Loren Seagrave works with the best. As the director of speed and movement at the IMG Performance Institute, Seagrave trains top Olympic sprinters, including LaShawn Merritt and Angelo Taylor.
To shave his athletes’ times, Seagrave sticks to the basics.
“You can get huge gains by doing simple things well, rather than trying all of the latest fads,” he says.
Seagrave took the time to bust a few myths about common speed training practices.
Myth 1: Run on your toes
Seagrave: It’s actually the opposite — you want to curl your toes toward your shin. This allows you to use your foot like a springboard and store energy in your calf muscle. It will explode your body forward and get your leg to the front sooner.
Myth 2: All speed training products help you run faster
Some of the various paraphernalia does benefit, but there are also risks that you must be aware of before you use it. Specifically, this includes products that put a lot of stress on your ankle. Too much volume isn’t necessarily the best thing.
Myth 3: Conditioning is the same as speed training
Speed training is high-intensity bursts with very short duration and long rest recovery. You need to rest the nervous system so that it recharges. When the nervous system becomes tired, you can’t generate the power and coordinate the movements. You want to keep your effort to 4-5 seconds at 30-40 yards.
Myth 4: Lifting automatically means an increase in speed
It’s not enough. Olympic lifts like power cleans are explosive and dynamic. You need to combine those with jumps and bounds to transfer strength gains from the weight room onto the track.
Myth 5: A high back kick is necessary to run faster
In the acceleration or the speed phase, you need to pop the thigh forward immediately off the ground. You don’t want to leave the leg behind the body. Athletes wind up letting their thighs dangle behind their body so that they have a high back kick.