What runner doesn’t love a new PR? While speed drills can help you snag one, sometimes taking a closer look at your running form can help, too. Use these 7 head to toe running drills for faster running to make it happen. Not only will your run form improve, but you’ll be bringing some variety into your workouts.
These running drills start off with a look at your posture and building awareness of how it feels to be light in your feet. We’ll then add some movement with leg drills and rotational drills. Put it all together and you’ll have a great start at improved movement patterns when running. With consistent practice, you’re sure to feel more comfortable, run more efficiently, and hit those speed goals.
Once you’ve spent some time on these running drills, check out this post for three running workouts to build speed and endurance!
The foundational position for proper form when running is a strong, supported alignment from head to toe.
Here are some cues to keep in mind:
Once you have yourself standing tall with good form, get rocking!
Try a few rocks to get the feel for this drill. 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 a balance between supporting your body and staying aligned. Don’t get too stuck and rigid though!
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. The higher your cadence, the less ground contact time you’ll have while running. Meaning you’re less likely to plod along slowly (marathon shuffle, anyone?). With a softer impact, you’ll likely feel less beat-down and sore after a run.
A quick cadence and light footfalls come by learning to pick up your feet up as quickly as possible when they hit the ground. To do that we need to practice both pulling and pushing motions.
Practice picking your feet up quickly with this classic running drill.
Once familiar with the drill, start moving forward slowly while lifting. 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 your heels up, using the backs of the legs. Recruiting your hamstrings, instead of your hip flexors, will help avoid early fatigue in your hips while out running. Plus, the hamstrings are an important part of the chain in running, so it’s helpful to practice engaging them in drills.
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!
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. But with too much rotation, you actually lose some of that forward momentum to sloppy arms crossing in front of the body. It’s a matter of finding a balance between too little and too much rotation.
The next drills will focus on that “just right” relationship between your upper and lower body for the right amount of stability for great running technique and efficiency.
Ah, the stable arm drill. Tough but effective! This drill will hone in on what it feels like to have too little rotation while running.
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.
Now try the same 10-20 meter pass but with your hands together, out in front of you.
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.
To finish, we try the opposite of that stable arm drill by adding in exaggerated rotation.
The carioca (also known as the grapevine)is another classic schoolyard drill that is actually a great running drill.
Practice this one regularly to build some mobility in your spine and back, and relax your arm swing.
And that’s it! Our 7 running form drills for faster running! Try incorporating these drills into your training week, either as part of your dynamic warm up before your run, or even by pausing mid-run to wake up your brain and your feet on those weekend long runs.
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