The Mechanics of Speed


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If you ever go to a track meet or road race watch the faster runners. They all seem to glide along with ease. It is always a joy to watch these gifted athletes perform. What is it that they do that makes them run so fast?

The reason that these runners move so effortlessly is that they have mastered the three phases of running. The three phases of running are drive, recovery, and support. Each phase plays an important role in developing speed.

The drive phase as its name implies drives the leg well behind the runner’s center of gravity propelling the runner forward.

The recovery phase begins as the driving leg leaves the ground and continues until the same foot contacts the ground again. This allows the leg to bend and lift upwards toward the buttocks.

The support phase begins when the forward leg contacts the ground below the runner’s center of gravity. In the support phase the leg acts a stationary platform that allows the driving forces to begin. Ways to develop good running technique include videotaping yourself, form training, and visualization.

Have someone videotape you when you run using your best technique. And then analyze yourself in slow motion. Watch for unnecessary movements that can easily be corrected. After accessing your technique visualize what good running form looks like. Then practice good running form by running strides to practice. After a few days videotape yourself again and watch how much you have improved.

The amazing thing that will happen as you visualize and videotape yourself is that you running economy will improve. Your easy day running pace will become faster. When your easy day running improves your race times will also improve.

The less wasted motion that can be removed in your running stride the faster you will be able to run. Think of it this way, what will run better a car that is smoking or a finely tuned one.


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