The technique of fast running in athletics

Running technique

Running, while constituting an instinctive gesture, in athletics acquires a sophisticated, complex and nuanced technical interpretation, the result of research and improvement by the coach and the athlete, which can reach speeds of up to 10-12m. per second (36-43.2 Km / h). The technique of fast running must therefore reach the compromise between athletic gesture and anthropometric characteristics of the athlete, who will apply the theory of movement on his own peculiarities.
The technique of fast running in athletics includes two phases:

  • Flight phase
  • Support phase

Technique of the flight phase in the technique of fast running

The flight is the sequential phase to the motor impulse; it is the initial moment, in which the supporting limb extends and the athlete abandons all contact with the ground, while the free limb (which in the meantime has reached the highest point of the thigh) begins its relaxation and prepares for the new support phase. In flight, the center of gravity reaches the highest point of the stroke.

Technique of the stance phase in the technique of fast running

In the support, the foot makes contact with the ground in the external part of the metatarsus, slightly ahead of the vertical of the knee; at this moment the phase of cushioning. For a short period of stance the foot is further forward than the hips, apparently constituting an element negative to the advancement but still essential to the loading of the elastic force of the pushing limb (gluteus, quadriceps femoris and triceps surae).
Now begins the second phase of support, the support; the heel is lowered touching the ground and the speed of advancement of the hips depends on the closure of the free limb which, acting as a flywheel, allows to keep the speed of advancement high.
By moving the center of gravity beyond the support, the phase of thrust; the previously stretched and loaded kinetic chain, by means of a rapid and elastic contraction, gives an impulse to the system and increases the speed; the supporting limb extends completely allowing the free limb to reach the opposite thigh and allowing the start of a new cycle.

Trunk and upper limbs in the technique of fast running

The trunk assumes an almost vertical position, but more inclined at the start and straighter in the launch phase (about 10 ° of inclination); the arms perform an alternating movement useful for optimally managing the horizontal component of the thrust, compensating for the vector movement of the lower limbs which would lead to a rotation of the trunk and an oscillation of the shoulders. The arms absorb and limit the eccentric thrusts produced by the lower limbs, directing the advancement of the hips in the best possible way; the elbow angle closes during the ascent forward up to above the shoulders and opens in the descent until it reaches the greater trochanter . All in opposite phase (therefore asymmetrical) to the lower limbs.
NB. In the 400m, the recovery of the free limb can take place with the foot dropped at the top-back, optimizing the effort in the race.

Starting technique from the block

A rapid reaction time and correct positioning of the body segments are essential to develop a good acceleration in the start from the block, but a too excited and reactive start is not always advantageous to the development of high average speeds.
To learn the starting technique from the block, some exercises are used, or rather, starts from different positions:

  • Departures standing from sagittal splits with torso erect, with trunk imbalance forward
  • Standing sagittal starts with torso flexed forward, with trunk imbalance forward
  • Departure from the collected position
  • Departure from the all-fours position.

Through these exercises it is therefore able to establish:

  • The dominant limb, which must be placed anteriorly
  • The spread of the legs at the start, not far from the measure of a foot between the heel of the front and the tip of the rear
  • Correct loading, for closing the corners of the ankles and right bending of the legs in standing starts
  • Advancement and rapid bending of the hind limb upwards towards the chest
  • Correct dynamism of the arms that assist the movement of the legs.

The collected position is therefore preparatory to the use of the blocks, which are introduced using first only the rear one and then the front one.
When using both toe clips, they must maintain a low inclination to ensure comfort and balance in the starting phase; in the "in your seats" position, the front foot is positioned approximately two feet from the starting line and the rear one as above. described in a crouched position, while the body is placed on all fours (bending the shoulders forward, with the arms parallel and extended, touching the knee of the forward leg, and placing the hands with the thumbs back). , the athlete lifts the pelvis by squeezing both heels down; the front limb has an angle between leg and thigh of about 90 ° and the rear one of about 135 °. Before shooting, it is important that the athlete focuses attention on the imminent advancement of the hind limb which will facilitate the intervention of the contralateral upper limb on a mass already in motion; the subsequent call of the free limb will facilitate the rapid extension of the thrust one as the arms snap into an adjuvant swing. The arm corresponding to the front leg flexes and does not rise beyond the head, while the upper one is violently projected backwards coordinating with the other leg; the torso does not have to rise immediately, but follow a line almost parallel to the ground to be aligned only at a later time, since the transition from the collected position to the thrown one must take place progressively.


  • The Handbook of the Athletics Coach - First part: general information, races and walking - Study & Research Center - pag. 21:38.

Other articles on "The technique of fast running in athletics"

  1. The rhythm of the race in the training of fast races
  2. Strength training for fast track and field runs
  3. Speed ​​and endurance training for fast track and field runs
  4. Single periodization of training in fast runs - 100 and 200m
  5. Double periodization of training in fast runs - 100 and 200m
  6. Single Periodization Training Fast Runs - 400 meters
  7. Double Periodization Training Fast Runs - 400 meters
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