You just heard the starting gun of the race, you're angled 45 degrees, driving your legs and doing great. Now what? After the first few strides, gradually lean up with your torso so there's a 5 degree lean. Your stride length and frequency should hit top gear. Your eyes should be focused straight ahead. Within 20 meters you should have some of these technique points:
Having a great start doesn't make or break a race. But it really helps. this is where muscle strength and power make a big difference. However technique is still key. The main points to accelerating quickly (in running or any sport):
Growing up everyone had that one gym classmate that could just burn you in a race. You always heard a common phrase from teachers and coaches: 'You can't teach that speed'. This is true to an extent, but my belief is that these kids just have a knack for the fundamentals of running fast. Some of these techniques can still be taught. As a refresher from the last running series: running is a simple formula:
SPEED = Stride Frequency X Stride Length
If you look at the 100m dash finalists, they're all different heights, weights and muscle sizes. Each has found their own way to manipulate the number or length of their steps to be lightning fast. The legend Usain Bolt for example has a big advantage with his monster leg length. He only needs around 40 steps for the 100m dash!
All this speed comes at a cost. The faster you run the bigger the muscles you end up using the more energy you use. For example when sprinting you're using more glute max and hamstrings; whereas jogging you use more calfs and lower leg muscles. But a lot of the same rules apply as jogging:
Before we even get into testing flexibility, the question is: does it matter? The simple answer is yes, but as I'll explain it depends on what you need that flexibility for. To test it:
A good level of flexibility is hitting around 90 degrees straight in the air. But I find it alright if someone gets to 80 degrees depending on their sport and activity.
But when I do this test what I really look for is on the opposite die. When the leg goes up , what's the pelvis doing? If there's a lot of tilting and bending happening, this is more my concern. It means in a functional task like a soccer kick or sprint you're probably compensating and don't have TRUE flexibility of that hamstring.
For movement geeks it means you have poor extension or tight hip flexors on the opposite side. It can also mean poor hip mobility on the same side.
Hamstring 'inflexibility' is related to injury (Clarke, 2008). But it depends on WHY inflexibility is happening. You can't just stretch your hamstrings forever, you have to address core stability issues, other muscle balances as well.
Do this simple test yourself, do you have good active hamstring flexibility?
Milner Chiropractic and Sports Injury Clinic