What To Do To Run Faster Using
The Mind, Body And Breath
In this section, I want to show you what to do to run faster during the takeoff using proper breathing, relaxed muscles and an empty mind.
In the last section, I showed you 2 ways to run faster using correct body positioning and weight shift.
Learning how to position your body and your weight for a fast takeoff are considered “beginner’s level” prepping techniques in the internal martial arts of Wu Chi Chuan.
Now let’s take a look at some “intermediate level” prepping techniques to help your body takeoff faster.
The intermediate level prepping techniques include:
- Training your breath.
- Relaxing your muscles.
- Clearing your mind.
Prepping the breath, relaxing the muscles in your body and clearing the mind for a fast takeoff are considered “intermediate level” prepping techniques because they are “invisible” to the human eye and can only be “felt” and not “seen” externally.
(By the way, in case you forgot, the word “prep” and “prepping” means “to prepare” the body for speed.)
In other words, you can only “feel” the intermediate level prepping techniques. You will not be able to see it physically or externally because it is happening inside your body and NOT outside your body where it can be externally visible to the eye.
Please be sure you pay attention very close attention to the “internal prepping” techniques that I’m about to show you below because it is what separates the pros from the amateurs.
If you practice the prepping skills like I show below, it will shorten the time that is needed for you to reach world class level athleticism.
Let’s take a closer and more detailed look at what to do to run faster using your breath, relaxed muscles and an empty mind.
Ways To Run Faster Using Your Breath
One of the ways to run faster during your takeoff is to learn how to breath correctly. This is highly overlooked area of speed training.
Breathing is the basis for power and speed in all the Asian martial arts.
The internal martial arts such as Tai Chi will spend the majority of their training time practicing their breathing techniques.
In this section, I will not get into the advanced ways to run faster using your breath like the ones that are used in Tai Chi and other Chinese kung fu systems.
I just want to teach you the basic, fundamental breathing techniques that will improve your speed immediately in any sport.
First, let’s take a look at how proper breathing will increase your speed.
- I want you to sit in one place and breath in and out slowly several times and pay attention to how your chest, shoulders, upper back, and stomach will slightly tighten up as you inhale.
- Pay close attention to how all the muscles in your body will relax completely when you are breathing out.
- Your body will feel almost like wet noodles during the exhalation.
A soft and relax body will always produce more speed then a body that is tensed and tightened.
This is the reason why all boxers, mixed martial artists, etc. will breath out and relax their entire body during a strike or a kick.
If you watch a boxer practice, you will notice that the boxer will exhale each time he jabs. This exhalation during the jab allows the upper body to relax and allows the arm muscles to move faster during the jab.
Likewise, you want to do the same thing if you are an athlete looking for ways to run faster.
Now that you understand and feel how your body will tense up during the inhalation, I want you to stand up and breath in and out again and pay close attention to how your body will tense as you inhale, and relax as you exhale.
Once you can feel the difference in muscle tension throughout your entire body as you breath in a standing position, I want you to bend over and get into a 3 point or 4 point crouching position like a sprinter or football lineman that is getting set to takeoff.
Again, I want you to breathe in and out and pay close attention to how your body tenses and relaxes with each breath the crouching position.
Now that you can “feel” the tension and relaxation in your body as you breath in and out, it’s now time for you to combine it your breathing with your takeoff.
It is easier to practice breathing correctly from a standing and slightly leaned over position like a football wide receiver and then slowly stoop lower and lower as you understand how to combine proper breathing techniques with your takeoff.
Once you are in the correct starting position, I want you to slowly takeoff and exhale gently so that your exhalation is in “alignment” and “in rhythm” with your arm swing and leg movement.
In other words, your breath should be in “harmony” with your body movements.
As your arms and legs move forward, your breath should exhale and “move forward” in harmony with the rest of your body.
When you practice this takeoff with proper breath, make sure you “walk through” your takeoff and exhalation.
Do NOT try to do this at half speed or full speed in the beginning because you will not be able to feel if you are breathing correctly.
I recommend you practice taking off slowly and work on getting your breath to exhale at the correct time as your body movements so that your body and breath will be “in tune“.
Once your body and breath are in harmony, then you can slowly increase the takeoff speed until you reach your maximum takeoff speed.
Exhaling the air from your lungs is one of the most powerful ways to run faster during the takeoff.
Now let’s take a look at consciously prepping your body to relax so that you can takeoff faster.
How To Run Better And Faster Using Relaxed Muscles
In this section, I want to show you how to run better and faster by relaxing all the muscles in your body before a takeoff.
I mentioned earlier that a soft and relaxed muscle allows the body to move faster and have more power.
There are many benefits to having a relaxed body during the takeoff including:
- Your body will respond faster to the starting signal.
- Your reaction speed will be much faster.
- You will not waste unnecessary energy.
- You will reduce the risk of injury.
As you can see, there are a tremendous amounts of benefits in having a “soft” and relaxed body during the takeoff.
Now that you understand how to run better and faster using relaxed muscles, let’s take a look at a very powerful technique to relax all the muscles in your body before the takeoff.
The fastest way to instantly relax all the muscles in your body before the takeoff is to do what I call a “mental body scan”.
A “mental body scan” is a mental technique in which you mentally scan and consciously relax the muscles in your body one area at a time from head to toe.
The mental body scan consists of 3 simple steps:
- Scan your entire body with your mind from head to toe.
- Identify any tense muscles.
- Acknowledge the tense muscles and “consciously” relax them.
Let’s do an example of the the mental body scan. You can sit in a chair to do this example.
I want you to close your eyes and scan the areas around your head including your ears, nose, eyes, jaw, neck, forehead, etc.
Identify any tensed spots. For example if you find that your forehead is tensed, then I want you to first “acknowledge” that your forehead muscles are tense by saying to yourself, “My forehead muscles are tensed.”
Afterwards, I want you to consciously relax your forehead muscles with your eyes closed without using your hands to rub or massage your forehead.
If you pay attention carefully, as you consciously relax your forehead muscles, you will notice the tension simply “melt away” in your forehead.
Once you have relaxed your forehead muscles, I want you to scan and consciously relax all the muscles from your head down to your toe.
In the beginning, you can simply focus on just the major muscle groups and relax them.
As you become more advanced at scanning and consciously relaxing your body, you can focus on the smaller and more “hidden” muscle groups.
As you practice mentally scanning your body, it will take a few minutes in the beginning because it is a new exercise.
However, after you have practiced it for several weeks, your body will literally relax instantly on your mental command.
Now that you understand how to run better and faster by mentally scanning and relaxing the tense muscles in your body, let’s now move forward and take a look at how to clear your mind of distractions before the takeoff.
How Can You Run Faster With An Empty Mind?
What does it mean to have an empty mind and how can you run faster with an empty mind?
I first learned the concept of an “empty mind” when I first studied the internal martial arts of Wu Chi Chuan but I did not fully understand the importance of an empty mind until I studied and practice Zen meditation for 6 years.
I learned in Zen meditation that an “empty mind” is:
- A mind that has no distractions.
- A mind that has no attachments.
- A mind that has no limits.
- A mind that does not live in the past.
- A mind that does not live in the future.
- A mind that lives in the PRESENT moment.
What does this all mean and how can you run faster with this empty mind stuff?
When I first started training the martial arts, my instructor asked me to try and punch him in the shoulder as hard and as fast as I can.
No matter how hard and fast I punched him, he was always able to block my jab.
This may not seem amazing to some people but I want you to keep in mind that he had his hands down by his side the entire time while I had my hands up in a boxing position.
Plus, I was facing the side of his face and he was simply looking forward. He was not looking at me directly and could only see me out of the corner of his eyes.
How was it possible that he was able to consistently block every one of my jabs without having to look at my hands with his hands at his side?
This baffled me because it did not make why he would be able to block me that fast.
Afterwards, I learned in my Wu Chi Chuan training that the reason why I was being blocked every time was because my instructor had an empty mind.
When I said that he had an empty mind, that means that he did not anticipate when or how I would strike his shoulder.
This lack of “anticipation” of my move allowed his mind to be free of attachments and distractions.
He was not living in the “future” by anticipating when and how I will strike him.
Likewise, his mind was not living in the “past” by dwelling about the past times that he was not able to block a person’s strike.
In other words, he was simply living in the “present moment” and simply waiting to respond to my move.
His mind was completely empty of thoughts and was not thinking about anything.
The particular state of mind that I just described is called an “empty mind” in Asia.
When you line up at the starting line for a race or competition, it is natural that your mind will start thinking whether or not you will win the race, how your arms will swing, how your opponents will respond to the starting signal, is your body positioned correctly, and hundreds of other things.
All these unnecessary thoughts causes your mind to be “full”.
When your mind is “full”, the time that it takes your brain to process the starting signal, until the time that your brain can send a signal to swing your arms and legs will be lengthened (in time) which slows down your reaction time which slows down your takeoff speed.
This is why it’s important to let go of everything and calm your mind at the starting line.
Imagine a lake that is calm with no ripples and waves. Now imagine your mind so calm and empty that it creates no ripples and waves on the surface.
Training your mind to be empty of thoughts, distractions, attachments, etc. so that you can be in the present moment requires daily and consistent practice of a very simple Zen meditation breathing exercise.
Let’s take a look at how to train your mind to be empty.
- Get into your starting position.
- Focus your eyes on one spot on the ground in front of you.
- Breath in and out as slow as you can.
- When you inhale count “1” in your mind, when you exhale, count “2” in your mind. This is one breathing cycle.
- After you have completed 5 breathing cycles, restart the count all over again.
- There are 5 breathing cycles in one set. Do 5 sets at a time during practice.
- Stand up after each set, shake yourself loose, get back into your starting position, then do another set.
- If you forget what breath you are on at any time, simply just back at “1”.
The key to success with this exercise is in your breathing. Your mind follows your breath.
The slower you breath, the more your mind will calm down and let go of any thoughts, attachments and distractions.
Your mind will become empty and you will be in the “present moment“.
When your mind becomes empty and not committed to any unnecessary thoughts, your response to the starting signal will be much faster which will increase your takeoff speed.
You can practice this exercise every day without being overtrained.
Summary Of What Can I Do To Run Faster During The Takeoff
In the last few sections, I have addressed the question, what can I do to run faster during the takeoff or launch by prepping your body in 5 different ways.
The 5 different types of preps are divided into:
- External Preps
- Internal Preps
The external preps include learning how to:
- Properly position your body.
- Shift your weight.
The internal preps include learning how to:
- Breath correctly.
- Relax the body.
- Empty the mind.
If you practice the prepping techniques I showed you and use all 5 ways to run faster, you will definitely see an explosive increase in your ability to takeoff faster from the starting line.
I have used these prepping techniques from the internal martial arts of Wu Chi Chuan to help many clients who have asked me, “What can I do to run faster during the takeoff?”.
Likewise, if you use these ways to run faster in your training, you will have no choice but to increase your takeoff speed and crush your opponents and annihilate the competition at the starting line.
Now that you understand how to increase your takeoff speed, let’s now take a look at the “acceleration” component of your speed training.