The race itself is actually won before the race begins. What I mean by this is the preparation that the athlete has done for the race.
If you want to run fast in a race, you need to have trained your body to execute every phase that’s required to win the race. Usain Bolt and the sprinting group that trains under Glen Mills always credit their training preparation in the leadup to the race. When race day happens, all they need to do is execute everything that they have done in their season’s training.
What things do the athletes need to prepare themselves for in order to run fast in a race?
Power is developed from plyometrics and strength training during the season. The additional power that the athlete generates will allow them to cover more ground everytime the athlete strikes the ground with their foot. Over the course of the race, this will allow the athlete to gain significant ground, which will allow them to accelerate quicker over the course of the race.
The athlete’s acceleration will depend on their leg speed turnover. This can only be improved if the athlete conducts speed drills, which forces them to improve their leg speed turnover. Typically, this will involve sprints of 20-40m, with the objective being that the athlete needs to improve their acceleration speed over that distance.
For sprinters, this will involve a combination of:
- Their starting reaction time.
- Their drive phase.
- The transition to the acceleration phase.
As the athlete develops their sprinting technique, these drills will be extended to 60-100 metres, where they will be trained to hold their form and minimise their rate of deceleration.
This is their reaction time off the ground. They want to minimise the amount of time on the ground with each step, however they want each step to maximise the power that’s used to thrust themselves forward.
Not slowing down (speed endurance)
This is critical and will only come with training that’s done in the leadup to the race. The athlete needs to train their body enough so that it doesn’t force them to slow down during the race. It’s common for athletes to slow down once they hit the 50 to 60-metre mark and then the deceleration is rapid.
The athletes must train their body to hold the form and maintain the speed endurance.
Tip – Run your own race.
Don’t pay attention to how the athlete next to you is running. You need to run your own race. This means executing each phase exactly the way that you trained.