Running drills can help you run better if you practice them. That is the key! If practiced on a regular basis you will notice improvements in your running form, technique, and efficiency. This can help you to run with greater ease, especially if you are into distance running. The drills in the video below can be used by a beginner to seasoned runners training for any distance.
Side skipping helps to improve hip stability by strengthening abductors and adductors. Keep toes forward and skip side-to-side allowing arms to swing naturally.
CARIOCA / GRAPEVINE
The carioca, or grapevine, also works the stabilizing muscles that play a secondary but important role in running. As you move sideways, cross one leg over the other in front and then behind. Allow arms to swing naturally for balance or hold them straight out from your side (T-shape).
STRAIGHT LEG RUN
The straight leg run drill reinforces the pawing motion which is a key element of a powerful stride. It helps to propel you forward. Key your body perpendicular to the ground as you run with straight legs. When your foot hits the ground, paw the ground with a pullback motion while squeezing the glutes and hamstrings.
This drill works the loading phase of the run. Focus on driving the foot down and letting it spring back up off the ground as opposed to lifting the knees. Use the same arm motion as you would in running.
The A-Skip recruits the primary movers for running – glutes and hamstrings. Here you want to focus on high knees and slightly pawing the ground as you pull backward to propel forward. Use the same arm motion as running.
Butt kickers help to fire up the hamstring for a strong running stride. Focus on kicking the heels up to kick your butt. Use the same arm motion as running. Work to increase speed over time.
This drill helps facilitate the proper loading and spring during running. It also helps increase the range of motion in the ankle joint and condition the calves (gastrocnemius and soleus). Start at the toe and push your foot down until the heel barely touches the ground. Start slow and gradually build speed.
The B-Skip also recruits primary movers for running. However, it can be difficult to master and I see my clients struggle with this one more than any other drill. Start slowly, focus on the legs first, then add arms later. The extension of the leg is important as it dynamically stretches the hamstrings and then allows you to overemphasize the backward pawing motion as your foot hits the ground and pulls through.
Unfortunately, the arm swing is underestimated and commonly neglected by runners. It is important to create balance, rhythm, cadence, and help propel you forward by tapping into the body’s natural spring. Practice in front of a mirror with a metronome set to 90 cadence for one arm (180 BMP total for two arms). Keep shoulders relaxed, bend at the elbows, and allow arms to swing naturally from the shoulder joint.
Start with shorter intervals of 5 – 10 seconds. Take a 30-second break and then repeat for 2 – 3 times. Pick one drill at a time instead of several. Do these during the warm-up of every single run. You can also use these on non-running days as a cross-training routine for running.
TIPS FOR EXPERIENCED RUNNERS
For experienced runners who want to improve their running form and efficiency, use the drills 2 – 3 x per week. Pick at least two or three drills and work at them until you perfect the movements. Then move on to another drill. Some movements you may be able to nail on the first try while others take weeks in order to perfect. Concentrate on your weak areas first. Start with 10 seconds and work up to 30 seconds continuously, holding strong through the entire set. Rest one minute in between each drill so you start nice and fresh. Repeat the drill 4 – 6 times. You can also use these during your running warm-up, on active recovery days, and for cross-training workouts.
Even after you master these movements, continue to use the drills in your run training as they not only help with increasing efficiency but also create better balance in the body. Many of the drills strengthen secondary movers to help increase stabilization of the hips, knees, ankles, pelvis and spine while running.
If you love these drills but need more motivation to get up and running, check out my article on 5 Tips to Get You Up and Running.
If you found this information useful, please comment below. I’d love to hear what drills you are currently practicing.