Working on my “start” is part of my speed training. I remember my mistake at The National Masters Indoor Championships in 2006. When the gun went off for the start of the race, I went backwards and not forwards giving up position on the tight 200 meter track. I wanted to start off in a certain group for the mile, but they were already gone. I ran a 4:46 just before my 43rd birthday. I corrected my “start” mistake the following year at the same track in Boston at The National Masters Indoor Championships. After working repeatedly on my start and the initial 100 meters of the one-mile race, I ran a 4:37 just before my 44th birthday. I had earned my qualifying spot for this National Championship and wanted to stay with the leaders for the first 1/2 mile. My good “start” helped me establish position in the lead group and allowed me to keep my race strategy for an improved time in 2007. Now that I am soon embarking on my 5th tour for www.OneMileRunner.com, I am working on my “starts” this month as I prepare for my first race on July 1st.
The shorter the race, the more importance is given to the start. Usain Bolt in the 100 and 200 meters knows how important his “start” is going to be in London next month. From 400 meters and below, sprinters use “starting blocks” to begin their races. Events longer than 400 meters (one lap around the track) do not use “starting blocks”. Even though in longer races the start is not as important, it is still fun speed training and certainly gets you focused on the task at hand.
Here are the 7 keys to a fast start for races that do not use a starting block:
- Line up your feet in a sprint position one ahead of the other. (Decide which foot you would like to have in front – this will be your push off leg).
- Your feet should be about shoulder width apart with your front foot flat and the back foot just touching with your toe. (If you begin with a base too wide, it can cause you to retract backwards at the shot of the gun).
- Whatever foot you have in front, raise your opposite arm up high in a full arm swing position.
- Lean over the starting line (yes, it is legal to lean over) with almost all your body weight on your front foot.
- At the shot of the gun, thrust down and back with raised arm and push off with your front foot at the same time. This will literally launch you off the line to begin your race.
- Keep yourself in full sprint mode to get position at the start of your race and to avoid collisions with other participants’ legs and elbows.
- Maintain your sprint speed for a desired length (somewhere between 60-200 meters depending on the race).
Enjoy the power of your new “start” and begin your race with a bang!