You want to get faster. Who doesn’t? But in order to supercharge your sprints, you need to get the basics down first.
One of the main factors is form. Sprinting isn’t exactly just a sped-up version of your regular form during an easy run or jog. It’s similar, but different: The movement patterns of running and sprinting are similar in that you still need to put one foot in front of the other, but different in that sprinting is a much more dynamic version of running—more explosive, to be precise.
If you compared them on a continuum, walking and easy jogging would be on the left side, while sprinting would be on the far right. Think of it like this: walking to jogging to running to fast running to sprinting. All will get you from point A to B, but sprinting requires more power and muscle activation to cover the same stretch of road.
Another difference between jogging, running, and sprinting is foot strike. When walking, jogging, and running, most runners land with a heel strike. The faster you run, the more you shift from heel strike to mid-foot to a forefoot landing.
If you want to get faster at sprinting, the key is to nail down the basics. Follow these nine steps to speed up your sprints.
The harder you run, the more vital it is to warm up your muscles. Walk and easy run for five to 10 minutes, and include dynamic exercises or drills like high knees, butt kickers, and skipping to further prepare your body to run fast.
Focus on Posture and Core
Keep your torso upright, shoulders relaxed and away from your ears, and engage your core (don’t collapse). Unleash your Superman pose. You should also try to incorporate core-strengthening moves—think side planks with reach, legs down with scissors, and mountain climbers—into your workouts to help give you the power to push forward.
Run With a Circular Motion
Think like a cyclist and move your feet in a circular motion, raising your thighs up until they are parallel to the round, and driving your knees up and down. Think of it this way, rather than an ovular or reaching-out motion.
Land on your forefoot, and focus on pushing off from your toes to propel yourself forward and keeping your feet flexed upward toward your shins. Running softer and landing quieter might help reduce injury, too.
Drive Your Arms
Hold your arms in a bent position at 90 degrees, and drive your elbows backwards to create momentum. The position helps to ensure that your movement and force travel in the same direction.
It’s a more exaggerated arm swing than a jog, where your arms move through a wider range of motion with your hands coming up as high as your chin and backward toward your butt.
Shorten Your Stride
Long strides are energy wasters—you end up producing more vertical energy and projecting more upward motion than forward motion. Focus on cadence speed rather than distance as you sprint. You’ll run faster and more efficiently by taking short, quick strides.
As you push off from your forefoot and toes, bring your heels up toward your butt.
Relax and sync your breathing to the rhythm of your feet. You’ll reduce wasted energy from muscle tension. Follow these tips to improve your breathing while you run to help prevent injury.
Perform Rolling Starts
Try this drill to feel the difference between walking, jogging, running, and sprinting. Start by walking, and increase your speed every 10 seconds until you reach a sprinting speed.
As with anything in the high-intensity world, a little goes a long way. Work into high-intensity sprint training gradually to allow your body to adapt to the demands of the workout, and stick with it to see improvements in your running fitness and overall health.
By Jenny Hadfield