SPRINT 100 – 200 MT (part 1)

Fast Running

The technique of fast running in athletics

Running, while constituting an instinctive gesture, in athletics acquires a sophisticated, complex and nuanced technical interpretation, the result of research and improvement by the coach and the athlete, which can reach speeds of up to 10-12 m per second (36-43.2 Km / h). The fast running technique must therefore reach the compromise between athletic gesture and anthropometric characteristics of the athlete, who will apply the theory of movement to his own peculiarities.
The technique of fast running in athletics includes two phases:
• Flight phase
• Contact phase

Technique of the flight phase in the technique of fast running.

Flight is the sequential phase of the motor impulse; is the initial moment, in which the supporting limb extends and the athlete abandons all contact with the ground, while the free limb (which in the meantime has reached the highest point of the thigh) begins its relaxation and prepares for new phase of support. In flight, the center of gravity reaches the highest point of the stroke.

In support, the foot makes contact with the ground on the external part of the metatarsus, slightly ahead of the vertical of the knee; at this moment the cushioning phase begins. For a short period of support, the foot is further forward than the hips, apparently constituting a negative element to advancement but still essential for loading the elastic force of the pushing limb (gluteus, quadriceps femoris and triceps sural).
Now begins the second phase of support, the support; the heel is lowered touching the ground and the speed of advancement of the hips depends on the closure of the free limb which, acting as a flywheel, allows to maintain a high advancement speed.
By moving the center of gravity beyond the support, the pushing phase begins; the previously stretched and loaded kinetic chain, by means of a rapid and elastic contraction, gives an impulse to the system and increases the speed; the supporting limb extends fully allowing the free limb to reach the opposite thigh and allowing the start of a new cycle.

Trunk and upper limbs in the technique of fast running.

The trunk assumes an almost vertical position, but more inclined at the start and more straight in the launch phase (about 10 ° of inclination); the arms perform an alternating movement useful for optimally managing the horizontal component of the thrust, compensating for the vector movement of the lower limbs which would lead to a rotation of the trunk and an oscillation of the shoulders. The arms absorb and limit the eccentric thrusts produced by the lower limbs, optimizing the advancement of the hips; the angle of the elbow closes on the ascent forward to above the shoulders and opens on the descent until it reaches the greater trochanter. All in opposite phase (therefore asymmetrical) to the lower limbs.
NB. In the 400m, the recovery of the free limb can take place with the foot abandoned at the top-back, optimizing the effort in the race.

Starting technique from the block.

A quick reaction time and correct positioning of the body segments are essential to develop a good acceleration in the start from the block, but a too excited and reactive start is not always advantageous to the development of high average speeds.
To learn the starting technique from the block, some exercises are used, or rather, starts from different positions:
• Departures standing from sagittal splits with torso erect, with trunk imbalance forward
• Departures standing from sagittal splits with torso bent forward, with trunk imbalance forward
• Departure from the collected position
• Departure from the all-fours position.
Through these exercises it is therefore able to establish:
• The dominant limb, which must be placed anteriorly
• The spread of the legs at the start, not far from the measure of a foot between the heel of the front and the tip of the hindquarters
• Correct loading, for closing the corners of the ankles and right bending of the legs when starting standing
• Advancement and rapid bending of the hind limb up towards the chest
• Correct dynamism of the arms that assist the movement of the legs.
The collected position is therefore preparatory to the use of the blocks, which are introduced using first only the rear one and then the front one.
When using both toe clips, they must maintain a low inclination to ensure comfort and balance in the starting phase; in the “in your places” position, the front foot is positioned about two feet from the starting line and the rear foot as described above in a crouched position, while the body is placed in the all-fours position (bending the shoulders forward, with the arms parallel and stretched out, touching the knee of the forward leg, and placing the hands with the thumbs back). At “ready”, the athlete lifts the pelvis by squeezing both heels down; the anterior limb has an angle between leg and thigh of about 90 ° and the posterior one of about 135 °. Before shooting, it is important for the athlete to focus attention on the imminent advancement of the hind limb which will facilitate the intervention of the contralateral upper limb on a mass already in motion; the subsequent pull of the free limb will facilitate the rapid extension of the push limb as the arms snap into an adjuvant swing. The arm corresponding to the front leg flexes and does not rise beyond the head, while the upper one is violently projected backwards coordinating with the other leg; the torso does not have to rise immediately, but follow a line almost parallel to the ground to be aligned only at a later time, since the transition from the collected position to the thrown one must take place progressively.

• The Athletics Coach Handbook -First part: general information, races and walking – Study & Research Center – pag. 21:38.