Wayne’s Wisdom: M75 Bennett shares bounty on faster sprinting
A couple weeks ago, M75 sprinter Wayne Bennett sent me a paper he wrote, saying that coaches who say “run yourself silly and then run some more” is bad advice, especially for masters. “This just tears up the body and tires it out,” Wayne writes from Texas. So he attached a short paper he once wrote and says he believes it really works. He begins: “One of the things that I have noticed is that a lot of sprinters donâ€™t really know what to concentrate on in their training. Too many of them rely on what they remember from high school and college days. All too often that training was faulty.”
Wayne’s treatise on sprint technique continues:
Here are a few things that I have learned by listening and watching some of the best in the business. Form and technique is extremely important. Speed, strength, speed endurance and strength is the name of the game.
I am going to take the liberty of telling you my theory of how to get the most out of your body. Weightroom work is very important. Core strength and upper body strength makes a big difference even in a short race.
You donâ€™t have to be a big muscle person to have strength, but the stronger the legs and upper body the more force you can exert onto the track to be faster.
Technique and form will win a lot of races. Two items are really critical here: Placement of the foot precisely under the hip and bringing the foot all the way up to the butt behind you. The foot also must be dorsiflexed. That means locked into position with the toes always pointed up.
When the foot hits the ground, it is correctly placed on the ball of the foot, ready to execute a full push off the ground. There is not any power at the toes. If the foot comes down in front of the hip, then you are first braking and then pulling forward before the body can catch up and move forward. All of this is lost time.
Knees do not need to get above horizontal. If they get too high, it takes too long to get the foot back on the ground. I have heard that the foot needs to be moving about 78 mph when it hits the ground. I donâ€™t know how you measure this, but that means you are really bringing the foot down hard on the track. Good footwear is important.
Another thing I have learned is that rest is very important. You do not gain strength during the time the body is working. Strength is gained during the recuperation time between work sessions. You can gain more strength by resting 10 or 12 minutes between all out sprints than you can by running them 2 minutes apart, just wearing the body out before it can repair itself.
Just how often do you ever run two races in two minutes? The same holds true for reps in the weight room. After a hard workout, make the next day an easy one or even an off day.
My routine is to run three days a week and go to the weight room on the other two and rest all weekend except on meet weeks, then I usually skip Friday and Monday workouts.
You also have to keep the body fueled and hydrated. Everyone is different here and I have discussed diet before, but you know what works for you. Yes, I do eat any and everything in moderate quantities but my cholesterol and blood pressure is reasonable and where my doctor says it should be.
One of the things I do on a regular basis, and I wish more would do it, is donate blood. Donâ€™t do it just before a meet, but the body will rebuild the red blood cells in a couple of days.
Another factor of running fast is correct arm action. The arms must come back and then you put your hand in your pocket, so to speak. How far forward you bring them is optional but they shouldnâ€™t come more than 45 degrees above horizontal for maximum stride length.
Upper-body strength is critical again here. One other thing is to keep your chin down. There is nothing up in the sky that you need to see while you are running. The focus should be about 20 to 30 meters down the track. Thatâ€™s all you need to see in a race.
Everything needs to be pointed forward when you are running; hands, knees, feet and eyes: no side-to-side movement. Stepping from one side of the lane to the other as you come out of the blocks is a waste of time and effort. Come straight out with the feet close together.
One other thing is to keep the hips under your body. Donâ€™t let them get behind. They are an integral part of the power train and must be aligned properly for maximum power. I would like to hear from some of you if have a difference of opinion or a better idea than mine.