Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Running Like A Sprinter

"You learn to run like a sprinter, you'll be a great distance runner." -Alberto Salazar

Think back to when you were a child, the golden days. No responsibilities, no worries. No boss breathing down your neck about deadlines, no college professor assigning massive research papers. Just finger painting, snack time, and recess. Oh nostalgia...the things you do to me.

Once again, my undiagnosed ADHD has gotten the better of me, the point I was try to get at was at recess there were inevitably games. Whether you were a Tetherball gal or a Four Square guy, recess was a time to let loose. And while I was never particularly talented, but my game of choice was always football. I never played competitively, never got any farther than the field behind Centennial Elementary, but I loved it.

You recall that my last post focused on running with proper form. From the likes of Mirinda Carfrae and Craig Alexander, we can discern some of the subtle nuances of foot strike, posture, and even arm position that make them some of the sport's best runners.

You know who can also be some of the best runners? Small children. Kids that run around playing recess games, sprinting as far down the field as they can. Because they don't really focus on all the small things, they run, often unencumbered by those clunky things we call shoes, the way that humans were meant to run. Why is this? Because they're running the way that they find comfortable, the way we were meant to.

Running with a barefoot style, and sprinting in particular, is the execution of the best form that we can possibly achieve. Because we're trying to get from point A to point B as fast as possible, we're forced into the most efficient form possible. And while young kids usually execute the subtleties such as proper arm swing, the one thing they're really good at (and unknowingly, I might add) is execution of a generally good form, usually better than the majority of older athletes I've encountered.

Take a look at a big marathon like Chicago or Boston sometime. Watch the lead pack, because that's invariably what the television shows, and then go on to Youtube and watch the Olympic final of the 400 meter sprint. You'll notice that runners in both scenarios have a very similar gait. Remarkable, isn't it?

Now granted, the stride length of the marathoner is shorter. That is because they aren't in a full tilt sprint. If that lead pack stays together all the way to the last 200 meters though, you'd see the stride length become greater and the tempo increase as well as they tried to get to the line first.

I don't know about you, but when I ran track in high school, we were generally split (as runners) into two groups, the sprinters and the distance runners. Knowing what I do now, I wish that hadn't been the case. We can both learn things from the other group of athletes. At the end of the day, we were all runners, weren't we?

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