While I’ve never fully understood a runner’s mentality, improving one’s sprint speed, or the explosive strength used to change direction, completely makes sense to me — even more so when I saw how close the competition is at the Olympics. (The guy who came in 4th place in the 100 meter dash was only 0.12 seconds slower than Usain Bolt.)
I don’t know that I would strap myself to a harness or allow myself to be pulled to a faster running speed, but some of these methods are easy to implement and have been shown to improve sprinting times. And depending on the level of your competition, every second counts.
Will overspeed running help me?
With margins in elite competitions getting smaller and smaller — Usain Bolt won his gold medal in Rio by running the 100 meter dash 0.08 seconds faster than Justin Gatlin — many advanced athletes, particularly in track and field, are constantly looking for ways to grow stronger and improve their times.
Overspeed training is one way that runners (and other athletes) try to strengthen the muscles used in short bursts of movement, by using some type of external assistance to run faster than one normally would run, about “8% to 13% faster than the athlete’s fastest speed.” Daniel Butler, a clinical exercise specialist at the Take Charge Fitness Program, a wellness facility run by Clinton Physical Therapy Center (a Physiquality network member in Tennessee), explains that there are several ways to do this. Tail wind running is the simplest method, running with a wind at your back. Similarly, slight downhill running is running down a hill with a slight grade. (A study in 2008 used NCAA sprinters to determine the best grade of hill for improving sprinting times; the authors concluded that a hill with a grade of about 5.8 degrees was optimal for improved performance.)