maximal speed: Stride Frequency, Stride Length, and Anaerobic Endurance. Here’s a quick look at all three & how they work together.

Part One: How Speed Is Created?

Have you ever watched a foot race and asked yourself why one person beat the others? Your answer was probably, because he or she is faster. If the winner won by a significant distance, you were probably right. However, if the finish was close, you may have been wrong.

It is true that some people are just naturally faster than others because of their genetic or physiological makeup. However, take two people who have the exact same genetic makeup, and have them race. Will one win and one will lose? Yes, even if it is by the narrowest of margins, but why?

The answer is biomechanics or, in laymen terms, technique. When watching a race you probably have noticed that each person looks like they run differently. These differences are biomechanical in nature.

Everyone can improve his or her basic speed. There are three factors (other than genetic) that determine how fast a person runs:


  • Stride Frequency – This is the number of strides a person takes in a set amount of time.
  • Stride Length – This is the measured distance of each stride taken.
  • Anaerobic Endurance – This is your body’s ability to sustain maximum effort for an extended time frame.

All three of these factors are dependent on each other for the creation of speed. In other words, a person cannot become faster without improving all three components. For example, the number of strides a person takes in ten seconds will only make them faster if the length of each stride is greater than another’s. This is exactly what I will address.

Conversely, if one person’s stride length is the same as another’s, they will not be faster unless the frequency of their strides is greater. Finally, we have anaerobic endurance. Without it, stride frequency and stride length are inconsequential because you are physiologically not able to run at maximal effort.

In the next three installments, I will address the two technique components of speed development (Stride Length and Stride Frequency), and some simple training techniques. If these are implemented and practiced, anyone can improve overall speed.

Part Two: Stride Frequency

Stride frequency is one of the max speed factors. This will explain the definition and practical influence of stride frequency and how it affects maximal speed.

Stride frequency is defined as the number of times a foot touches the ground in a given amount of time (usually seconds). This determining factor of maximal speed is the most difficult to change, and thus, has the smallest affect on speed production.

However, because the movement of the lower leg with each stride affects it, it is important. More specifically, where the foot touches down with relation to the rest of the body can affect stride length, which in turn, affects stride frequency.

Basically, if the foot touches down behind the body the stride has been shortened. A shortened stride causes a slightly greater frequency rate.

Conversely, when the foot touches down in front of the body the stride has been lengthened. Stride lengthening slows the frequency rate of your stride. This is typically called over-striding in speed training. Over-striding is the most common mistake made by sprinters in relation to stride frequency.

When the foot strikes directly under the body and the lower leg is 90 degrees (or perpendicular to the ground), stride length is optimal. This allows the athlete to reach his or her optimal frequency, which allows the sprinter to maintain maximal speed.

Additionally, where the foot touches down with relation to the body, and how often it touches down, can be influenced by biomechanics, or movement of the hip, knee, and ankle joints.

There are a few specific sprint technique drills which can influence the movements of the hip knee and ankle joints which will help maximize the sprinters technique as it pertains to optimal stride frequency.

Nine Exercises For Sprinters!
The basic idea of these exercises is simple. Explode off the ground, and then once your feet touch, explode again spending minimal amounts of time on the ground.
Click here to learn more. ]

My next segment will explain the definition and practical influence of stride length and how it affects maximal speed.

Part Three: Stride Length

Stride frequency is one of the max speed factors. This will explain the definition and practical influence of stride frequency and how it affects maximal speed.

Stride length is defined as the distance between touchdown of the toe of one foot and the touchdown of the toe of the other foot.

This factor varies greatly from sprinter to sprinter. Stride length can even change for an individual depending on whether he or she is racing at longer or shorter distances.

However, we’re not going to get into all of that. Instead, we will focus on how, either by shortening or lengthening your stride, you can better obtain your maximal speed potential.

First of all, the length of each stride can vary due to several factors including but not limited to:


  • Strength
  • Flexibility
  • Injury
  • Leg length
  • Endurance
  • Biomechanical technique.

It is relatively easy to determine a persons optimal stride length. All that you need to do is watch where the foot is with relation to the upper-body when it touches the ground.

Optimal position of touchdown should be somewhere between six and twelve inches in front of the sprinters center of gravity. Touchdown any closer to the body’s center of gravity (or behind it) will cause a decrease in force applied to the ground.

The greater the force applied to the ground, the greater the speed.

Conversely, touchdown any farther away from the center of gravity and the foot will act like a brake. This over-lengthened stride decreases the amount of force applied to the ground. This, in turn, will slow the sprinters maximal speed.

So, generally speaking, in relation to the sprinters center of gravity, if the foot strike is behind the center, the stride is too short. If the foot strike is too far in front of the body’s center, the stride is too long.

What this all means is that a greater stride length will help a person become faster, only if it does not slow stride frequency or decrease the amount of force applied to the ground.

As I mentioned earlier there are specific drills that can be practiced to help an athlete maximize his or her stride length, as well as, stride frequency. I will discuss these in the final installment of this series.

Part Four: Technique Drills

Of the three max speed factors, two of them, stride frequency and stride length, can be improved by executing a few simple drills while training. Here’s a look at them.

Now that you understand that speed is a product of both genetic ability and biomechanics (or technical form), I will walk you through a few technique drills that will help you learn and develop proper running form.

There are two drills that can help anyone become faster, if practiced and perfected. They are the “A” and “B” drills. The “A” drill precedes the “B” drill, and both are to be learned in a progression from marching or walking, to skipping and finally running.

Sprint Technique Drill #1 – A’s


      This is a simple drill to help the sprinter achieve high knees and toes when the leg is up in front of the body during the sprinting motion.

Begin by simply walking forward slowly, while staying up on the ball of your foot. As your toes leave the ground to step forward, dorsi-flex the ankle or pull your toes upward toward the knee and hold them there. While holding your ankle in this position, flex the hamstring and pull your heel upward toward your buttocks.

Then, using hip flexion, pull your upper leg and knee forward and upward parallel to the ground. Note, at this position, your ankle should be underneath and slightly behind your knee with your toe still flexed upward. Then simply extend the hip and knee and put your foot back on the ground.


When you start doing this drill, begin by repeating the same leg for several repetitions before switching to the other leg. Once you become more comfortable with the motion, alternate in a normal walking gate, then speed up to a skip, and finally perform this drill at a slow running pace.

The “A” drill helps to improve both stride frequency and stride length. Flexing the tow upward and pulling the heel directly to the buttocks shortens the leg, thus allowing it to be pulled through the range of motion more quickly and will help to increase the speed or frequency of the stride. While holding the lower leg in this position and flexing the hip to raise the knee parallel to the ground helps to assure the stride length is optimal.

Sprint Technique Drill #2 – B’s


      “B” is simply a continuation of the “A” drill. To perform this drill, begin by doing the “A” drill, once your knee is parallel to the ground, flex the quadriceps muscles and swing the lower leg forward and upward. Similar to when you are kicking something. By doing this, you are simulating the leg swing that naturally occurs when running.


Remember, at this point, you are performing this drill at a walking pace. As you progress with more speed, the lower leg will extend on its own because of forward momentum.

When your knee is fully extended, use your hamstring to pull the entire leg backward and downward towards the ground. Think of this as a pawing action. Pulling the leg back with this movement causes the foot to touchdown nearly under the body’s center of gravity, and allows the force of the next stride to be applied at the proper angle and direction so speed can either increase, or at a minimum, be maintained.


Start practicing this drill just as you would with the “A” drill. Begin by repeating the same leg for several repetitions before switching to the other leg. Once you become more comfortable with the motion, alternate in a normal walking gate, then speed up to a skip and finally perform this drill at a slow running pace.

There are other factors that play a part in the production of speed. However, stride frequency and length are the most crucial and most difficult to maximize. Practice these drills, perfect them, and apply them when you are sprinting at full speed. You will become faster!



How is Speed Created?


Bolt narrowly holds off Gatlin to regain his world title in Moscow 2013.

Training for the sprint races (i.e. 100 meters, 200 meters) may seem simple, just practice sprinting every day, but it is in actuality quite a bit more complex.  When you watch a sprinter like Maurice Greene run 9.79 for 100 meters, he has trained to execute every single step of the race perfectly (at least that is the goal, and when he ran 9.79 he came real close to running the perfect race).  There are several components of sprinting that need to be trained to execute properly to improve sprinting performance.

Coordination is one of the most influential factors effecting sprint performance.  To sprint fast, you must coordinate all the limb movements and force applications.  Any improper or inefficient limb movements will hinder sprint performance.  Thus it is important to train your body to sprint with proper coordination (i.e. recruitment of muscles in appropriate order) and efficiency.   Sprint drills (i.e. high knees, but kicks, etc.) and the exericises listed below will help improve coordination.

Speed is obviously another very influential factor effecting sprint performance.  Even if you coordinate all of your limb movements and force applications well, if you do not have good speed you will not be a fast sprinter.   Luckily you can improve your speed with specific training.  For example, running 2-3 sets of 4-5 repetitions of 20 to 60 meters performed at an intensity level of 90 to 95 percent, with 3-6 minutes recovery will help improve your speed.  Also varying the starting type for the sprints from standing, rolling and flying starts.   Speed development work such as the workout above should be done on good training surfaces which are level, dry and neither too hard or too soft.  Warm air temperatures will also facilitate the efficiency of this type of training.  Cold weather will hamper this type of training, but can be done with an appropriate warm-up.

Strength is another important influential factor effecting sprint performance.  Strength contributes to both stride length and stride frequency, as well as affecting other training parameters.  An athlete with good coordination and speed may still not make a great sprinter without sufficient strength.  For instance, without strength you will not be able to start explosively or have the ability to maintain adequate leg-lift in the closing meters of a 400 meter race.  Strength work can be broadly classified into two different types:  general and specific.

General strength work is designed to provide a good all-around, balanced base of strength.  General strength work provides the foundation upon which specific strength and technique work may be built upon.  Thus the primary objective is to prepare the athlete for more advanced types of training.  Some example so general strength training are circuit training using the athletes own body weight for resistance and/or weigh training using 20 to 100 percent of the athletes body weight for resistance for 8-12 repetitions for 2-3 sets.

Specific strength work is aimed at developing strength most consistent with the strength demands of each sprint event.  Thus the strength program for a 100 meter sprinter will differ from that of a 400 meter sprinter.  Specific strength exercises relate closely to the movements of sprinting and directly contribute to the technical development of the athlete as well.  For example, resistance using harnesses, high-knees, bounding, hopping, bounding over hurdles, and sprint up hills.

Also attached is a 505KB PDF you can download here on the 200-400 training

Run-200-400 Sprint


The Fastest Way to Sprint Faster

Jupiterimages/ Images


How Speed is Created?  The Fastest Way to Sprint Faster


Whether you’re a track runner or a football player, improving your sprint speed can help you perform better in competitions and become a stronger athlete overall. If you want to become a faster runner, you can increase your s

tride rate, increase your stride length or improve your sprinting mechanics to minimize wasted energy and movement, according to the National Strength and Conditioning Association. You can use several training techniques to help.

Step 1

Work on your running form. Improving your form can help shave seconds off your sprint time by minimizing unnecessary movement and energy expenditure that can cause fatigue and slow you down. Focus on keeping your head and chest facing forward and looking ahead rather than down as you run. Drive your arms forward and strive to eliminate any sideways movements in your arms or legs. Lift your knees as your spring forward, bringing your legs upward and forward.

Step 2

Take a video of yourself running on a track and analyze your form to see if you have any excess, sideways or unnecessary movements. If you have a coach or training partner, ask for feedback on the video to help you figure out where you can make improvements and modifications on your form.

Step 3

Do plyometrics training to improve your running form and efficiency. Plyometrics use quick, explosive movements to help train your body and mind to perform better in sports. Some plyometrics that can help you become a stronger, faster runner include scissor kicks, tuck jumps, box jumps, lunge jumps and fast knee raises. Do plyometrics exercises on a track twice a week and use a stable box or bench for the box jumps. Do three sets of 10 of each exercise.

Step 4

Strength train twice a week. Resistance training will make your muscles stronger, helping you become a more powerful runner. Power can help lengthen your stride or increase your running steps, shaving time off your sprints. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends doing eight to ten strength-training exercises with eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise. Do exercises that target all of your major muscle groups, especially your leg muscles. Squats, lunges, leg press, chest press, calf raises, crunches, back extensions, triceps extensions, bicep curls and push-ups are all effective resistance training exercises.

Step 5

Do speed workouts. Running intervals — alternating sprints with periods of active recovery or jogging — can help you become faster and train your body to perform well even while fatigued. Your interval distance should depend on your training goals and can range from 100-meter sprints to 400-meter runs. Allow your body twice as long as your interval time to recover between each set. Aim to run the same pace — about 85 percent effort level — for each of your intervals. Do from three to eight intervals at least once a week.


Marnie Kunz

About this Author

Marnie Kunz has been an award-winning writer covering fitness, pets, lifestyle, entertainment and health since 2003. Her articles have been published in “The Atlanta Journal-Constitution,” “Alive,” “The Marietta Daily Journal” and other publications. Kunz holds a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from Knox College and is a Road Runners Club of America-certified running coach and a certified pole dance instructor.

Photo Credit: Jupiterimages/ Images


How Speed is Created:

United States Sports Academy
America’s Sports University®

The Sport Digest – ISSN: 1558-6448

Submitted by: Jimmy Boeder, CSCS, Candidate for a Master’s Degree, USSA


Stretch (Photo credit: Iguanasan)


This flexibility program is for all sprinters alike. Whether it is short distance or longer distance, this program can be tapered to your specific needs and expectations so that you can get the most out of it as possible. I have devised this program to work with both high school and college athletes. Obviously, certain things can be tapered since athletes in college and high school are such a broad spectrum, and also because the talent and differences in levels will also be a factor.

Stretching is of huge benefit as it can with proper stretching can bring increased muscle control, flexibility and range of motion. All three of these are important for sprinters to have. Stretching and gaining flexibility can also be a preventative measure against becoming injured. The benefits for sprinters are tremendous. Hurdlers also could fall under this category. As a hurdler you obviously need a certain extent of flexibility to be able to run fast and still drive your lead leg and whip your trail leg over a forty-two inch tall hurdle at very high speeds. When stretching, it is obviously important to remember to not overstretch so as to hurt or pull a muscle. (Reed, 2007)

When stretching to increase flexibility and range of motion it is important to be consistent and do it often in order to really receive benefit from it. Stretching before and after workouts or even before or after warm-ups are things that are quite common and have most often been proven effective. Stretching should also be done in a comfortable environment to increase blood flow and flexibility. If it is cold outside, you are then encouraged to stretch indoors, because muscles are that much more taught when the weather is a little bit chilly.

These stretches should be done for about fifteen to twenty seconds, depending on how the muscles are reacting to your stretches. If your muscles are sore, it is important to not over due it and certainly to stop if in pain. It is also important to not bounce as you stretch, it should be one smooth fluid motion with little movement after the initial surge. These next ten stretches are common to sprinters and aid in the improvement of flexibility. These can be used pre-run or workout, but you will see the most progress when doing these post run. These also aid in the getting rid of lactic acid build up in your muscles as well.

1. Legs and calves
With your feet shoulder width apart and pointed out to about a 15º angle, heels on the ground, bend your knees and squat down; if you have trouble staying in this position hold onto something for support (such as a wall or partner). This is a great stretch for your ankles, Achilles tendons, groin, lower back and hips. Hold stretch for up to 30 seconds. Be careful if you have knee problems. If pain is a result of this stretch, stop this stretch immediately.

2. Lower body stretch
Rotate your ankle clockwise and counter-clockwise through a complete range of motion with slight resistance provided by your hand. Rotary motion of the ankle helps to gently stretch tight ligaments. Repeat 10-20 times in each direction. Do both ankles. (Atlas, 2008)

3. Legs, feet and ankles
Slowly pull your toes back toward your shin until you can go no further, then stop and hold the foot flexed. Next, slowly bend at the thigh joints until you feel a stretch in the back of the lower leg. Hold this stretch for approximately 10-15 seconds as you keep the foot flexed. This is an excellent stretch for the rear of the lower leg. (Lilley, 2008)

4. Lower leg
Straighten out your arms and legs. Point your fingers and toes as you stretch as far as you can. Stretch and then relax. This is a good stretch for the entire body. Hold for 5 seconds. (Unknown, 2008)

5. Full Body Stretch
This is a very easy stretch which you can do lying on your back. This stretch is beneficial because it stretches a body area which is generally hard to relax. Relax, with knees bent and soles of your feet together. This comfortable position will stretch your groin. Hold for 30 seconds. Let the pull of gravity do the stretching.

6. Back and groin
From the bent knee position, interlace your fingers behind your head and lift the left leg over the right leg. From here, use your left leg to pull your right leg toward the floor until you feel a good stretch along the side of your hip and lower back. Stretch and relax. Keep the upper back, shoulders, and elbows flat on the floor. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat stretch for other side.

7. Back and hips
The last stretch is a simple one for your triceps and tops of your shoulders. With arms overhead, hold the elbow of one arm with the hand of the other arm. Next, gently pull the elbow behind the head, creating a stretch. Do it slowly. Hold for 15 seconds. Do not use drastic force to limber up. Stretch both sides. This is a good way to begin loosening up your arms and shoulders. You can do this stretch while walking.

8. Lower back and hamstrings
To stretch your calf, stand a little ways from a solid support and lean on it with
your forearms, your head resting on your hands. Bend one leg and place your foot on the ground in front of you, leaving the other leg straight behind you. Slowly
move your hips forward until you feel a stretch in the calf of your straight leg. Be
sure to keep the heel of the foot of the straight leg on the ground and your toes pointed straight ahead. Hold an easy stretch for 30 seconds. Do not bounce. Stretch other leg. (Atlas, 2008)

9. Legs and hips
Sit with your right leg straight. Bend your left leg, cross your left foot over and rest it to the outside of your upper left thigh, just above the knee. During the stretch use the elbow to keep the leg stationary with controlled pressure to the inside. Now, with your left hand resting behind you, slowly turn your head to look over your left shoulder, and at the same time rotate your upper body toward your left hand and arm. This should give you a stretch in your lower back and side of hip. Hold for 15 seconds. Do both sides. Don’t hold your breath; breathe easily. (Pribut, 2008)

10. Arms and shoulders
To stretch the quad and knee, hold the top of your right foot with your left hand and gently pull your heel toward your buttocks. The knee bends at a natural angle when you hold your foot with the opposite hand. This is good to use in knee rehabilitation and
with problem knees. Hold for 30 seconds, each leg.

From my research and observation it is very easy to see that stretching can and when done properly does improve flexibility to a point. As a sprinter and hurdler I know this first hand and am able to cite specific examples throughout this whole paper. Being flexible is also a sign of being physically fit and active. These ten stretches are just a handful of the many that are out there.

Reed, M (Jan.30,2007). All Experts. Retrieved October 26, 2008, from All Experts Web site:

Unknown, (June 21, 2008). To Stretch or Not to Stretch. Retrieved October 31, 2008, from Core Concepts Web site:

Lilley, E (2008). Stretching for Peak Performance. Retrieved October 31, 2008, from Shape Fit Web site:

Atlas, J (2008). The Best Flexibility Stretches. Retrieved October 31, 2008, from Optimum Flexiblility Web site:

Pribut, S (2008). Stretching. Retrieved October 31, 2008, from Dr. Stephen M. Pribut’s Sport Pages Web site:


Copyright (c) 2002 – 2010 United States Sports Academy. All rights reserved. All submitted material, once approved by the Editorial Board and published, becomes the property of The Sport Digest. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is strictly prohibited, with the exception of acknowledged references in scholarly material (less than 200 words).


How Speed is Created? :What does Dorsilfexion do while sprinting?


Sprinting is a very dynamic action that requires you to apply large forces into the ground. Sprint speed can be improved through rigorous training, but there are also technical aspects of sprinting that can be improved in order to improve speed and performance. Dorsiflexion of the ankle can be a very beneficial technical tool to improve the mechanics of speed..


dorsiflexion plantar flexion


Dorsiflexion is the action of bringing the dorsal, or top of your foot, upwards toward the body. It can easily be thought of as bringing the toes upward toward the shin. The primary muscles used during this action are the tibialis anterior, which are the muscles on the front of the shin opposite the calf.

Dynamic Stretching Exercises for Flexibility and Warming Up

Stop looking for dynamic stretching exercises in Google. This list is the only resource you’ll ever need to find stretch exercises for ALL your body parts!

CLICK HERE to jump straight to the 101 stretches, or read further to learn more about stretching and exercise in general.



Musculation exercice squats 1.png

Musculation exercice squats 1.png (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Jimson Lee,

There’s an alarming trend of Coaches who do not like the conventional double leg squats with the bar behind your head.

But for those who like to do the double-legged squats, it is recommended to do “front squats” with the bar on your front shoulders and collar bone, because if you fail at a given weight, you can easily throw it in front of you and abort the squat safely.  (of course, watch the mirror and people in front of you first!)

Please visit here to read the full article

How to Speed is Created? How to Increase acceleration and become a faster athlete

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Research by John Shepherd, U.K.

London 2012 Olympic Games 100m Final - Start

London 2012 Olympic Games 100m Final – Start (Photo credit: Sum_of_Marc)

The sprinter who gains an advantage in the first 20-30m of the race puts himself at a huge advantage over the rest of the field. Although a quick getaway will depend on sound sprint start  technique, specific conditioning is also required to maximize its potential.


The article discusses

  • What makes great acceleration technique?
  • How to condition greater acceleration
  • Concentric training and acceleration
  • Plyometric training and acceleration
  • Acceleration and leg stiffness
  • Weighted Sleds
  • Overspeed acceleration training

To read the full article

How speed is created? Warming up and Cooling Down for the Sprints

By Roy Stevenson

Jogger #1

Jogger #1 (Photo credit: Ed Yourdon)

Warming up prepares the sprinter’s muscles by increasing the force of their muscle contractions and speeding up muscle contraction rate, giving the sprinter more power and speed. Warming up also helps nervous young athletes stabilize their adrenalin rush before competition, helping them better control their pre-event nervousness. Here’s how sprinters should go about warming up for races and training sessions.


Phase One: Start your sprinter’s warm up with 10-15 minutes jogging to increase body temperature–slow and easy.

Phase Two: This should follow on immediately after phase two and consists of 10-15 minutes of dynamic stretching exercises to reduce muscle stiffness. Dynamic (ballistic) stretches through a wide range of motion work best because they are closer to the athlete’s actual movements in competition; and research shows that static stretching exercises do not simulate rapid running movement and may actually cause a reduction in leg power.

Phase Three: The sprinter progresses to 10-15 minutes of general and event-specific drills. These specific drills put the finishing touches on the warm up and prepare the athlete for sprint training. The drills usually include leg speed exercises, and it is here that pre-race and pre-training warm ups diverge.

To read the full article click here


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In implementing it into your program, I would keep the reps short(3-5 sec.) and rest/recovery long to allow for maximum effort on each rep and full recovery between reps and sets. For an advanced athlete a workout could be 2 sets of four 3 sec. efforts with 2 min. recovery between reps and 5 min. between sets. A less accomplished athlete may only do 1 set.


How Speed is created? Using a Weighted Sled for Acceleration Improvement

By Mike Boyle, MS, ATC

Before even beginning, let’s clear up one point.

How speed is created?

Sport is about acceleration, not speed.


We have a problem in sports. Coaches consistently use the wrong term when discussing the quantity they covet most. Tests like the ten, twenty and forty yard dash are actually tests of acceleration not speed. You only need to look at world-class sprinters to realize that top speed is not even achieved until approximately 60 meters. As coaches our interest is not in top speed but, rather in acceleration, the zero to sixty of the auto world. How rapidly an athlete accelerates will determine success in team sports, not what the athletes absolute speed is.


running sled (Photo credit: bionicteaching)

Read the Full Article here



Sprinting Characteristics of the Sport (rev 2)


This is an archive copy of a document originally located at


At Olympic-level competition, sprint events include the 100m, 200m, 400m, 4 x 100m relay and 4 x 400m relay. The 100 m, and 400 m hurdles can also be considered as sprint events. Sprint and hurdle events rely primarily on the development of power through anaerobic energy.



Elite sprinters train all year round with the base or off-season involving around eleven sessions per week. Off-season training usually involves a considerable commitment to weight training, with about one-third of the total training load being carried out in the gym.

In addition, off-season training focuses on refining technique with a combination of sessions on the track and drill work to improve aspects such as leg speed or knee lift. Stretching sessions, yoga, and pilates are often included to aid in recovery.

As the competitive season approaches, track work increases to include more intervals and sprints, although technique work and weight training are still maintained. Junior and recreational sprinters spend less hours training and training is usually seasonal.

English: SAN DIEGO (July 15, 2008) Cryptologic...

English: SAN DIEGO (July 15, 2008) Cryptologic Technician 1st Class Casey Tibbs trains with a teammate at the ARCO Olympic Training Center to prepare himself for his upcoming Paralympics events at the Beijing Olympics. Brandenburg (Released) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



Major competitions for elite sprinters are the Olympic Games, World Championships and Grand Prix Circuit.

Most Australian sprinters spend the winter months overseas returning to Australia to compete in key selection events during the Australian summer. At junior and recreational levels, competitions are usually held on a weekly basis during the summer months.


Physical Characteristics

Power-to-weight ratio is important for sprinters, therefore maximizing muscle mass and maintaining low body fat levels is desirable.


Common Nutrition Issues

Training Nutrition

Sprinters need to consume sufficient carbohydrate to fuel training needs, however carbohydrate requirements do not reach the level of endurance-type athletes. Sprinters need to be mindful of maintaining low body fat levels but still need to eat a sufficient variety and quantity of food to meet nutritional requirements and allow for the development of muscle mass.

Diets need to be nutrient-dense. This is best achieved by including a wide variety of nutrient-dense carbohydrate sources such as bread, cereal, fruit, vegetables and sweetened dairy products in the diet.

Moderate portions of lean sources of protein such as lean meat, skin-free chicken, eggs, low-fat dairy foods, lentils and tofu should also be on the menu. Energy-dense foods such as cakes, pastries, lollies, soft drinks, chocolate, alcohol and takeaways should be used sparingly.

Appropriate snacks need to be included before and after training to maximise performance during training and to promote recovery. Snack foods such as yoghurt, fresh fruit, low-fat flavoured milk and sandwiches are all nutritious fuel foods and make good snacks.


Nutrition (Photo credit: The Noun Project)


Low Body-Fat Levels

Sprinters require low body fat levels whilst being strong and muscular. Low body-fat levels usually occur naturally for male athletes, thanks to the cumulative effect of training on the right genetic stock.

However, male sprinters often need to reduce total body mass leading into the competition phase. Some of the additional muscle mass gained in off-season weight training is not sport specific, therefore needs to be trimmed to achieve an ideal racing body composition.

Female sprinters often need to manipulate their food intake and training to achieve their desired body-fat levels. Sprinters needing to reduce their body fat level should target excess kilojoules in the diet.

In particular, excess fat, sugary foods and alcohol can add unnecessary kilojoules and would be better replaced with more nutrient-dense foods. See Weight Loss for further information.


Preparation for Competition

Sprint events do not deplete glycogen stores therefore strict carbohydrate loading before a competition is not necessary. The day of competition is best tackled with glycogen stores topped up to their usual resting level. With a high-carbohydrate diet already in place for training needs, glycogen levels can be restored before competition with 24-36 hours of rest or very light training.


Competition Day Food and Fluid

Although sprint events only last seconds or minutes, competition can be a drawn out affair. A typical competition day involves a number of heats and finals with variable amounts of waiting around in between. Your nutritional goals are to keep hydrated, to maintain blood glucose levels and to feel comfortable – avoiding hunger but not risking the discomfort of a full stomach.

It makes sense to start the day with a carbohydrate-based meal. The type of meal will depend on the timing of your event and your personal preferences. See Eating Before Exercise for further information.

Experiment in training if an important competition is coming up so that you can be confident of your routine on race day. Take care to drink plenty of fluid when you are competing in hot weather.

English: Splash (fluid mechanics) Deutsch: Was...

English: Splash (fluid mechanics) Deutsch: Wasserspritzer Français : Splash (Physique) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



Elite sprinters are required to travel interstate and overseas regularly to find quality competition opportunities. While this can be exciting, it can also be stressful. It is often hard to meet nutritional needs in unfamiliar surroundings, especially when time and finances are limited.

Unusual foods, different standards of food hygiene, limited food availability and interference with usual routines can see athletes either gaining weight or failing to meet their nutritional requirements. The following tips may help:

  • Be clear about your nutritional goals and stay committed while travelling.
  • Do some investigation to find out what to expect at your destination.
  • Plan your accommodation with meals in mind. Organising an apartment with cooking facilities gives you more control over your meals and can keep food costs down. If you choose not to cook, make sure your accommodation is conveniently located near shops and restaurants.
  • Take a supply of snacks with you so you always have access to something suitable. Cereal bars, low fat 2 minute noodles, sports drinks, breakfast cereal and rice cakes are good options to pack.
  • Make good choices in restaurants. Beware of hidden fat in restaurant meals. Don’t be afraid to ask the waiter about cooking methods and ingredients and request changes if necessary. Add carbohydrate to meals with plain bread, plain rice, fruit or juice if necessary.



Sprinters who adopt restricted eating habits to maintain low body fat levels can be at risk of a poor iron status. If in doubt, have your iron levels checked by a sports physician.

In addition, a sports dietitian will be able to help athletes to increase their intake of iron-rich foods that are well absorbed by the body. Plant-based iron foods such as green vegetables are poorly absorbed compared to animal-based iron foods such as meat.



Some runners try to replace sound nutritional practices with vitamin pills, protein powders and liquid formulas. Popping a pill is not a quick fix to feeling flat and run down. Rather, it is necessary to address the issue of taking time to eat well and organizing an appropriate training program with adequate rest.

Addressing lifestyle habits and putting good healthy eating in place will be more useful than expensive pills. Some supplements can help in certain situations, but this is best assessed by a sports physician and sports dietitian. The AIS has developed a Sports Supplement Policy to assist athletes and coaches in making educated decisions on the use of dietary supplements and ergogenic aids. (


Case Study: A long day on the track

Despite being the most promising sprinter in the region at last year’s interschool athletics carnival, Bernadette could only manage one bronze medal. Her program had been busy – heats of the 100 m at 9:15 am, semi-final at 12:30 pm, final at 3:00 pm and the 4 x 100 m relay at 4:15 pm. On the morning of the meet, Bernadette managed to grab only a couple of mouthfuls of toast as she rushed out the door. She consoled herself that she was too nervous to eat anyway.

By mid-morning, with the 100 m heats out of the way, Bernadette was ravenous. The pies, hot dogs and chips at the sports ground kiosk didn’t appeal so Bernadette chose some chocolate “for energy”. There was a delay in the start of the semis as the officials sorted out a timing problem.

Bernadette felt herself becoming hot, dehydrated and hungry as she waited to race. She managed to make it through the semi but didn’t run well. There wasn’t enough time between the semi and final to make it across to the other side of the track for some water.

Bernadette ran the final feeling tired from a dull headache and finished fourth. She also timed the baton change poorly in the relay and finished the day with third place in the relay – small comfort for the hours of training she had completed over the last three months.

This year the story was quite different, although her training program was unchanged and the meet program was almost the same as the previous year. The difference was a careful plan for competition day, organised in collaboration with her coach.

Bernadette rose earlier than usual to allow herself time for a breakfast of cereal and fruit juice. She also packed a cooler of provisions for the day – foods and fluids that she had tested out in training over the previous month. After the 100 m heats, Bernadette had a sandwich, banana and fruit juice. She also took a bottle of cool sports drink to sip on leading up to the semis and final.

After coming down from the excitement of winning the 100 m final, Bernadette was feeling too excited to eat and drink. However with an hour to go until the relay she knew it was important to have something. Bernadette was glad she had packed a ‘ready-to-go’ liquid meal supplement in her cooler. Refreshed and revitalised, she prepared for the last event and helped her team win a silver medal in a closely contested relay.

While Bernadette knows that her medals were not just the result of particular food or drinks, her careful organisation did allow her to do justice to her talent and training, rather than see it wasted with careless race-day mistakes.


 Exercises to Increase your Running Speed? (rev 1)

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A 200 metres run at the 2005 Athletics World Championships in Helsinki. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Increasing your running speed requires more than just practicing running. Use targeted exercises at home to build your endurance and strength and help you avoid injury when running. Many of these exercises help you develop the fast-twitch fibers in your legs, allowing for a faster start off the running block.


Arm Swings

Moving your arms correctly while running helps propel your body forward. Train your arms in the proper movement by standing with your feet together and alternating your arms forward and backward as if you were running. Focus on proper positioning; hold your elbows at a 90-degree angle. Start with your right arm forward, swinging it forward until the biceps is nearly level with your shoulder and your relaxed fist about eye level. At the same time, swing your left arm back so that the biceps is almost parallel to the ground and your forearm points straight down. Try this exercise seated as well to add intensity and train your arms to move at the right level, making sure your hands don’t brush the floor as they move. Add light weights to work the shoulders.

Butt Kickers

Exercises that stretch your muscles and increase muscle tone simultaneously can help you run faster. Butt kickers are an excellent example. Start to jog inside your house or in the yard, then bring one knee to hip level in front of you. Continue jogging, alternating your knees by bringing them up high and forward. Practice this move until you’re able to touch your gluteus with your heels with each knee raise. You don’t need a large space to perform this exercise, just enough space to move back and forth at a jogging pace. .


In contrast to an endurance run, sprinting works nearly all of your leg muscles to help you move faster during a normal run. You can also practice sprinting at home; you may need a yard to give you adequate room to sprint. From a starting position, run at 95 percent speed to the edge of your yard. Ideally, you should sprint for at least one minute to begin with. Sprint back to the house, then walk around your yard for a few minutes. Work your way up to 10 full-speed sprints before taking a breather. For added intensity, use a sloped area of your yard. Sprinting uphill and downhill works different muscles than sprinting on flat ground, building your overall leg health and helping you run faster while reducing the chance of injuries. .

Wall Drills

Wall drills help you focus on form and work your trunk and back as well as your legs. The more these muscles learn to work together, the faster you can run. Stand in front of a wall and place both hands flat on the wall. Lean forward so your body is at an angle. Run in place by lifting one knee up toward the wall, keeping the foot directly under the knee, then alternating quickly with your other knee. Your feet should return back to their starting position between knee lifts. .

Ins and Outs

A classic speed-development technique, ins and outs requires you to set up cones or markers in your yard about 20 yards apart. Run at about 25 percent of your maximum speed from the first cone to the second, then sprint at full speed back to the first cone. Repeat the process twice, then walk between the cones for a breather. Build up to five sets. .

Acceleration Runs

If you have an acceleration ladder, you can use it in a relatively small space in your home. If not, place flat sticks 18 inches apart on your floor for the same effect. In the first drill, run as fast as you can through the ladder, touching both feet between each stick. Focus on lifting your knees as high as you can and getting your feet off the ground as quickly as possible each time. For the second drill, place only one foot between each rung as you run as fast as you can down the length of the ladder. Keep your back upright and straight, and focus on moving your arms correctly to help keep you balanced.

Down Hill Sprint Training


By Aaron Thigpen

(video by Adarian Barr)

Downhill sprinting is basically a form of assistance or “overspeed training”. Basically forcing an athlete to move the legs faster than they could normally generate. I don’t have novice athletes run downhill. It pretty much should be reserved for elite caliber athletes who have a full mastery of their sprint mechanics. Here are my reasons:

As the athletes gain greater than normal speed as they run down a hill you will see the following improper running mechanics:

Landing on their heels · Jamming the toes into the ground (braking) · Leaning or pulling the shoulders backwards · Getting arms & legs out of sync · Short choppy strides or flicking the feet behind them · Falling forward out of control.

These are all natural responses once athletes start to achieve above normal speeds. Repeated runs like this do nothing but ingrain improper movements as well as increase the risk of injury to the knees, back, and hamstrings.

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