If we were to name something that every runner should do, even if they didn’t want to, it’d be form drills. Running drills can help improve your form, power, efficiency and overall athleticism by encouraging movement in varying planes of motion.
Drills include a variety of movements that may look a little strange at first glance — like skipping and marching movements. These exaggerated movements emphasize important components of running technique that can be hard to isolate during an actual run.
As with everything in running, it’s important to keep in mind that there is no magic bullet. Rather than using running drills exclusively, they are most effective when paired with other complementary training elements such as runner-specific strength routines, cross-training and workouts including hill sprints and strides, to name a few.
Benefits of Form Drills
Form drills help to:
- improve communication between your brain and legs to help you become more efficient.
- strengthen both the muscles and joints needed for powerful, fast running.
- improve coordination, balance and proprioception to help you become a better athlete.
Over time, all of these benefits can translate into improved speed. When you run more efficiently with greater strength, you’ll finish any distance faster.
Scheduling Running Drills
Form drills are a skill exercise that requires technical focus. They’re most effective when performed after a dynamic warmup routine and some easy running but prior to the bulk of your workout or training session.
Drills are particularly valuable before a challenging workout or race. Here is a suggested order for scheduling drills in this type of scenario:
- Dynamic warmup
- Easy running
- Form drills
- Race or workout (hills, strides, tempo run, repetitions, etc.)
- Easy running
- Strength work
Drills can also be performed during your off-season, even when you’re not running hard workouts or racing. On days when you’re running easy, they can be done after your run.
Keep in mind that form drills are not meant to be done every day — most runners can do drills twice per week for best results. And since running drills are relatively high impact, use caution when beginning to implement them after an injury.
Form Drill Examples
Now you’re ready to try some drills. All you need is 50 meters of space on an outdoor track or athletic field, or on a road (prerace). This video demonstration will show how they’re done:
These are the drills you’ll find in the video along with their benefits. They are listed in order from easiest (1) to hardest (7).
- Butt Kicks (second variation in the video): improves quadricep and hip flexor flexibility while reinforcing high cadence
- High Knees: reinforces midfoot landing, high cadence and hamstring flexibility
- A-Skip: reinforces midfoot landing, high cadence and improves coordination
- B-Skip: improves coordination and hamstring flexibility
- Butt Kicks (first variation): increases hip flexor strength and reinforces midfoot landing
- Carioca: improves coordination and increases hip flexibility
- Straight-leg bounds: activates glutes and improves coordination
Keep in mind that you don’t need to perform all seven of these drills every time. Start with 3-4, and then try rotating through these and others to find what is most effective for your own running.
GEAR UP FOR YOUR NEXT RUN: