T Nation

Teach me to sprint properly!!!

Guys, I have recently taken up interest on a spectator basis of track and field - and have just got back from 2 days at the commonwealth games here in the UK(it absolutley rocked!! bitter about our sprinters but cest la vie, eh?) Now i have posted a few times and am now on the mend about my manky shins, Ive been looking into runners form. Now here is where anyone with track experience could really help me out; I have never been coached in anything bar rugby before - so what ive learnt is from text videos. I seem to get contracsting advice on how to run! The max distance is 200m, usually work in the 10-100m range. Am i supposed to be up on my toes, or is that for the lower end/start distances(<25m), and preogress to a longer heel to toe based stride? Anyone who can provide specific information or where I can reserch myself I will be grateful for, resting the manky legs for a week os so - so I want to ‘bone up’ to get it right this time.Thankyou again for your help


My advice would be to search for a Charlie Francis book. He was Ben Johnson’s coach. John Smith is excellent too, at UCLA - I forget the name of his club, however (Mo Greene, John Drummond)

You stay on your toes the whole time. Going heel-toe just slows you down.

Thanks scorpio, im heading to amazon now! - are there any sprinters on t-mag? - if so I would be interested in hearing some info from yourselves

Where do you live? If it’s London, Leeds or Loughborough there will be a plethora of athletics clubs - go join one. Do your sprinting workout first - then hit the gym after.

The Charlie Francis writings are very informative regarding training systems, but nothing beats coaching a technique than being coached!

I would be happy to discuss this further.

Dan Fichter

Yes. We use our famous Bulgarian method. The Starter’s pistol is LOADED. That make you fast. He…he…he.

Go visit www.charliefrancis.com/ board/philboard.asp The people there are sprint coaches who can answer all your questions. You’ll probably even get responses from Charlie himself.

Unless there’s something biomechanically wrong with your stride and footstrike, don’t try to mess with it much. What you find is that at a “normal” speed (say something that you would comfortable run a mile), you naturally land on the outside of the heel, rapidly rotate down onto a flatter whole-foot-on-the-ground, then go up onto the ball of the foot and drive from there. As the speed increases, your initial contact point naturally progresses forward on the foot. You don’t actually run “on your toes”. At sprint speed, you’ll land on the outer edge of the foot, just behind the ball, rapidly rotate to a flatter position with the heel “almost” on the ground, and drive from there with a strong push off. Hard to put into words. Get some videos of sprinters from head-on, watch it in slow motion. It will become very apparent what’s going on.

Firstly thanks for the great reply - Im in the Uk at the moment(bristol) and will be in leeds in autumn/fall so I’ll check out some clubs when I get there.

Dan - Thanks for the response - what can you tell me, what information can I supply that will be of use?

As Mike suggested, check out Charliefrancis.com. Dan Fitcher and myself are both regular posters there. It’s the best source of sprinting advice you’ll find, period. But before you start posting questions there, read through the previous posts. There’s thousands of them and they already cover most of your questions. Also, some threads go off on tangents, so read through all of them. Don’t just judge them by their title or you’ll miss gems of information.

Trust me, it’ll take you several weeks of reading previous posts just to get caught up with the discussion on that forum.

You can buy an electronic copy of Charlie’s training manual on the site. However, Charlie is due to release a new manual hopefully by the end of the year.

Dan, sorry I misspelled your last name in my last post. See you over at Charlie’s site!

One more thing. Charlie’s forum has a search engine just liek T-mag’s, which will allow you to find threads that are no longer displayed on the web page. When I say we’ve already covered just about everything on that forum, I’m not kidding.

We have to find out what part of your race you want fixed. Are we talking acceleration or are we talking maximum velocity sprinting. At any rate, you need to start short(yardage wise) gradually increase your acceleration until you become a stronger runner. Most peolpe who start sprinting, sprint to far. Their form breaks down and they accomplish nothing. What are your goals? Bursts of 10, 20 meters??
Good luck, let us know if we can help more.

Dan Fichter-NY

Dan has done a good job of describing Charlie Francis’ progression. Most sprint programs start off with long slower runs and then progress to shorter faster sprints. Charlie starts with short fast accelerations and then extends the length of the accelerations until you’re working at top speed, and then speed endurance is added.

Guys - sorry about the late reply - Uk here. I am currently on the renegade training programme from coach davies. Essentially I am most concerned with sprinting regarding football(as I hope to play this autumn). Now the programme is a mix of longer (100m) and shorter (10-50M) sprints. I also do agility work and drills. Acceleration is in need of some improvment, but i am coming back at it after shin splints. Now I invested and broekn in soem decent running shoes, and have been diligently rehabbing my shin/calf area. My problem seems to be is that I am so concious of my foot strike, that I lose both acceleration and overall velocity. I would just like to have my form down pat before starting up again, thank you both for your help and advice.


If you are on Coach Davies program then hold on cause your speed will be there. Keep to the exact program, dont sprinkle in other work cause it will effect the program you are on. If it says 75% then do 75%. These runs as Flash will tell you, help you a ton.(they are called Tempo runs)

How is your weight room work coming?
Is your work threshold getting better?
Believe me you have the right program. Don’t worry so much about foot strike postion in acceleration. It will come. You have to spend some time on the ground in this phase to get maximal push. Keep up the good work and let us know how you are doing. Any other questions, fire away

Dan Fichter

I’m not familiar with the Renegade program you’re using so I’ll defer to coach Davies and Dan on this. I just want to reinforce that with Charlie Franics’ approach the tempo runs (75%) are for recovery, do not run them too fast or they’ll overly fatigue you instead of helping you recover. 75% is the upper limit, not the minimum. As far as running form, Dan is right, just do the training and don’t think about your form when you’re actually running. The movements are too fast and consciously thinking about them will throw off your technique and reduce your speed. Just run, the form will fall into place as the training progresses.