American world record-holder and favourite for gold in Birmingham explains the process behind running faster than everyone else
Ask Christian Coleman the key attribute to running 60m in what almost seems like the blink of an eye and his answer is not the one you might expect.
“You have to stay patient,” says the man who recently covered the distance in a world record time of 6.34 at the US trials and goes into the IAAF World Indoor championships in Birmingham as the clear favourite for gold.
To the uninitiated the short sprint would appear to be a simple matter of getting a good start and forcing yourself down the track as quickly as is humanly possible.
As Coleman, the fastest man on the planet over 100m outdoors last year in running 9.82 and the world silver medallist, points out there’s a little more to it than that.
“You don’t just want to get out the blocks really fast and it’s all ‘run, run, run’,” says the 21-year-old. “The start is a huge part but not as much a you’d think because not only do you want a good reaction, a good drive phase and start but you want to execute it well so that you are able to transition into your top end speed and be in a good position to finish.
“You want to get out of the blocks nicely and to be patient in your set-up.
“The 60 is so short you think ‘I just want to get out the fastest and try to get away from everybody as quickly as possible’. But you can’t execute it like that – you’re going to end up not running as quickly as you could have if you’d stayed patient and got on top of it. The whole process should be really smooth.”
“There’s a lot that goes into running that sort of time, technically, that can make you or break you. I’m still learning it all myself”
There are many elements to get right and Coleman insists part of the fun when it comes to his chosen event is that there is simply no margin for error.
“There’s a lot that goes into running that sort of time, technically, that can make you or break you. I’m still learning it all myself,” he adds.
“The margin of error is so little. If you do just one thing wrong – say, not get out of the blocks as quickly as you did in practice – that can just throw off your whole race.”
He adds: “It’s very hard (to stay patient) and that’s one thing that I’m still learning to do. It’s an ongoing process for me to learn that, during competition, when the gun goes off you don’t just panic and think ‘run, run, run’. You have to make sure you do everything right.”
Coleman is part of a remarkably strong American team which looks set to dominate these championships. On paper, it looks like his main threat is likely to come from Ronnie Baker, who ran 6.40 in finishing second at the trials.
The NCAA champion adds: “I go into every race with the same mindset, with a killer instinct and wanting to win. Of course it’s a different thing to execute – the 60m is very different from the 100m – so I just focus in on the things that my coach and I will have talked about and when you get in that moment you just try to execute.”
» Read an exclusive interview with Christian Coleman as part of Athletics Weekly’s in-depth IAAF World Indoor Championships preview. The magazine is out on March 1