Importance Of the Takeoff In Any Run Faster Program
In the last section, I briefly went over why the “takeoff” or “launch” is so important in any workout to run faster program.
In this section, I want to go into detail “why” you need to have an efficient takeoff and how it will help you run faster on the track or on the field.
When you compete against someone that runs faster then you in a long distance race, the takeoff is not that important. Instead you have to focus on your endurance and mental toughness to last the duration of the race.
However, if you compete in any short race of 200 meters or less, you definitely need to understand the importance of a fast and efficient takeoff or launch from the starting line.
I put a lot of emphasis on the takeoff throughout this speed training blog because this is pretty much the “only” stage in the race where you have the highest probability and opportunity to outrun your opponent.
How To Run Faster In Football, Baseball, Track,
And Other Short Distance Sports
If you want to learn how to run faster in football, baseball, track or any “short distance” sports where you have a chance to “get set” and position yourself at the starting line before you takeoff, then you have a much greater chance of outrunning an opponent who is faster then you.
How is this possible you may ask?
Well, it simply basic physics…
You see, the normal takeoff or launch distance for most runners lies within the first 10 yards (or 10 meters).
This means that most runners will accelerate to within 80-90% of their full running speed within 10 yards.
If you can reach your maximum running speed in less than 10 yards then this will give you a huge speed advantage in most short distance sports.
This fast takeoff is very useful in most short distance running sports so if you are looking to learn how to run faster in football, baseball or track you definitely want to focus on your takeoff and launch speeds.
A fast takeoff will not have much of an impact in sports where you are constantly moving around and never really get a chance to reset and position yourself for an ideal takeoff such as basketball, racquetball, volleyball, tennis, etc.
In these types of sports of sports where you are constantly moving, you need to have quickness and agility which is a completely different type of skill set which will be covered at a much later time.
How Does Training To Run Faster During The Takeoff
Allow You To Run Faster Than A Faster Opponent?
If you are wondering how training to run faster during the takeoff will allow you to run faster than a faster opponent, then I want you to imagine a scenario.
Imagine for one moment a Ferrari racing against a Japanese sports bike…
Although the Ferrari is much more powerful and capable of running faster than the sports bike in the long distance, we all know that the sports bike can easily outrun the Ferrari in the short distance. Why?
The sports bike’s maximum speed does not come close to the maximum speed of the Ferrari but it can still beat the Ferrari in short distance races because it can takeoff much faster at the starting line.
There are several factors that allow the sports bike to takeoff faster than the Ferrari including:
- Lighter weight.
- Faster response time.
- Faster Acceleration.
- Capable of reaching maximum speed in shorter distance.
- Capable of reaching maximum speed in shorter time.
Due to these advantages, the sports bike is capable of outrunning the sports car in a shorter distance.
When training to run faster during a takeoff, your goal will be to reach your maximum speed in a shorter distance and time than your opponent.
A faster takeoff will give you an edge by allowing you to reach your maximum running speed a few yards ahead of your opponent.
Imagine the advantage you will have if you are in a race where you are already at your maximum speed and your are 1-2 yards in front of your faster opponent.
Obviously, this is a huge advantage.
Now that you understand the advantages of a fast takeoff speed, let’s take a look at the different ways of training to fun faster during the initial takeoff.
Ways To Run Faster During The Takeoff or Launch
Although it may seem like there are dozens of “takeoff” drills and exercises on the market, the reality is that there are only a limited number of ways to run faster during your initial takeoff or launch from the starting line.
Here are the major ways to run faster during a takeoff:
1. Proper Body Positioning – Positioning your body in the right place allows you to eliminate wasted arm and leg motions before you takeoff.
If you know that you will be taking off with your back leg, then make sure the opposite arm is cocked and ready to swing. Do not allow your arm to be in the wrong position and then move it into the correct position after the starting signal.
Most of these drills and exercises should be done slowly, softly and gently so that you can “feel” and “detect” the wasted movements in your body.
2. Proper Weight Shift – Normally when you stand at shoulder width, your weight will be distributed evenly across both feet which allows you to have a 50/50 weight distribution.
Before you takeoff, it’s very important that you know ahead of time which leg is your push off leg. Your push off leg is the leg that you use to initially push off the ground to get your body in motion.
For example if you push off with the left leg, then it is important that you preload this leg with your body weight so that you don’t have to shift it later after the starting signal goes off.
I will cover this portion in more detail later when I talk about how to properly prepare the body for a fast takeoff.
3. Proper Breath Control -Tension is one of the biggest hindrances to a fast takeoff. You always want your muscles to be as soft and relaxed as possible so that the muscle contractions can happen at a faster rate.
You normally want to breath in and out softly and gently when you are positioned at the starting line waiting for the start signal.
During the first step of your takeoff, you want to breathe out “forcibly but gently” to allow a relaxed upper body and torso area. Once the torso is relaxed during the exhalation, the arms can swing at a much faster rate of speed.
Remember, a faster arm swing equals a faster leg swing.
4. Relaxing The Muscles -Breath control is one of the easiest and fastest ways to relax the muscles. The other way to relax the muscles is to use your mind to manually and consciously relax each muscle group in your body.
You can practice relaxing your muscles with your mind at the starting line by mentally starting at the top of your head and slowly and consciously scan your each muscle group in your body and consciously relax them.
For example, consciously scan and “feel” the muscle tension in your face and jaw and relax it. Then move down to your neck and shoulder area and consciously relax it also. Then move down to your chest, abs, hip, thighs, calves, etc.
If you practice this process of scanning your body from head to toe and consciously relaxing each muscle group on a consistent basis, you will be able to instantly relax your entire body at the starting line before a high speed run in just a few seconds.
5. Clearing The Mind – Training yourself to clear your mind before a high speed run is one of the most powerful ways to run faster.
An empty mind can respond and react faster to the starting signal then a mind full of thoughts, worries, concerns, attachments, etc. right before a takeoff.
You will often see athletes wearing headphones or meditate quietly before a race. This is done to clear the mind.
As you can see, there are only a handful of ways to run faster during a takeoff.
Now that you clearly understand the importance of a fast takeoff speed and the different ways to run faster, let’s take a closer look at some of the exercises to run faster during the takeoff or launch.
Exercises To Run Faster During The Takeoff or Launch
To a beginner, it may seem like there are a daunting number of exercises to run faster during a takeoff on the market but the reality is that all the takeoff exercises and drills will usually fall under one of the above ways to run faster.
When people find out that I’m a speed training expert at the gym, I often get bombarded with questions of how do I run faster.
There is so much to learn about speed training so I always like to start off with the things that can improve your speed immediately.
One of the first exercises to run faster during a takeoff that I’d like to teach you is a series of preparation techniques.
These preparation techniques are designed to:
- Position your arms in the correct position for a fast takeoff.
- Shift your weight onto the correct foot.
- Position your breath correctly to relax your body and eliminate and unnecessary tension.
- Position your eyesight correctly so that you stay focused on your target.
- Clear the mind to allow a faster response time.
I will cover all these preparation techniques and much more in the next section, “Ways To Run Faster By Prepping For A Fast Takeoff”.