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Making significant gains in sprinting speed in a short time isn't generally feasible. Quick fixes usually carry a high risk of injury.
If you aren't already doing hill sprints, they can help improve speed. Be very careful on the downhill "recovery" portion, though. The jarring can be hard on your knees.
In sprint events, where tenths of a second count, a better approach to making quick improvement may be to concentrate your extra effort on improving form.
For example, work on getting out of the blocks more quickly and smoothly. The first runner out of the blocks has a distinct advantage in a short race.
To make improvements in relay events, practice hand-offs. Passing the baton smoothly and quickly in a race can make the difference between winning and finishing as an "also-ran."
Most authorities agree that racing in track shoes with spikes provides runners with at least some advantage over those wearing flats. This is particularly true when competing at distances of 400M and less, where traction is especially critical.
Track spikes (shoes) come in various configurations, depending on the intended distance/event. The spikes themselves come in various styles and lengths. The most common styles are pyramid spikes and needle spikes.
The length and type of spike you'll need depends on track surface. Be sure to check with your coach to see what type and length of spike is best for the surface you'll be running on.
The persistence of two relay baton-passing techniques - the upsweep and the downsweep - indicates that coaches have found advantages and disadvantages to both.
The upsweep exchange unquestionably offers the receiving runner a more natural hand position. However, it also requires some adjustment of the baton before the next handoff. The upsweep advantage favors three runners (2nd – 4th leg), while the disadvantage affects two (2nd and 3rd leg).
The downsweep exchange requires no baton manipulation. But it does require that the outgoing runner accept the baton with their arm/hand in an unnatural position. The downsweep advantage favors two runners (2nd and 3rd leg), while the disadvantage affects three (2nd – 4th leg).
In the end, it's usually the coach's personal preference that determines which baton exchange method is used.
There are nearly as many methods for pre-race relaxation and focus as there are racers. Nearly everyone develops their own rituals over time – everything from yoga to giving themselves a pep talk. Here are three ideas you may find helpful:
Breathe deeply: Kneel with your buttocks resting on your heels, your back held straight, and your arms relaxed at your sides. As you inhale as slowly as you can through your nose, bring your arms up in a wide arc, until your hands touch above your head – just as your lungs are full. Now lower your arms slowly as you exhale through your mouth as slowly as possible. Your arms should be down at your sides just as you expel the last of your breath. Repeat three to five times.
Meditate: Sit in the lotus position, or with one leg crossed over the other, and keep your spine straight. Close your eyes and bring your fingertips together gently in front of the center of your chest. Focus on the gentle pressure of your fingertips touching one another. Just be aware of it. Sit quietly for 3 – 5 minutes.
Stretch gently: Do some very easy stretches. Don't extend yourself to the point where you feel any great tightness in a given muscle.
Ask more experienced competitors about how they mentally prepare for a race. Experiment, and adopt the techniques that work best for you.
The distance between hurdles in the 110M race is one of the oddities of American track & field. It's actually an adaptation based on the old Imperial measurements (inches, feet, yards, etc.).
The high hurdles race was originally run at 120 yards, with the hurdles spaced this way: 15 yards to the first hurdle, ten yards between each hurdle, and then another 15 yards to the finish line.
Adapting the race to metric measurements (with 110 meters being fairly close to 120 yards) resulted in today's regulation distances: 13.72 meters from the starting line to the first hurdle, 9.14 meters between each of the ten hurdles, and 14.02 meters from the last hurdle to the finish line.
Scottish Athletics, Ltd., the governing body for athletics in Scotland, lists Andrew Lees as the current Scottish under-15 boys' record holder in the 100m (11.28) and 200m (22.88). Both records were set in August of 1993.
Craig Erskine set the current Scottish boys' under-15 record in the 400m on July 18, 1998. He covered the distance in 49.96 seconds.
USA Track & Field, the governing body that certifies US records, lists records for 18 years and under by 2-year age division. The Midget (11 – 12 yrs) Girls' 100m record is currently held by Angela Williams of Ontario, CA. Angela ran 12.10 seconds on July 31, 1992.
Any sprinter or jumper (long or triple) who would like to improve their performance should consider wearing spikes. The extra traction afforded by a good pair of track spikes can make a measurable difference in performance.
First and foremost, nothing can replace a good coach when developing a training plan. Your coach has the advantage of being able to make specific recommendations based on his/her observations. And don't add anything to your training schedule without your coach's knowledge and approval.
That being said, here are some ideas that may help make improvements in your sprint speed:
1. Develop overall fitness with circuit or weight training.
2. Spend time working on good sprinting form.
3. Add hill sprints to your workouts.
Some experts advocate “overspeed” training – sprinting down a slight (10% or less) incline. If you consider this option, be aware that running injuries are more likely when running downhill at speed.
Long jumpers need three essential elements: speed, strength and good technique. You need a fast approach to assure maximum velocity at take-off. You need strength to control your body during the flight phase. And you need good technique to execute a good approach, take-off and landing.
For maximum improvement, balance your training in all three areas. For speed, the same drills that a good sprinter would use are appropriate. For strength, consider adding circuit or weight training to your program. And for good technique, work closely with your coach.
The arrangement of spikes on a track shoe's sole is based on long experience. While you can certainly experiment by using blanks in place of any – or all - spikes, there's no compelling reason to do so.
If you aren't happy with your performance in – or the feel of – a certain track spike, here are two things to consider:
1. Are you wearing the appropriate shoe? Spikes for sprinting differ from those intended for middle distance, long distance, various field events and cross country. Make sure that the shoe you've chosen is appropriate for your event.
2. Have you tried different brands/models? Many different models of spike are available from various manufacturers. The fit and feel of each model will be slightly different. Try on as many as you can to see which is best on your foot.
Track spikes are made primarily from one of three materials: steel, aluminum or ceramic.
Steel spikes have a cost advantage, while aluminum and ceramic are lighter. Ceramic, though less durable than steel, doesn't corrode, which can make spike removal and replacement easier.
The major manufacturer of ceramic spikes, Omni-Lite, is now the supplier of choice for several of the largest track shoe companies.
For the vast majority of runners, the material used in the manufacture of their spikes will have little measurable effect on performance.
More importat than the material is having the appropriate spike type and length for the running surface, and being sure that the spikes are clean and undamaged.
|Sheri Ann Richerson|