10 SECONDS TO GLORY

A brief analysis of the 10 stages of the 100m sprint

 
by MARK Kovacs, CSCS,ACSM HFI
Editor of High Performance Training
 
Editor's Note: Sprint training has been found effective in burning more calories, to aid in bodyfat loss, and also in increasing naturally your Growth Hormone levels to help in looking and feeling yourger. The stages of running speed are explained here to help, not only 100 meter athletes but also the interval sprint enthusiast, better understand what it takes to run "close" to the perfect race.
The World Championships in Track and Field are fast approaching, and for the first time in decades an Australian, Patrick Johnson, has a legitimate chance of winning the 100m event. It is appropriate, therefore, to outline the 10 stages an athlete goes through to complete the most exciting and anticipated athletic event. The 100m race has an aura about it which is hard to match in any other sporting event. The world record holder is awarded the unofficial title "the fastest person on the planet". This unofficial title increases the mystique that surrounds the race, as well as the sprinter's ego. I have been fortunate enough to have seen some of the fastest people to ever run on this planet, and it is truly a joy to watch technically superior runners.
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THE 10 STAGES OF 100m RACE:

• 1. RACE PREPARATION-
• 2. NARROW FOCUS-
• 3. PRECUING-
• 4. REACTION-
• 5. START-
• 6. DRIVE PHASE- 0-15m
• 7. INITIAL ACCELERATION- 10m-30m
• 8. FULL ACCELERATION- 25-50m
• 9. MAXIMUM SPEED- 40-70m
• 10. SPEED MAINTENACE/DECELERATION- 60m-100m

1) RACE PREPARATION- The minutes after warm-up but before the athlete enters the starting area. This is a vital period to prepare the body and mind for the upcoming race. The athlete's focus should be on the technical and tactical components of the race while stabilizing his emotional level. The athlete is trying to optimize his emotional level to be as powerful and explosive as possible without getting too excited, which can lead to tight muscles and decreased performance. It is also important to remove all negative and unnecessary thoughts that do not relate to speed.

2) NARROW THE FOCUS- The moments when the athlete reaches the starting area, but has not been positioned in the starting blocks. It is essential to narrow the mental and emotional focus by removing the last distractions that might still be present from the "race preparation" stage. Physiologically, it is important to re-activate the nervous system so the body is ready (neurally) to explode out of the starting block. The quickest way to activate the nervous system is to perform quick explosive movements such as tuck jumps or high-knee movements. No more than two explosive movements should be performed; this ensures that the appropriate energy stores are not reduced and can be fully utilized during the race.

3) PRECUING- This is the last stage before the actual timed portion of the race. Any mental or tactical errors must have been eliminated by this stage. Everything must be set in stone, because this is not the time to make adjustments; if ones are needed, it is too late. For a brief moment, the only purpose for the athlete's existence is to be fully focused on one task only - exploding out of the blocks the moment the starting gun is fired.


4) REACTION - This stage takes place in the starting blocks. The athlete responds to the starting gun (stimulus). In the 100m race the gun is the primary stimulus to the athlete. It is an auditory stimulus. The "reaction time" is the interval of time between the sound of the starting gun and the first movement of the body. Reaction time has been recorded for elite athletes between 0.11 and 0.18 seconds. Reaction time can be broken down into two separate components.
Reaction Time
a) Premotor Time - The time between the sound of the starting gun and the time it takes the neural stimulus from the brain to reach the muscle fibers involved. This causes a subsequent increase in muscle fiber activation without visible limb movement.
b) Motor Time- The time from the electrical activation of the muscle fibers involved (end of the "premotor time") till the beginning of the first observable limb movement.

5) START - (While in the starting blocks) The start requires the body to overcome inertia, thereby initiating movement. Three basic laws of physics explain how the body can initiate movement. Newton's first law states that a body at rest will remain at rest unless some force induces a change in the resting state. The start stage requires a combination of explosive muscle contractions which leads to a production of great force. Newton's second law states that the production of force is a combination of the athlete's body mass and acceleration. Once the force into the blocks has been created, the blocks produce a subsequent reaction, which propels the body forward from the starting blocks. This occurs due to the premise of Newton's third law - for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

6) DRIVE STAGE (0-15m)- The drive stage involves the first step out of the blocks and continues for a further two to eight steps (depending on the athlete). Each step in this stage increases in length and the athlete's body starts in a low forward lean position and starts to straighten with each step. It is called the drive stage because the focus is to drive as much force as possible into the ground to produce a transfer of energy from the ground back through the athlete. This leads to an increase in speed of the athlete's movement.

7) INITIAL ACCELERATION (10m-30m)- The athlete's steps continue to increase and the forward lean of the body starts to straighten even further. The athlete is still driving there arms and legs hard and fast in order to achieve great speed and increase stride frequency.

8) FULL ACCELERATION (25m-50m)- The body is still increasing speed, but the hips are starting to straighten and the knees are coming under the hips. This stage the athlete is nearly at maximum speed and is trying to increase stride frequency and stride length. This stage is sometime called "transition", because the athlete is transitioning from an acceleration position (forward lean) to a maximum speed position (straightened body).

9) MAXIMUM SPEED (40m-70m)- This is the portion of the race when the athlete has reached his maximum speed. It takes most athletes between four and six seconds to reach maximum speed and unfortunately it cannot be maintained for long periods of time.

10) SPEED MAINTENANCE/ DECELERATION (60m-100m)- The major aim of this stage is to maintain running speed as close as possible to the maximum speed. Unfortunately, no person is able to maintain maximum speed for long, including the current world record holders in the male and female 100m events (Tim Montgomery and Florence Griffith-Joyner). The goal of this last stage of the 100m race, therefore, is to minimize the deceleration. The greatest way to minimize deceleration is to relax as much as possible and "glide" down the track. "Gliding" refers to the relaxation of the limbs and trying to maintain perfect technique. Too much effort in this stage will lead to muscles tightening, causing the athlete to slow down at a quicker rate.

The 10 stages of the 100m race have been outlined above and they’ll help you understand the complexity and intricate details of the most famous track and field event. Although the race takes less than 10 seconds to complete, it takes the athlete a lifetime to prepare for.

Mark Kovacs, CSCS, ACSM HFI

 

10 Stages
of the
100 m Race

1. RACE PREPARATION
2. NARROW FOCUS
3. PRECUING
4. REACTION
5. START
6. DRIVE PHASE
0-15m
7. INITIAL ACCELERATION
10m-30m
8. FULL ACCELERATION
25-50m
9. MAXIMUM SPEED
40-70m
10. SPEED MAINTENACE/
DECELERATION
60m-100m

 

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