Pushing as long as possible vs. Getting the feet down faster.

Don’t do that. You will run slower. Try to get the feet off the ground but put power into the track. When u consciously try pushing long u stay on the track longer and run slower. I’ve tried both. Lol did the long contact at a meet. Didn’t work out

[QUOTE=Chris6878;243987]Don’t do that. You will run slower. Try to get the feet off the ground but put power into the track. When u consciously try pushing long u stay on the track longer and run slower. I’ve tried both. Lol did the long contact at a meet. Didn’t work out[/QUOTE

LOL I understand, but I wasn’t talking about doing this during maximum velocity. I was only talking about the early stages of acceleration. Maybe I need to go ahead and test it out today.

I appreciate you input! Thanks

Your arms control your legs. Pump the arms, and the rest should take care of itself. To the extent you are even aware of your legs, simply step straight down. The great irony that Charlie always pointed out was that as you get stronger and faster you actually lose the sensation of pushing against the ground. Charlie’s main cue for running a race from the blocks was flick the wrist and pump the arms.


im talking about out the blocks. first 30. After that if you decide to stay on the ground you will get the bizness.

throughout the whole 100m it’s a delicate compromise between pushing right through and getting your feet off the ground. If you have the flexibility to extend the hip properly your body may eventually find it’s niche in this compromise. You certainly don’t want to be forcing hip extension, this is when you will run slower.

When I see a lot of elite sprinters accelerating, my impression is they are getting their foot down as quickly as possible. I think that in order to do that you have to impart a lot of force, so you get a combination of both. The pushing comes as a side effect of getting your foot down fast, but the forwards emphasis reduces the chance of wasting time by pushing harder and longer than you need to.

Didn’t Charlie say you sprint over the track, not on it? I think he also said it should be fast, not hard. Opposite of … Something…

Be careful when studying the technique of top sprinters and then trying to emulate it. You can easily fall into a trap because there’s a big difference between how it looks and how it feels. This is the single most important thing I learned from my brief training time with Charlie. Simply step down. All you should feel are your legs moving up and down in front of your body. The rest happens too fast to feel it (or at least it should). It almost feels like you’re just stamping your feet up and down.

Same thing with arm drive. Pull the arm down in front of your body, not back. Think vertical motion with the arms and legs.

I do understand this point. Are you a member of elitetrack.com? Most of the teachings are that of pushing the ground. Also Tom Tellez teaches this too and many other coaches. Do you believe their athletes would have been faster if they followed the teachings of Charlie Francis?

I’m not on elitetrack. I don’t think it’s a question of following anyone’s teachings. It has more to do with what the correct technique feels like. How you get there might require different coaching cues for different people. You’d have to see how a particular athlete is running and know that person before you can settle on an appropriate cue. But no matter how you get there, the less time you spend on the ground, the less you’re going to feel the ground. I seem to recall Charlie mentioning a few times that as young sprinters get faster and begin to feel the ground less, sometimes they panic and try to push harder against the track to get back that feeling of power. That’s what you want to avoid. In one of his videos (I think it’s Vancouver 2002), he mentions Angella Issajenko walking over to him in tears after he had just timed her in a PB. When he asked her what was wrong, she said “I can’t feel my legs.” And Charlie replied, “That’s what it’s suppose to feel like.” After that, she was fine.

Think of weight lifting. When you first start, you might warm up with an empty bar (45lbs). Then you might load it to 95lbs. In the beginning, you feel a huge increase in load. Fast forward to when you can lift 300. At that point, you can barely tell the difference between an empty bar and 95lbs. In sprinting, you’re dealing with a relatively constant resistance (bodyweight). Therefore, as you become more powerful and faster, it will feel easier to propel that weight.

Wow that made a lot of sense Flash. I really appreciate the time and effort you put into writing this post. As you know being an athlete can be confusing as heck sometimes. I knew this made sense, but sometimes I just get confused about what really works and what doesn’t. Maybe a lot of what each of these coaches are teaching is the same, but they just have a different way of conveying it with their athletes.
Thanks again for that point I really needed that!

This is the danger of simply reading online what so and so does or says to his athletes. Without knowing the specific context and the underlying logic of the cue or method, you can easily misinterpret it and do more harm than good. Don’t just look at what particular coaches do, try to understand why they do it. It might be a great method or technique within the context of their overall system and the needs of that athlete at that time, but it might not be appropriate for you.

Flash, I’m not sure if you were suggesting I was wrong, because what you described seemed similar to what I was trying to say. Or am I missing something?

Another thing I remember Charlie explaining was that the amount of time it takes to put all of your strength into a step is too long and would result in longer contact times, hence slowing you down. I think that’s part of that mindset that power comes as a result of running fast, not something you should aim for in order to run fast…

I think your observation of technique is correct. I was simply pointing out the danger of someone using that description as a coaching cue or self cue. That was the mistake I used to make. I had watched and read about proper sprint technique and then tried to feel that when I ran, which resulted in exaggerated movements. Like I said, it feels different than it looks to an outside observer.

That makes sense. :slight_smile:

I have my own set of cues that describe how I feel when I run at my best, not that I’m exactly elite, or anything…

This is from my own research and experience;
pushing till you have triple extension would feel slow but you are actually

  1. putting your body into the right position to continue your drive/push,
  2. also you are actually moving faster through space with every step, and
  3. it allows you to continue accelerating down the track.

Getting the feet down faster is also part of the acceleration but only works if pushing is done correctly. Without the pushing element done correctly you will feel that you are actually running faster but travelling slower through space compared to the other method, and also you would reach top speed faster in the race thus having to do a longer speed maintenance to the line.

Thanks for the reply! I really appreciate you giving some feedback and you perspective on things.

My .02…using push as a cue made me slower in acceleration. I can’t remember how much but it was significant. The best cue for me has been pump the arms vigorously. That’s what has given me the best times. I’m not particularly fast so it may be different for others.

Thanks I appreciate your response.

Great discussion and something we have been investigating…one needs to think about impulse (the area under the force curve)…there are 2 ways to derive the same amount of impulse…(1) high force in a short time, and (2) lower force over a longer period. In addition, one needs to consider the foot placement and lower limb position that provides the greatest amount of “impulse”…high forces but not spending all day on the ground.

Of note, we have had some interesting results measuring ground contact times, flight times, and overall times when one thinks of pushing long or focusing on slightly reduced GCT through the removal of complete triple extension…not chopping, just normal acceleration patterns. Using opto-gaits (I know validity can be issue…but this is not in a lab or for research purposes)…we have seen over and over again that an athlete is much more efficient when not thinking about pushing for as long as possible.

Usually when the athlete have enough strength and reactive strength, the triple extension happens without you notice It at all.