This video is a combination of form work and sprint work. As those who have read this blog know, I’m a big believer in sprint training for distance runners. The video shows Will doing hill sprints and then a frame by frame analysis of his running form where I’ll walk you through some of the things I look for and see.
Generally, we start with hill sprints and progress to sprints on the track. There is something to be said for learning how to run fast.
The partial goal behind these hill sprints is not only to work on mechanics and pure sprint speed, but to accomplish some nervous system adaptations too. Distance runners rarely work maximally. Doing these sprint type workouts are great for activating a large amount of muscle fibers, including the rarely recruited Fast Twitch fibers. Increasing the total amount of fibers that can be recruited increases the muscle fiber pool which the athlete can “access”. The more fibers available, the more can cycle in and do work, or do work when everything is fatiguing.
Also, you get some nice adaptations with muscle stiffness and reactivity. If you think about it sprinting is essentially as a specific a plyometric activity as you can get. So, we’re also working on decreased ground contact time at the same time.
In this video, Will is doing a set of hill sprints after a 9mi run. He’ll progress from here to doing some flat sprints and then turning that into a bit of speed endurance with some longer sprint work (100s..150s, etc.).
Below is my notes on his running form during the sprints which I’ll go over in the video. You’ll probably notice two main things that I don’t believe in that is prevelant in some other sprint coaches theory. First, is the pawback. It’s not something to try for or is actively done. Secondly, is the step over concept. Don’t believe in that one either.
1. Loaded up and about to extend the hip
2. Don’t worry about step over the knee. Recovery mechanics are a
result of other mechanisms (hip extension, stretch reflex) rather than consciously trying to do it.
3. Drive phase- needs to think more vertical. Partially caused by too much of a forward lean from waist.
4. Arms are good. Don’t cross midline. Note that the stopping point of the arms also corresponds to stopping point of knee drive. Everything’s tied together. Arms and legs work in sync. Just a NOTE: not with will but othes a lot of time reaching out with heel is tied more to arm movements than what there doing with legs. If the arms contin to cross chest then legs have no choice but to keep going too.
5. Good position here for Will
6. Great landing for Will who used to heel strike a bit. Landing is pretty much at a 90degree angle under his knee. Flat footed. Note also that there was no pawback of the ground.
7. And there we go, landed, loading up. Recovery leg isn’t too far behind coming through.
So, in conclusion:
1. The #1 thing is landing/footstrike and Will nailed that. For most HS kids, the rest is bonus and tweaking. Getting him to get think more vertical when running fast will allow for more ground to be covered and this is partially tied into the slight forward lean. That would also help the recovery leg come through a little better.
But overall, for Will it was very good. You have to remember to look at it from an individual perspective and look at where they’ve been and how far they’ve come.