Biomechanics – Overview

Sprinters take 4-5 steps per second, which means there’s no time to think. Even during a distance run, there’s no time to mentally unpack everything you need to do to succeed. You have to master the mechanics of sprinting with practice and repetition until you get them right consistently.

From the starting line through your smooth acceleration to top speed and on to the finish line, your power will always come from pushing. Your arms and legs are the cycling levers that create your power, and your posture and center of gravity determine how efficiently you’ll use it for speed. Every detail matters.

If you want to run your fastest, we can show you how.


What Are Some Great Drills for Sprint Mechanics?

As you’ve seen by now, there’s a lot going on with the body during a sprint.  Each movement, or facet, is interrelated with the others.  If one facet is done improperly it negatively affects the rest of the motion and ultimately, the athlete’s performance.   Knowing the “Perfect Method” is one thing, actually doing it – […]
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What’s the Most Efficient Form for a Distance Runner?

Let’s look at the key points of good technique for distance running.  It’s all about efficiency. “Run tall”, with the head and torso stacked and the face and jaw muscles relaxed. Run with a natural stride, but don’t reach the foot forward, or the motion of the foot hitting the ground acts as a brake […]
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What are the Biomechanics of the Perfect Block Start?

We reviewed the mechanics and physiology  and other lessons in The Basics section for how the body is propelled, the factors involved with sprinting, and the energy systems involved with powering our muscles.  These are what we call the “absolutes”.   Now that we have a better understanding of the work our bodies do when we sprint, […]
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What are the Block Set-Ups for the Perfect Start ?

As coaches and athletes strive for a competitive edge that allows them to shave off hundredths of a second, one area looked at most often are the starting blocks.  Today, there are misconceptions as to what function the starting blocks play, and the best technique to use to get out of them.  In this section, […]
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What is the Optimal Set Position?

1. The athlete smoothly raises the hips as high as possible, because this is what affects an efficient start. If the center of gravity is too high, there’s less power available to force against the blocks. If it’s too low, it would be very difficult to apply enough pressure in the rear block, affecting the […]
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What are the Best Body Mechanics at the Start for Distance Runners?

We’re often asked if there’s a difference in the start mechanics for distance runners vs. sprinters. Except for the initial standing body position, the answer is NO. What the body should do for maximum power is the same for both. What happens here is going to set the tone for the entire run.   Power […]
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What’s the Secret to Reaction Time?

The “Set” position is held for a very short time.  Of course, the race starts at the sound of the gun.  Beyond having the correct Set Position every time, the “Gun” is what the athlete should train toward; specifically, how to minimize reaction time out of the blocks. At the sound of the gun, the […]
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How Do I Accelerate Smoothly?

If you haven’t had a chance, we highly recommend that you review the Start phase.  We covered key elements that are critical to learn for you to be in the correct body position to enter the Acceleration phase. As you continue to build momentum, the ratio between both vertical and horizontal forces increases as the […]
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How Do I Get to Maximum Speed?

We continued building speed in Acceleration, and we’re fast approaching Maximum Speed, where another critical transition will occur.  As the runner approaches maximum speed,  their center of mass accelerates at a decreasing rate. However, as  they accelerate the ground recedes faster. The result? A reduction in contact time and effective force because of the reduction […]
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How Do I Maintain My Speed?

When you reach Maximum Speed,  there are physical effects on the body.  What happens as  you reach top speed, and throughout the remainder of the run, can mean the difference between running your best or not.   In the previous chapter we learned that top speed muscle contractions are only possible for a few strides.  Then […]
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What’s the Best Way to Maintain Speed as a Distance Runner?

By the time the runner reaches the first curve of the track, they are settling in for the maintenance phase. Stride length and stride frequency will vary from athlete to athlete and this is where race tactics will come into play: whether to run a medium, steady pace over all laps, or to start slower […]
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How Do I Improve My Running Cadence?

No matter what the distance, human biomechanics dictate that short, quick steps are the most efficient way to run. Over-striding, or reaching, means you’re trying to cover too much ground with each step. Running “tall”, with your steps landing under your hips, is the right way to run.

Your running cadence […]


The Coach’s Guide to Common Problems with Running Mechanics and How to Solve Them

Hall of Fame Coach, Tom Tellez, developed this matrix as a reference guide for coaches.  The left column lists what you might be seeing in your athletes, the middle column tells you why it’s happening, and the right column offers the coaching cues to fix the problem.  Once your athlete gets it right technically, continue to […]
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