There is a lot going on in a 100-meter sprint, despite the fact that these competitions last less than 15 seconds. Success begins with a quick response to a starting signal, then relies in turn on acceleration, maintaining peak speed and good strategy. The degree to which a runner masters all of these aspects is the degree to which she runs a faster race.
Because timing off the blocks is tight and critical for the 100-meter dash, Olympic rules mandate that starting commands are delivered via speakers behind each runner, rather than with starting guns. This eliminates any speed-of-sound delays so runners in every position hear the signal at the same time. ClintonAthletics.com recommends that you prepare for a speedy take-off by positioning your front leg at a 90-degree angle to the hips and the back leg at a 130-degree angle, with strong pressure on the back block. Look down with your arms straight, keeping your focus on moving fast when the starting signal sounds.
Off the Blocks
When the starting signal sounds, drive as much force as possible into the ground with your arms and legs. You'll keep your body at a 45-degree angle as you pump your arms and legs for the first 10 meters of the race, still looking down. At 10 meters, you'll transition to the acceleration phase of the race.
Runners will spend the first half of a 100-meter dash accelerating to top speed, according to Olympic sprint champion Usain Bolt, in an interview for the documentary "The Fastest Man Alive." To achieve faster acceleration, you must attempt to get as many repetitions of the race as possible to improve your running technique. It's also important to exercise off the track to build fast-twitch muscle strength. Running resource website SpryFeet.com lists the quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus maximus, hip flexors and calves as the primary muscles used in a sprint. A weight training program to build those muscles can contribute to your rate of acceleration, as can other exercises that build strength in those muscles, such as running up hills or stairs, using a weighted sled or cross-country skiing.
Strategy in the 100-meter dash is simple as compared to other races. You accelerate as fast as you can, then run at top speed to the finish line. Bolt notes that the only complication is knowing when to look to the side to check on competition. While turning your head will slow you down, not knowing what's happening in the race can also affect your final time. Bolt says he looks twice during a race: once at 50m and again at 80m.
Even though the 100-meter sprint is a short race, it's still possible to "gas out" and have to slow down before the finish line. This can ruin your time for a race that had a promising start. The simplest technique for building up your wind for the 100-meter dash is to run at top speed for longer distances. Competitive sprinters incorporate multiple distances into a complex routine of daily practices, under the supervision and guidance of a qualified coach. You can start with three sessions per week, each consisting of four 100-meter sprints for technique, 2 200-meter sprints for wind and a 400-meter stretch run.