hobby sprinter wrote:
In December, I got a speed sled to work on my power and acceleration. I also looked into doing deadlifts and squats, but decided that the risk of injury was too high since I would have to learn them from scratch and didn't have anyone to watch my form.
...I also Googled "block settings" and "how to use blocks". Attempts to actually practice with them mostly proved unsatisfactory.
About 3 years ago, I decided to experiment with my routine (I'm almost 70) to get rid of some nagging injuries and get back some speed for my primary race, the 800m. I trained for two years to run the 400m. Here are some things I learned that might help you.
Put your camera on a tripod and video your sled and block starts. The sled should have no more than 30% of your body weight. The sled will help you get into the proper position for the first few strides instead of "popping up" like most novices.
You have to "load" your muscles to get a good block start, in my opinion. Your hands provide resistance to keep you from taking off. In other words, your legs are already tensed and pushing forward. Your hands are holding you back. There's a starting block app to test reaction time. Use it.
Keep playing around with block position. Closer. Farther apart. Different leg ahead. You'll find a sweet spot that feels better. When you find it, write it down so you can recreate the exact position every time.
You are correct that you would most likely get injured with learning proper technique for the lifts. I found a personal trainer to teach me proper form.
In my opinion, once you learn technique for the start and the lifts, the lifts will give a novice the greater improvement in time. Maybe some coaches can chime in on this. I could be wrong. Plus, it's easy to get injured practicing block starts.