It’s a good feeling to run from a stand or a walk; I am reminded of my childhood, both starting races and charging around the recess school yard. It’s basically succumbing to the sudden urge to move as fast as possible, arms and legs working in unison (a rare and celebrated feat for most of us at some point in our lives!). Cutting through the air, flying between every foot fall…and really, who doesn’t dream of flying? This is a good thing.
Yet, tack on an explosive acceleration before this flight, and you’re dealing with magic. The straight raw acceleration that can change every time you do it, from the angle your body makes with the ground, to the precise movements of your arms and legs, right down to the fingers and toes. No matter of the exact technique or clocking of the distance, it’s an ALL OUT effort. I love placing my feet behind the line, relaxing everything I can think to relax (without looking like a floppy invertebrate), shoulders dropped away from my ears, arms loose by my sides, tension in my face released, breathing in deeply through my nose, head angled slightly down and looking up, focusing like a predator about to initiate the chase on some imaginary prey I’ve been stalking. I crouch my legs a little and bend at the waist, letting the back of my fingers brush the ground, hips held high, eyes focused unseeing behind my feet while complete consciousness is projected down the track a short ways. I slowly feel my weight begin to shift to my toes as my folded body leans forward, remaining frozen in the same relative position.
Just as I reach the tipping point, as if waiting any longer will result in me landing flat on my face, I explode into a knee and arm drive, fighting to keep my upper body low, in line with my pushing leg. It’s all about angles. Quickly my driving knee shoots back, toes raised and the spikes in my shoes poised like a carnivore’s fangs ready to tear into the track as soon as it’s within striking distance. My other knee comes driving through, my core stabilizing as I propel myself forward between the push off the track with one leg and the quick sling-shoting of the knee of my other leg forward. I drive with every step, seeing the textured mondo fly by in front of my eyes as I pick up speed as rapidly as possible.
My acceleration decreases (though still positive…is my scientist showing through?) as I approach top speed and by now I am running taller, covering much ground with every stride, my footfalls are perfectly timed firing of pistons revolving around my ankle. I am touching the ground and then instantaneously off it again as my legs and arms rhythmically switch positions.
Then there’s the slowing down. If you’re indoors and significantly close to a matted wall (please make sure it’s matted), quickly figure out your projected steps lining up a safe sideways shoulder check into the mat, bounce off and land lightly on your feet travelling at a significantly decreased rate in the opposite direction. Probably more preferred is the gradual deceleration, knees still coming up, but leaning slightly back, offering a little resistance with each contact. This takes some time and space. Finally there is the kid stop, feet flapping loudly as the same effort that went into accelerating as quickly as possible goes into stopping as quickly as possible. Not the best for your body.
Note: warm up first, or else hold the very strong belief that there’s no reason you cannot sprint safely at the drop of a hat (I’ll likely get to the topic of beliefs at a future date).
When trying to decide what to write about (rule number one of blogging is to have SOMETHING to write about), I floundered at first: “write what I know…well, what do I know? Track and field. Track’s not very interesting, I do it every day.” It’s easy to overlook the things that you’re used to seeing. I soon realized that although I full out sprint over and over again at least six days a week, most people don’t…unless they’re being chased? Or coming in for a skydiving landing?
Thus I decided to begin this blog with sprinting as I know it, as a predator…chasing as opposed to being chased. I hope you relish in it as much as I do!