In running, a kick refers to the ability of some athletes to sprint at the end of an endurance-oriented race. It is a strategic weapon for those who possess the ability to kick. For those who do not possess a kick, they must seek different strategies to anticipate and diminish their opponent's kicking power, usually by a long extended surge to break away or exhaust their opponent well ahead of the finish line. The techniques to train to kick are a common discussion among runners and coaches. Notable kickers include Fermín Cacho, Sebastian Coe, Eamonn Coghlan, Alberto Cova, Haile Gebrselassie, Shelby Houlihan, Ezekiel Kemboi, Bernard Lagat, Douglas Lowe, Billy Mills, Steve Ovett, Jim Ryun, Peter Snell, Miruts Yifter, Nick Symmonds, and Cole Hocker.
HERE’S WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT A RUNNERS KICK
- When to Kick: It typically happens in the last part of the race, like the final 200-400 meters of a mile race or the last stretch of a long-distance event. By this time, runners are usually tired and have spent much of their energy.
- How It's Achieved: The kick involves both physical and mental techniques. Physically, it might mean engaging lower body muscles more intensively or adopting a more aggressive stride. Mentally, techniques like visualizing the finish line or drawing motivation from the crowd can be crucial.
- Training for the Kick: Regular training and muscle conditioning are important to prepare for the exertion of a kick. Runners often practice their kick timing and strategies to perfect it for race conditions.
- Timing and Strategy: The effectiveness of a kick depends on timing, which is why runners plan it carefully. Factors like the race terrain, weather, and obstacles are considered in planning the kick.
- Benefits: Beyond the potential to improve race outcomes, kicking offers a sense of achievement. It requires drawing on deep reserves of strength and focus, which can be fulfilling for runners.
In summary, the kick is a vital tactic in a runner's strategy, representing a final push of speed and effort at the end of a race. It combines physical strength, mental fortitude, and strategic timing. With practice and conditioning, it's a skill that runners can develop and refine, enhancing their performance and racing experience.
Some techniques to improve the kick in running include:
- Pumping Arms: Focusing on pumping the arms and moving them linearly can help improve the kick. Moving the arms forward and backward while keeping the hands from swinging too much can contribute to a more powerful kick.
- High Knees and Straight-Leg Raises: Practicing high knees and straight-leg raises can help improve leg drive and knee movement, which are essential for a strong kick. These drills can enhance neuromuscular coordination and strengthen the muscles involved in the kicking motion.
- Core Engagement: Keeping the core engaged while running can help with knee movement and stride length, contributing to a more efficient and powerful kick.
- Single-Leg Hops and Split-Squat Jumps: Performing single-leg hops and split-squat jumps can help boost the finishing kick by improving muscle recruitment and base speed. These exercises contribute to the ability to close hard on tired legs, which is essential for a strong finish.
- Consistent Practice: Consistent practice of proper running form and application of the techniques mentioned above can lead to better neuromuscular coordination, stronger muscles, and improved running economy, ultimately enhancing the finishing kick.
By incorporating these techniques into training, runners can work on developing a more powerful and effective kick for the end of races.