Track and field is one of the most popular school sports for good reason. Not only do participants gain physical strength, agility, and endurance, but they also learn the value of discipline, self-improvement, and setting and achieving personal goals. One of the fundamentals of any track and field event is speed. Whether it’s hurdles or short-distance running, speed is key to taking the gold. Chris David Muggler, an Indian Trail, NC, athlete, and coach, has competed in various sports throughout his academic career and beyond. Here, Chris Muggler explains how to improve speed when competing in the 800 meter.
It’s important to note, Chris David Muggler said, that the 800 is different in elementary and high school compared to college or pro levels. In grade school, it is typically referred to as mid-distance or middle-distance. In college and pro teams, it’s considered a long sprint. The difference in terms, he says, is because the events are approached and evaluated differently depending on the level. This involves the breakdown of the 800 with a focus on speed and endurance in each half of the race, the first 400 m and second 400 m.
Here are Chris Muggler’s key tips to increase speed:
- Drive your knees up.
This is a tip any runner should know. Pick your knees up so your thighs are parallel to the ground on the lift. You can practice this technique by running in place before taking it to the track. Also, make sure your knees are pointed forward, not bending to the sides, as this can result in a slower time and increase your risk of injury.
- Use proper arm technique.
Improve efficiency and aerodynamics by keeping your elbows tucked in and close to your sides. Bend them at 80-100 degrees and keep them in place. Keep them engaged to prevent the arm from swinging across the body.
- Maintain good posture.
Keep your chest up and shoulders back. Never slouch. This provides better breathing and slight momentum.
- Keep hips straight.
Although the torso should be slanted slightly forward, your hips should remain straight. When you get tired, your body may start to slouch so the hips lean to the side or back, similar to a seated position. It may feel more comfortable, but it will hinder your movement. The more linear your body movements, the less stress you have to overcome to move forward.
In addition to the above tips, Chris David Muggler advises athletes to practice proper nutrition, train regularly, and set and achieve realistic, attainable, time-oriented goals for personal improvement and athletic accomplishment. Recalling his time as a college athlete, Chris Muggler says to “become a student of your sport,” study, and avoid procrastinating. Like reviewing materials ahead of time, rather than cramming for a big exam, routine training for track and field events yields the best results.