Take one look at Usain Bolt’s performance record as an Olympic sprinter and professional athlete and you could be led into thinking he was some hybrid – part man, part cheetah or a superhuman with incredible speed.
While it may look incredible, with his numerous records broken and his fame for holding “World’s Fastest Man,” the reality comes down to immense and careful training and care for one’s body.
Whether your aim is to get that record, or just reach a personal best, there are human ways to push yourself without causing injury or harm.
Therefore, here are my tips on how you can safely push yourself as a sprinter without pulling a hamstring at your next event.
Obtain some supportive footwear:
As a track athlete, particularly one covering a short distance with intense swiftness, taking proper care of your feet should be paramount. One of the best ways to help this is with appropriate footwear to use on the track.
Obtaining running shoes, in your correct size, as well as accompanying socks and/or leg sleeves will provide your feet and ankles with the cushioning and support they need. This will allow you to conduct correct weight and pressure through your foot and surrounding muscles.
Adequate support and care, along with proper foot alignment could help your form and by shortening your stride, you will travel further.
Talking to your coach/health team, along with a podiatrist or footwear specialist can help you choose what is best for you and make sure you don’t sustain an unfortunate injury.
Don’t forget to warm-up:
You may look at Olympic sprinters on TV, flinging their arms about and breathing heavily, and think they’d already run the race or that they’re wasting energy they need.
While it may look strange, this is often part of warm-ups. With any running event, but particularly sprints, it is important to warm up your muscles and stretch.
Short outbursts of energy require your muscles to be loose. Various leg exercises, as well as stretches that “open up your quads, hips, hamstrings and back” will prepare you for the run.
Understand the dynamics and think about motion:
Working up to different stages of speed will also help you to be able to run faster. Your footwork is different between that of a walk and a jog, so, therefore, a sprint will also vary in dynamics.
Make sure to work all your muscles during warm up, as running doesn’t only work your legs.
When sprinting, try not to flay your leg out like a stretch, but more of a circular means, as if you are treading water or riding a bike. Attempt to land on the front of your foot with each step, as you will carry much more weight when at top speed.
Undertake a good fitness regime:
If you want to push yourself as a sprinter, stretching and toning your body shouldn’t be reserved only for training and race day.
Plyometric exercises can help boost the strength and power within your muscles. They are high intensity and can improve how much energy you expel. Some include jump lunges and skipping.
In order for an injury not to occur, however, according to running coach Nick Anderson, “Not more than twice a week and never after running.”
For a high-intensity athlete, this point may sound strange, if somewhat moot; however, it is actually important.
When you are not relaxed, your stress levels rise, which does not bode well for your body. According to the fastest man himself, Usain Bolt, “Your muscles get tight when you tense up.”
Make sure to relax areas such as your shoulders and don’t run with your hands in fists. Keep them flexed.
Now there are some of the ways you can safely reach your next personal best on the running track. Good luck!