Sprinting is not just fast running. While the movement patterns of sprinting and running are somewhat similar, sprinting is a more dynamic and explosive form of running.
Furthermore, sprinting requires more muscle activation and power to cover the same distance.
Another important difference lies in foot strike. When you’re walking, jogging or running, chances are you’re landing with a heel strike.
As you run faster, you shift from a heel strike to a mid-foot or a forefoot landing.
Therefore, with sprinting, your speed is largely based on your technique.
The following are some tried and tested tips that will help enhance your technique and boost your sprinting speed.
Improve Your Strength
Sprinting involves explosive leg movements so leg strength is key to sprinting faster.
Your hamstrings, followed by your quads, are the most important muscles for improving your sprinting game.
Consider doing plyometric workouts such as box jumps for increasing your explosive strength, leg endurance and your push and strides.
A 2016 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, shows that participants who improved their squat strength, also significantly improved their short sprints.
The next most important muscles are the ones in your neck, shoulders and back as they are crucial for building momentum.
Strengthening these muscles will give your body the required drive to sprint at a fast pace, by simply pumping your arms more effectively.
Focusing on these muscles will also help improve your posture, which is essential for efficient sprinting.
Don’t Forget to Warm Up
The more grueling your workout, the more important it is to warm up your muscles.
Start by walking and then easy running for up to 10 minutes, along with dynamic exercises such as butt kickers, skipping and high knees.
This will help you “warm” your muscles, making them more flexible and less susceptible to an injury during your workout.
Focus on Your Posture
While sprinting, make sure your shoulders are relaxed and away from your ears, your torso is upright and your core is engaged for optimum efficiency.
Not sticking to even one of these posture changes will either cause you to tire prematurely, or not run at a speed you want to.
Increase Your Breathing Speed
Most runners fail to sprint fast because they feel tired as a result of low oxygen capacity – in other words, they are just not able to breathe fast enough.
Your body produces energy in your muscles via oxygen and blood.
It is important to remember that with explosive sprinting, it is also important to be able to breathe explosively. This is something most people do not focus on.
To improve your breathing rate, spend a few minutes each day just breathing fast. Include 30 seconds of quick breathing per set and work your sets up to one minute.
Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Create a rhythm and avoid holding your breath.
This exercise allows your body to acclimatize to the high oxygen intake that comes with fast breathing.
Work your Core
According to a 2009 study lead by the Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences in Barry University, Miami Shores, Florida, a stronger core allows runners to run more explosively and thus, run much faster.
Just 15 minutes of core workout, paying special attention to your lower abs is enough to help you increase your sprinting rate.
Be sure to include plenty of rest and recovery days between workouts to improve your muscle strength.
Not resting enough deters your muscles’ recovery, thereby preventing you from optimizing your workouts.
It’s wiser to follow tough exercise days with a rest day and include low impact workouts, such as cycling and swimming into your fitness routine.