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Usain Bolt Running Form: Sprinting & Easy Running
What We As Endurance Athletes Can Learn From Usain Bolt.
There are obvious differences between the physical demands of running a marathon and performing a 100m sprint. However, as endurance athletes, it’s improtant to note that there are some technique qualities shown by Usain Bolt in the sprinting clip below which are equally desirable across all ranges of distance and pace. In particular:
- The foot landing under his hips – No overstride, therefore no excessive braking
- The lack of rotation through the torso – No wasted energy through rotation
- The way in which he doesn’t “bounce” at all – No wasted energy through vertical displacement
However there are some sprint specific elements which are not appropriate for distance running. In particular the very high forefoot position sprinters adopt (never allowing the heel to touch after a forefoot strike). Even with forefoot/midfoot striking distance runners, we ideally like to see the heel “kiss” the ground after the initial forefoot/midfoot contact and load.
In this second clip below (of Bolt cooling down) post race, it’s clear to see that while his technique is very different at slower paces, he still shows elements of great running form.
The foot still lands under his hips, but this time (because he’s not sprinting) he allows the heel to touch the ground bringing the foot to a flat position on the ground as he loads fully. There is a little more bounce compared to his sprinting technique. Still he maintains a relatively rotation-free torso and a straight posture.
Although the speed is less, and therefore the magnitude of the movements and the overall stride length is less, he doesn’t revert to a lazy stride and cadence, you can clearly see that he still actively picks his foot off the floor – even at this slow speed – rather than pulling the swing leg through lazily relying on the hip flexors, as we see with so many athletes as lower paces.
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