This is work that is done at, or very near,
maximum speed. Although, this may seem obvious, it is sometimes not
realised that only repetitions of up to a maximum of 5 or 6 seconds
can be completed at top speed. If it is longer than this, then this
is speed endurance - ie the maintenance of a high speed for the duration
of a run.
Many runners will find that they can complete
no more than 30-35m in this time, whilst even the very elite men
will cover at most 50-55m.
Often this kind of work will be done only in the summer and in
conjunction with the practice of starts (whether they be from
standing, crouching or blocks).
Also, it may be useful to do some
sprint work at the start of a session following it with some running
over longer distances to achieve two types of training in one
session. In these cases, the shorter, faster work should always be
done first or else the risk of injury is increased due to running at
top speed when fatigued.
There are a number of
different ways in which athletes can practice running
at top speed. These include
Sprints from standing or tripod starts (meaning one hand on the floor)
Flying Runs For example timing 30m where the athlete has a run up to the start line
In and Outs Here cones are set up at 10-15m intervals and the athlete works hard between alternate cones - relaxing, but still moving quickly, on the others.
Relay changes This is a good way to get some fast running done where the athlete runs "naturally" because they are concentrating on changeovers.
A typical top speed session for a sprinter might
be 3 x 30m flying runs, then 3 x 40m from blocks all with a full recovery, followed by some speed endurance
work, for example 4 x 150m with 6 minutes between each repetition.
It can be helpful to have someone else
observing your running or recording you on a camcorder. Ideally,
this person will be experienced at picking up good performance, but
even if they are not, you can use their feedback for example by
asking them specific questions. For instance, to what height do my
arms reach at the front and back of my arm swing, if you know what
skills you are trying to perform.
As mentioned above, drills are very useful in improving technique
- please see the separate drills section.
In order to be able to sprint efficiently, a
good running technique is important. This can be improved by thinking about
how you are running and maintaining relaxation as much as possible.
Concentration on technique in the warm up and in the performing of
strides and drills over a period of time will hopefully lead to good
technique being transferred to the full sprinting action