The 100m is a race of power and explosiveness. The greatest sprinters can cover the distance in under 10 seconds. You could be forgiven for thinking that the 100m is an easy race to run. However, learning how to sprint effectively is no easy feat.
It is incredibly difficult to achieve the times of the most elite athletes. Being naturally quick is not enough to succeed I’m afraid. Dedicated training and specific practice are needed (and that’s just how we like it!).
But don’t threat, this article will take you through how to run the 100m and will hopefully lead you to achieve better times in the event.
First, let’s go through what you need to do to set up for the race. Getting this right could make all the difference at the finish line.
A good warm-up will facilitate faster muscle contractions and prepare you for the race.
You need to make sure you get a lot of blood flowing so that oxygen is transported to the active muscles contracting.
- 5 minutes of cardio
- Leg Swings
- Mobility drills
- Technique drills
- Accelerations x 2-3
Set Up The Starting Blocks
When you are setting up your starting blocks you want to make sure your setup is the same every single time.
You don’t want to vary or guess your block positions because your start will change from race to race and you’ll lack consistency.
How to find your pedal positions:
- Use 2 feet lengths from the start line for the front pedal.
- Use 3 feet lengths from the start line for the back pedal.
- Place the angle of the blocks at around 45 degrees.
Note: This is a guideline. Feel free to practice varying block positions in training and stick with what feels best for you.
If you have no clue as to which foot should be in the front blocks here’s the magic trick to find out.
Test both. See what’s most comfortable and what allows for the greatest acceleration out of the blocks.
Not magic enough for you? Okay, then try this trick.
Cross your arms against your chest and close your eyes. Geet someone to push you gently in the back (this is where you get to judge the character of your friends. This is on you, not me).
Whichever foot you put out goes in the back pedal.
But really. Test both.
Once the blocks are in place, I like my athletes to go through the same routine. They do a couple of accelerations from the blocks (2-3) and increase the distance of each acceleration from around 10-30m.
From there each individual usually has their own routine that helps get them to relax and get in the zone. This can be some sort of pre-race ritual, positive mental imagery etc.
Don’t worry about this too much when starting out. It will develop over race experience. The important thing is to try and settle the nerves and keep relaxed.
On Your Marks…Get Set…PRACTICE!
Block starts can be a bit tricky to perform, especially if you’re inexperienced. That’s why practice during training is so important.
To get into the blocks, start out in front on all fours and coil yourself back into them like a spring waiting to pop.
Don’t place your entire foot on the pedals. You want the tip of the forefoot to be in contact with the ground as demonstrated in the picture below.
Place your hands just outside of shoulders width and make sure they are behind the line. Your fingers and thumb should form an arch which will allow for stability when you come up into the set position.
When the official says set, raise your hips and extend slightly at the knees. Come up into a position where your hips are higher than your shoulders.
Keep a straight line through the hips, spine and head so that everything remains in a neutral position.
Don’t lean forward so that you are over the line. This will take the tension off your feet and transfers them to your hands. We want the tension in your feet so that you can push hard off the pedals and explode from the blocks.
How To Execute The race
We’re able to split the race into 3 different phases. Get these right and you’ll start to lower those numbers on the clock.
The Acceleration Phase
This phase involves blasting out of the blocks by pushing off the rear and front pedals hard with both feet. Here you want to pull your rear leg through quickly whilst the body leans forward.
Extend the leg in the front pedal at the knee and hip upon completion of the movement to bring the body into a 45-degree angle from the ground. You should be able to make a straight line from the foot that was in the front pedal through the body and to the head as shown in the image.
Your COM (centre of mass) should be in front of your foot during the first few steps while you drive low. During your first stride out of the blocks, really focus on pumping your arms as you drive out.
Try not to overstretch yourself during your first stride out from the blocks. This will only cause you to decelerate faster. It also puts unnecessary pressure on the hamstrings which could cause an injury.
Note: This often occurs due to poor positioning in the blocks or the athlete trying to stand to an upright too quickly.
The Transition Phase
During your acceleration, you will begin to build momentum and increase your velocity. Try and increase the length of your stride with every step.
The next task is to make an efficient transition to an upright horizontal sprinting position over the first 30-50m.
This should be a gradual process that allows you to come up naturally from the force created by your strides. Abstain from standing upright too quickly. This will cause you to lose momentum faster and decelerate.
The Gliding Phase
The gliding phase begins once the torso is upright. Here you will use your leg muscle strength and sprinting form to maintain a wide but comfortable stride length.
Try and stay relaxed. This means no hunching of the shoulders or clenching of the jaw. You want to glide to the finish line. High levels of tension in the body will only slow you down sooner.
Deceleration is unavoidable but a good sprinting technique can help maintain maximum velocity.
Should I Dip For The Finish Line?
The short answer, maybe.
I always advise my athletes to run the 100m as if it were 110m. Always continue sprinting through the line. Don’t ease up on your efforts.
Never dip leading with your head low or swing your arms out for the line. In a close race, the winner will be determined by the first torso or trunk of the body that reaches the vertical plane of the closest edge of the finish line. (You may wish to read this sentence a couple of times, I certainly I had to).
This means you won’t necessarily win if your head, an arm, or even a leg crosses the line first. However, as you approach the finish you can lean forward with your shoulders to dip for the line.
As with most things, you’ll get better and better at judging this with experience.
So should you dip at the line? As I said, maybe.
100 Metre Sprint Training Templates
Sprint Training: Week 1
Day 1: 4 x 6 x 60m back-to-backs with 5 min recovery.
Day 2: Strength training session.
Day 3: 3 x 110m/90m/70m/50m with 7 minutes recovery.
Sprint Training: Week 2
Day 1: 3 x 5 80m harness runs with 6 min recovery.
Day 2: Strength training session.
Day 3: 3 x 60m/80m/100m/120m with a walk back with 6/8 min recovery.
Sprint Training: Week 3
Day 1: 4 x 40m/ 3 x 60m/ 2 x 80m/ 1 x 100m with 5/7/9 min recovery. First set from blocks.
Day 2: Strength training session.
Day 3: 40m/70m/100m/70m/40m x 2 with 6 min recovery.