What runner doesn’t love a new PR? Use these 7 head to toe running form drills for faster running to make it happen as well as bring some variety to your workouts! Proper running form will make you speedier and prevent injury.
The foundational position for proper running is strong, supported alignment from head to toe.
Stand up tall with ears, shoulders, hips and ankles stacked evenly. Your head should be nice and neutral. Check your chin position by creating a tripod with the thumb and middle fingers, and resting your chin on your pointer finger.
Once you have yourself standing tall, with everything in place, get rocking!
Keep it subtle, and shift hips backward and forward, rocking on to your toes. Lead with your hips, and allow gravity to pull you forward, (but not so far forward you fall!) Repeat that rocking motion, allowing yourself to take a few steps forward as you feel your hips and gravity leading you in that direction. Use that momentum from your hips, and get hopping!
Ever notice how some runners look like they are bouncing along with ease? Hopping drills will put that same springiness into your running. The key is finding balance between supporting your body and staying aligned. Don’t get too stuck and rigid though!
Keep your core, butt and the belly held tight, but your shoulders, your breathing, and ankles nice and relaxed.
With all of that in mind, do two 30-second rounds of small hops or jumping rope, letting your heels gently kiss the ground with each hop.
Running speed is determined by stride length as well as cadence—how many times the foot hits the ground in a given amount of time. Higher cadence comes by learning to lift those feet up as quickly as possible when they hit the ground. To do that we need to practice both pulling and pushing motions.
Practice pulling the knees up quickly with this classic running drill.
Perform these in a progression, starting at 50% of full height, working your way up to 100%. Practice in 10 meter increments. And remember! Keep abs engaged, posture upright and butt tight. It doesn’t take a lot of them to really feel yourself working.
Pulling your knees up is just half of the equation in developing a higher cadence. The other half is pulling those heels up, using the backs of the legs.
Like the high knee drill, start at 50% pull and work up to 100% (bonus points for actually kicking your butt). Again work in 10 meter increments and really concentrate on pulling up from the heels.
In this drill, we combine the high knee and the butt kick to pull the foot straight up along the inseam of your other leg.
To start, try 10 pulls per side. From there, you can mix up your pattern, eventually alternating legs on each pull. The key here is quick turnover!
Make sure not to lean away from the supporting leg as you pull. A tight core will keep you steady.
It’s natural that as your legs drive forward, your upper body wants to counter the motion by rotating back. To stay balanced and efficient, you have to swing your arms. With too much rotation, you actually lose some of that forward momentum to sloppy arms crossing in front of the body.
Take a look at the varying rotations between your upper and lower body for a better understanding of how to stabilize the two in combination.
Ah, the stable arm drill. Tough but effective!
Start by running 10 to 20 meters with your arms lifted straight out in front of you, trying to keep them as stable as possible. Don’t allow them to swing side to side as you run. Do you feel how much effort it takes to resist that rotation? Notice how your cadence automatically quickens and your knees don’t come up as high.
Now try the same 10-20 meter pass but with your hands together, out in front of you. You’ll probably notice again that your stride shortens and your cadence increases, as you resist moving from side to side in your upper body.
For your last 10-20 meter pass, run again with your arms up, hands together in front of you, trying to create as LITTLE lateral shift as possible.
Take note of how much tension you have to keep in your core to resist the twist. You’ll also suddenly appreciate how much easier it is to run with nice loose arms and relaxed shoulders.
To finish, we try the opposite of that stable arm drill.
A deliberate lateral movement where you exaggerate that upper and lower body twist, the carioca is a cross-over drill. Once again, you’ll use 10-20 meter passes to move sideways, alternating between crossing one foot in front of and behind the other. Try this in both directions , letting the upper body rotate to counteract the cross-over from the lower body.
Practice this one regularly to open up your spine, and relax your arm swing.
And that’s it! Our 7 running form drills for faster running! You stuck with us to the end and have 7 new ways to add variety to your workouts and your warm-ups. And speaking of warm-ups, check out Coach Kirk’s warm-up video before your next run.
If you’re looking for more ways to get moving, enjoy 2 weeks of free training with us! Run workouts, strength work, mobility and injury prevention exercises guaranteed to put you on the path to strong, injury-free running!