As coaches we talk about something called power and push. Here’s the thing. Throughout history we’ve always understood that to move something it’s easier to push than pull. The legs are not designed to pull – at all. And yet we’re at a time when people are teaching how to try to create a stronger stride this way. I wonder if a lot of that comes because we don’t have physical education in our schools anymore, so we have coaches that may not be trained like they used to be. They want to do the right thing and hear how you can pull yourself through to make a stride longer. But in reality you really can’t do it. Pushing is what creates momentum.
I use an example all the time about car pushing a car: If a car breaks down you’ve got to get it off the street. You know what to do, right? Who told you to push it? No one. Ever. You just do it because it’s the most efficient way to move it. It gets better. Pushing the car isn’t a quick little step push. It’s a grind. That’s what it takes to get momentum going.
Another example is a bike. Imagine starting to pedal from a dead stop in 10th gear. It’s really hard. But once you get the momentum going – by PUSHING DOWN – you get moving.
We have to get off the notion of creating stride length. Pushing takes more time in the beginning, so your start may seem slow. But it creates momentum and the speed you want in the end.
Here’s another analogy: skipping a rock. On water that rock eventually sinks. Why? Because of the friction created when it hits the water every time…and eventually slows it down. Now, if that rock had something to propel it, it would keep going. Forever, right? But we know that every time it touches it slows down a little bit, spending a little more time on the water the next time…creating more friction…until it stops and sinks.
It’s the same thing with your feet. If you’re reaching to create stride length and your foot lands in front of your center of gravity, you’re not pushing. You’re actually having to pull. That means your foot is on the ground longer. The longer your foot is on the ground, the more friction there is…and that friction is slowing you down.
So, by reaching your legs you’re in front of your center of gravity and you’re moving inefficiently. Then, you’re also putting your foot on the ground longer which creates a braking action and slows you down.
So let’s focus on what the body is designed to do if you want to sprint, jog or run. Start off by pushing something. Forget the parachutes and slides, unless you’re planning to push them. There’s still a problem though because you have to bend at the waist. No one can run well that way. Try sprinting bent over. Instead, find a partner, link arms and practice pushing each other. Do it tall. Do it right.
One more thing: Every time you do something, do it right. Practice like you’re competing. So, always keep your body tall and straight, over your center of gravity…and PUSH. When you’re coming out of the blocks, push yourself up. When you’re coming out of the back and sprinting, stay tall. And push…down to the ground and all the way into every stride.
This isn’t easy. It’s possible you’ve been running the other way – taken millions of strides that way. Take the time to unlearn it and learn that it’s really about pushing.
The Push. That’s where your power is.