How to Run the Perfect 100m

Sprinter on 100m start line

The 100m is a race of power and explosiveness.

It is often listed as the most anticipated event of the Olympic Games and is a highlight at any athletics competition for many.

Millions of people around the world watch the Olympic 100m final with bated breath, as 8 men or women take their place on the starting line to see who will be crowned the fastest athlete.

The greatest 100m athletes 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 run the 100m effectively is no easy feat.

If you are a 100m sprinter then you already know that it is incredibly difficult to achieve the times of the most elite athletes.

Being naturally quick is not enough to succeed in the 100m. Dedicated training and specific practice are needed. 

There are aspects of the race that you must to work on too.

Driving from the starting blocks and acceleration, keeping a solid technique, staying relaxed and focused at the same time for example.

When you take everything into consideration, all of a sudden it seems like a daunting race to run.

This article will go through  how to run the 100m and will hopefully lead you to achieve better times in the event.

Article Overview
  • The different components of the 100m
  • How to run the 100m effectively
  • Training examples for how to run the 100m

What Footwear Do I Need for the 100m?

There are many different types of spikes that are created to serve a different purpose depending on the event you are competing in.

For example, long distance/high jump/multi purpose etc.

Each type of shoe is designed to help benefit the athlete in whichever type of race or event they are competing in.

Therefore when running the 100m, you need to make sure you are wearing spikes that will allow for optimal performance and execution of the race.

So the first thing you want to do is make sure that you are actually using sprint spikes that are designed to optimise your sprinting ability. 

Sprint spikes are designed for speed and power. They have a hard sole, lack flexibility and are incredibly light in weight.

The hard plate provides you with support against the high forces generated with every foot strike, but in general, sprinting spikes are not designed for comfort and support and should not be used to cover long distances. 

sprinting spikes sole
100m sprint spikes

The actual spikes are positioned across the forefoot of the shoe. This is because 100m athletes run on the balls of their feet. 

What this does is allow for better traction of the track surface, which allows the athlete to generate a greater amount of speed and power with minimum foot contact with the ground.

sprint spikes forefoot

Preparation for the 100m

Set Up the Starting Blocks 

100m starting blocks

When you are setting up your starting blocks for the 100m you want to make sure you do the same thing every single time.

You don’t want to vary your block positions because it means your start will change during every race and you won't find any consistency.

To find your pedal positions, use 2 feet length from the start line for the front pedal and 3 feet length from the start line for the back pedal. Place the angle of the blocks at around 45 degrees.

Watch how to set up your starting blocks here

NOTE: You can practice varying block positions in training once you are more experienced if necessary.

When deciding on which foot to have placed in the front pedal, just think of which leg you would jump of off.

The leg that you jump off will be in the front pedal and the leg that leaves the ground first will be in the back pedal.

This is your block position.

Getting into the Blocks for the 100m

Before each 100m race, once the blocks are in place, I like my athletes to go through the same routine.

We will do a couple of accelerations from the blocks (2-3) and then from there they are able to create their own routine to perform which helps with consistency.

At the end of the day, what you do is not overly important, as long as it helps you relax and prepare for the race.

When getting into the blocks you want to start out in front and coil yourself 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 you can see 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.

100m starting position

How to run the 100m: 100m starting position

Starting Out of the Blocks 

When the official says set you want to raise your hips, extend slightly at the knees and 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.   

Many 100m sprinters/coaches think that this gives you an advantage, but actually it takes the tension off your feet and transfers them to your hands.

This will make you less stable and create some slack in your legs, meaning you won't be able to push off the blocks as hard.

Don't try and anticipate the starter's gun.

This is likely to lead to a false start and disqualification. Wait for the “B” of the Bang and forcefully drive your feet into the pedals to push off explosively.

NOTE: The correct type of strength training can help with explosivity out of the blocks.  

100m set position

How to run the 100m: 100m set position

How to Run 100m

Element 1 of the 100m: 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.

Then 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 below.

100m acceleration

How to run the 100m: 100m acceleration

 Your COM (centre of mass) should be in front of your foot during the first two steps while your drive low. 

Also, during your first stride out of the blocks, really focus on pumping your arms as you drive out.

sprinting with centre of mass in front of your contracting foot

How to run the 100m: Correct COM positioining  over first 2 strides out of the blocks

I've seen athletes land flat footed or even on their heel after their initial stride due to overstriding with a high knee. This is often down to poor positioning in the blocks or the athlete trying to stand up too quickly. 

This will only cause the athlete to decelerate faster.  It also puts unnecessary pressure on the hamstrings which could cause an injury.

Element 2 of the 100m: The Transition Phase

After exploding from the starting blocks, you want to increase velocity and make an efficient transition to an upright, horizontal, sprinting position.

This should be a gradual process that allows you to come up naturally from the force created by your strides.  

After you leave the blocks, try and increase your stride length and frequency with each stride as you come into the upright position over the first 30-60m.


Element 3 of the 100m: The Gliding Phase

The gliding phase begins once the torso is upright. 

Here you will use your leg strength to maintain a wide but comfortable stride length.

At this point you should be relaxed, have low shoulders, a jelly jaw, and glide to the finish line with a good sprinting technique.

Acceleration, Maximal Velocity and Sub-Maximal Velocity in the 100m

100m athletes accelerate from a dead start out of the blocks. This allows them to push hard off the pedals and build momentum during their drive phase.

They will then transition into maximum velocity sprinting.

The athlete will continue accelerating until they reach their (or very close to) maximal sprinting velocity. At this stage it is no longer possible for the athlete to continue accelerating. 

The focus switches to trying to maintain maximum velocity through sound technique whilst generating a large amount of force as quickly as possible. 

This helps limit the rate at which deceleration occurs during the remainder of the 100m.

Deceleration cannot be avoided, (even the best in the world begin to decelerate) however the degree at which an athlete decelerates will ultimately have an impact on your overall sprinting performance.

The most elite 100m sprinters can hold their maximum velocity longer as they have a reduced amount of fatigue affecting their central nervous system. They typically decelerate around the last 20 of the 100m.

Drive Through the 100m Line

I always advise my athletes to run the 100m as if it were 110m.

You should always continue sprinting through the line and never ease up on your efforts as you approach. This is a sure fire way to lose out to someone who really wants it.

As you approach the finish you should lean forward with the shoulders to dip for the line.

Never dip leading with your head low or swing your arms out for the line because in a close race the winner will be determined by the first torso or trunk of the body which reaches the vertical plane of the closest edge of the finish line. 

This means you won't necessarily win if your head, an arm, or even a leg crosses the line first. So your dip really can make the difference when it comes down to a photo finish.

100 Metre Sprint Training

Warm-up for the 100m

A good warm up for the 100m 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.

100m warm-up key points:

  • 5 minutes cardio
  • Leg swings
  • Mobility drills
  • Technique drills
  • Accelerations x 2-3

100m Training Examples

100m 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.

100m 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 walk back with 6/8 min recovery.

100m 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.

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