1. SPEED TRAINING FOR RUNNING
Speed is a specific result. To get that specific result (and not some other result), it is important to understand which variables are part of the formula (and which ones are not), and the order of their importance.
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2. SPEED TRAINING FOR SPORTS
Running is part of virtually all sports. In addition to running in a straight line, in other sports running involves sharp and sudden changes in direction and intensity.
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Common Characteristics of Fastest Runners
The fastest and, consequently, the greatest runners in the world (after all, any competitive race of any distance is about fastest time, i.e. speed, and that’s why these runners are considered the greatest because they are the fastest), do a few things in common when they run. Those are also the very things that separate Gold from Silver medals, and give us World Records and record breaking performances across all distances from 100m to marathons, and even ultra distances.
If you’re interested in some of the research that produced these findings, please scroll down this page for a brief list of references.
Let’s go over these characteristics in detail:
1. Have Short Ground Contact Time
Studies have shown that the fastest runners have an exceptionally short ground contact time, and we are talking fractions of a second, hundredth of a second to be precise. This is faster than an average person can blink. Consequently, this one characteristic automatically means several other very important things:
a) There is no push off
Literally, because research showed that this type of action does not physically happen. Additionally, if you think about it, use common sense and consider the timeframe within which it’s supposed to happen, it becomes clear that there is simply no time for this type of action to happen during that hundredth of a second.
b) No heel striking
This is always a highly debated topic. However, what is not debatable is this – when you land on the heel of your foot, in order to continue running at all, you need to roll forward through your entire foot to reach your forefoot, because the forefoot is the final destination for all runners without any exceptions. It takes precious time to roll from your heel to your forefoot, so it makes sense that none of the fastest runners of any distance land on their heel.
c) No leg extension
No hip extension, no knee extension, no triple extension, as there is simply no time to extend legs if you want to be fast. This applies to all distances and more so to sprint ones. Additionally, research gives us data that shows that faster and more economical runners produce less leg extension at the end of the support phase.
d) Better running economy
It should come as no surprise that research shows that the above mentioned things have significant correlation with better running economy.
2. Land on Forefoot
How you land is part of your running form (what others see), and your running form is the result of your overall running technique (what you do). All great runners display good running form, which means their running technique is top level. It is important to clarify that forefoot is a large padded area that starts with your toes and ends where your foot’s arch begins. Landing on forefoot is also connected to shorter time on support, i.e. shorter ground contact time.
3. Have Higher Cadence
Higher than average cadence allows for faster change of support in order to keep moving forward. While the fastest runners do spend more time airborne, just like everyone else they need to land to keep moving. High cadence is also connected to shorter ground contact time.
4. Bounce Less
Thanks to research we know that faster runners move up and down less than others. This characteristic can also be seen in video analysis of any of their videos freely available online. Movement in vertical directions takes away from movement in horizontal direction, it also carries a higher energy cost. Reducing the bounce serves speed and economy.
5. Have High Angle of Falling
This measurement is unique to the Pose Method. In layman terms, it is referred to as the ‘forward lean’, however, compared to the forward lean, the Angle of Falling can be measured (as the term suggests) and used for technique and speed analysis. The Angle of Falling allows to calculate the current and estimate the potential speed of a runner. The fastest runners in the world (sprinters and runners of all other distances including the marathon and ultra distances) have higher Angle of Falling then the runners behind them.
All of these factors are intrinsically connected. You cannot change one without affecting (positively or negatively) the other. Biomechanics.
- Folland, J. P., Allen, S. J., Black, M. I., Handsaker, J. C., & Forrester, S. E. (2017). Running Technique is an Important Component of Running Economy and Performance. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 49(7), 1412–1423. DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000001245
- Fletcher G, Bartlett R, Romanov N (2014) A Case Study of Two National Standard Sprinters Completing a Pose and Traditional Sprint Start Technique. J Athl Enhancement 3:2. DOI:10.4172/2324-9080.1000145
- A. Pyanzin, N. Romanov, V. Vasilyev, G. Fletcher. International Journal of Therapy and Rehabilitation. – Vol. 19. – Iss. 9. – 06 Sep 2012. Specifics in running kinematics developed by Pose Method in disabled sprinters with cerebral palsy. DOI: 10.12968/ijtr.2012.19.9.521
- Fletcher, G., Dunn, M., & Romanov, N. Gravity’s Role In Accelerated Running – A Comparison Of An Experienced Pose® And Heel-toe Runner. International Society Of Sports Biomechanics, XXV11, 374-377. Education, Physics. Semantic Scholar. 2009 ID: 107318442
- Nummela, A., Keränen, T., & Mikkelsson, L. O. (2007). Factors related to top running speed and economy. International journal of sports medicine, 28(8), 655–661. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-2007-964896
- Arendse RE, Noakes TD, Azevedo LB, Romanov NS, Schwellnus MP, Fletcher G. Reduced Eccentric Loading of the Knee with the Pose Running Method. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2004 Feb;36(2):272-7. DOI:10.1249/01.MSS.0000113684.61351.B0
- Cavanagh, Peter R., Ed. (1990). Muscle Activity in Running, the Extensor Paradox Experiment. Biomechanics of Distance Running. Human Kinetics Books.
- Mann, R. A., Moran, G. T., & Dougherty, S. E. (1986). Comparative electromyography of the lower extremity in jogging, running, and sprinting. The American Journal of Sports Medicine, 14(6), 501–510. DOI: 10.1177/036354658601400614