Alyssa Conley Sprinting Tips

Alyssa Conley Sprinting Tips

Alyssa Conley is a South African sprinting champion; a 2016 Olympian, a 100m & 200m National Champ and a representative of SARTORI and Nike track & field. She is also an ambassador and a good friend of HFPA, so we decided to ask her for some advice on sprinting and she more than delivered!

Growing up in the ’90s, a big part of my week was getting up early on Saturday morning to play in the streets with my friends and cousins. We played all sorts of games; marbles, jump rope, hop scotch and, of course, I wanted to be the best at every game. Losing wasn’t an option for me. I would analyze and create ways of making sure I was victorious… and that’s how my passion for sprinting grew.

I thrived on the feeling of the gun going off, activating everything in me to get a great start with a smooth transition and being the first to cross the finish line. Sounds pretty simple right??? But actually sprinting is probably the most taxing, complex sport I have ever taken part in and OH! Before you debate me on this, I have had my fair share of football, cricket, badminton, volleyball, table tennis, swimming and netball encounters. I wasn’t too bad at any of them, in my humble opinion!

Speed is an absolute game changer. No matter the age or the sport, if they are fast, an athlete can affect the course of any game. The discussion of genetics versus trainability is undeniably no longer a question. The conversation has now become about how to maximize overall athleticism in a young athlete as they potentially gravitate toward what activity they are best suited for, and passionate about.

Educating parents on the basics of the human development continuum often falls on deaf ears. Yes, growth spurts and peak height velocity combined with puberty can wreak havoc on a young athlete’s ability to perform. This is not new information. That being said, how do we increase speed for young athletes; and how does your fitness enthusiast incorporate sprinting into their training programme?

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MY TOP FIVE TIPS FOR SAFER SPRINTING

I get frustrated with many general sprint programme designs available in fitness magazines and online, because they tend to focus on a lot of volume
and distance which the average sprinter has no business doing.

Sprinting is a ballistic, full body movement that generates huge force through the body. That force has to be dialled in gradually, but consistently, to allow your biology to adapt and prepare for future sprinting sessions. Before you rush out to sprint, please read and consider learning from the following five guidelines.


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Quality First

The most important aspect of sprinting is proper technique. Proper technique will not only allow you to get the most out of your sprinting; it will also yield great results and decrease your risk of injury. Form, above all things, must be the focus.

Take your time to learn the pre-requisite drills first.In fact, as you improve in your sprinting practice, you will frequently use the drills as a neural warm up for technique enhancement and general conditioning. Many technical issues and problems can be addressed with the correct applications of the Primal Speed Sprinting Drills.

Less is More

Do not be concerned with quantity in the beginning. Too many newbies believe more is better and rarely is that ever the case. High intensity movements like sprinting must be introduced to the body slowly and gradually, especially if you have little to no background in sprinting and explosive type of sports.

Sprinting is the ultimate expression of human power. For that reason, it must be taken seriously.

The faster you run, the more recovery you will need. There is a direct correlation between higher speeds and longer recovery periods. Elite level sprinters will often take 10 to 25 minutes recovery between sprints.

New sprinters will rarely take extra long recovery times between runs, largely because they are not yet fast enough to warrant it.

Softer Surfaces are Better in the Beginning

I recommend that you find a nice grass area, like a park or a soccer field. It must be free of big holes and hazardous objects. The softer surfaces will be easier on your connective tissues and joints and will not beat up your body as badly as a hard surfaced track.

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Wear Shoes

Yes, I said the evil word, “shoes.” I say this because I am not a big fan of big running shoes, nor do I support wearing shoes all day.

I believe that all humans should spend plenty of time without shoes. This helps to develop the feet and allows them to learn how to operate as they were intended to function. However, when learning to sprint I do recommend that you do wear some shoes for safety purposes.

A lightweight running shoe or minimal shoe is probably best but always use common sense and listen to your body.

Relaxation Versus Tension

Tension in the body is required for absolute strength. Tension is utilised differently while sprinting and performing explosive movements. The tension you find in the body during fast running is to keep the torso and upper trunk stable and to preserve postural stability.

The proper amount of tension will naturally be reinforced when one learns to maintain the sprint position. Too much tension will make you slower and not efficient. I recommend that, when practicing, you do not sprint more than 90 to 95% of your maximum intensity. The problem with sprinting at 100% effort is that you will tighten up. If you sprint at 90% intensity, you will be more relaxed and might actually run faster.

It’s okay to run fast, but you must be intentional about staying relaxed.
Keep the hands, mouth, face and jaw relaxed and NEVER clench those
body parts.

If you find yourself clenching your hands tight and shrugging up your
shoulders towards your ears, you are in danger of injuring yourself
and you most definitely will not run fast. Relax and let the speed
come naturally at its will. Do not force yourself to go
faster…..relax.

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