This is really important because you won’t be able to move your muscles as quickly if your muscles are tense. If you ever look at the very top athletic sprinters, they do their best to stay relaxed and maintain their form. Their muscles are trained to be activated when executing a certain movement.
Now when we say that your muscles need to be relaxed in order to run quickly, this isn’t to say that your muscles should be asleep. You shouldn’t be forcing any tension on the muscle. So when you are actually running, the body should be moving in a fluid motion.
What are some common factors for being tense?
Forcing yourself to run faster.
Doing this will immediately force you to tense up and your form to breakdown. The way that you will become faster is by improving the technical aspects of your race through increased power, strength, speed endurance and leg turnover. Sprinters need to execute all of these factors whilst they are running as relaxed as possible.
Tip – Run your own race.
It is important that you run your own race. If you glance to the side and see that someone is getting ahead of you or that you are falling behind in the race, you will tense up if you force yourself to catch up to them. You instead need to focus on the technical aspects of you running the race and maintain your form free of tension until you reach the finish line.
Think of Usain Bolt.
He is probably the best example of a relaxed sprinter. He knows the phases of the race that he needs to execute. Then he will focus on driving out from the blocks for 30m. Then transitioning to the acceleration phase for the next 20-30m.
For the last part of his race, he concentrates on maintaining his form. He runs very relaxed and minimises his body’s rate of deceleration.
Check out the videos below.
How can you run relaxed and fast?
Firstly, you need to train your mind and your body to execute the running movements without tensing up your muscles. For example, many first-time athletes will run with their fist clenched. This uses up energy and slows down your turnover. You must learn to execute a running technique that will allow you to execute power.
What are some ways to achieve this?
Relax your shoulders when running.
It is common to see people run with their shoulders in a shrugged motion. This makes them tense and will often make the athlete unbalanced when running. Pay attention to keeping your shoulders low and relaxed. Your arms should be pumping forwards and backwards without getting any tension in your shoulders.
Avoid tensing any muscles in your legs.
They should be fluid. If you feel like you are swinging youru legs through while running, then you are doing it wrong. Keep them relaxed and have them turnover in a circular motion while you are running.
Avoid tensing your upper body.
Your upper body must be strong, but relaxed. Avoid any tension in your neck, face, arms, chest and even your core. The more tense you are, the slower you will run.
Focus on your technique so you maintain a relaxed running form.
This is really important, since you want to allow your technique to let you run efficiently and relaxed. Your muscles will execute the power in the movement so you can run faster.