Some people are born with speed while other people have to work hard to develop it. But no matter if you were born a tortoise or a hare, you can make yourself run fast by improving your technique. Evaluating the key elements of running that top 100-meter sprinters use during competitions can help you whether you are looking to run in events or just to run a little faster.
Your power leg is the leg that will be closest to the starting line while you are in the blocks. This leg generates all of your forward momentum when you come out of the blocks. Determine which leg this is by having a coach push you from behind. The leg you use to catch your weight is your power leg. Line up in a four-point stance, with your hands on the ground just behind your shoulders and your hips above your shoulders. Bend your power leg about 90 degrees and your back leg about 120 degrees.
Come out of the blocks by driving your back leg out and down the track instead of up. The arm on the same side as your back leg should also push out. Extend your entire body so your head, spine and back leg are in a straight line at a 45-degree angle to the ground. As you stride, come more upright until your shin is perpendicular to the ground after seven or eight steps. Keep your arms very active during these initial strides while concentrating on driving your knees toward your chest.
Upper-Body Striding Form
Keep your head held high and in line with your spine as you transition to the middle section of the sprint. Run with your hands relaxed and slightly curled. Move your arms backward by driving your elbows back instead of twisting your arms across your body. For women, your hands should move from bust height to around your hips. Keep your shoulders loose in order to let your arms move freely.
Lower-Body Striding Form
Run on the balls of your feet as you move down the lane, keeping your feet pointing straight down the line. Keep your hips held high while you run in order to let your legs fully extend to the ground. Drive the ankle of your front leg above the knee of your back leg as the back leg pushes off. Visualize that your legs are pumping like pistons as you run, with knees going high with each stride and the feeling that you are pulling the ground under you.
As you near the finish line, maintain your stride while keeping your knee action high. Get your feet quickly off the ground and pump your arms faster than in the early stage of the sprint. When you near the finish line, lunge forward to break the tape. Focus on lunging with your chest, as your torso and not your head or limbs are what is considered to cross the finish line. Lower your head and pull your arms back to push your torso forward in a falling motion.
Richard Manfredi has more than a decade of professional writing experience, both in the media and at a corporate level. Since 2003, he has worked in the public relations industry, creating and executing campaigns for technology and entertainment companies. Manfredi is also a journalist who has worked for the "Orange County Register," as well as several online publications.