Implementing drills into your routine, not only gets you thinking about your form but also provides a good warm up, whilst improving your ABC’s (Agility, Balance and Co-ordination). You don’t need to do these drills before every session but they’re a great intro before an intervals or speed session, as the form drills can also help keep you focused on your body during that session, helping to improve form.
These exercises can be done anywhere and they’re all reasonably short so shouldn’t take up too much time before a session.
For all of the exercises keep your head tall and your chin raised, eyes looking forwards and your shoulders relaxed and down (think about a helium balloon attached to the top of your head). This is ideally how we want to be during running (but not always easy when we're pushing ourself or fatigued).
The first few drills aim to warm up the body and increase mobility, whilst the latter really get you thinking about your running form.
Standing Legs Swings
Good for stretching and opening up the hip muscles
Stand facing a wall or fence to give yourself something to balance on, then standing with arms reached out, balanced steady on one leg, swing your other leg crossing in front of your body to one side and back out to the other side. Keep your leg straight. Do 10-15 swings each leg.
Warming up the feet, achilles and calves
Maintaining a tall posture, with nice relaxed shoulders, rise onto your toes and walk forwards, staying on your toes with your toes pointing forwards over a distance of 20ish metres.
Warming up the feet, achilles and calves
Maintaining a tall posture, with nice relaxed shoulders, lift your toes in the air and walk only on your heels with your toes pointing upwards and forwards over a distance of 20ish metres.
Walking Glute Stretch
Great for warming up and improving your range of motion and increasing flexibility of your glutes and hamstrings
Walk forwards slowly for three steps and on the forth step lift up your knee and hug it in towards your chest, pausing and holding it for one second. Do 10 stretches each leg.
Nobody really likes these but they’re great for glute activation and hip mobility, plus strength and coordination
Step forward with a long stride and drop your back knee towards the ground; the focus here isn’t about how far you can stride though, so try to keep your front knee in line with your ankle below, don't let it go over your toes. Maintain a tall posture and keep balanced, if you find you are coming off balance then decrease the stride length. Do 10 lunges for each leg.
STRAIGHT-LEG BOUNDS (OR FLUTTER KICKS)
REINFORCES FOOT STRIKE, ACTIVATES THE GLUTES AND IMPROVES COORDINATION
Keep your feet straight and kick out alternative feet, landing on the balls of your feet with straight legs. You can do these on the spot or spring forward and swing arms. Really try and feel the foot striking the floor and then springing back.
Reinforces midfoot landing, high cadence, focusing on turn over and explosion off the ground
Bouncing on your toes, raise alternative knees as high as possible. You can do these on the spot or move in a forwards direction using a short stride. Continue to move your arms in a running motion, opposite arm to opposite leg, whilst keeping a tall posture. Start off slowly at walking pace and gradually get quicker. Do for approximately 30 seconds.
Improves speed and reinforcing high cadence and focus on leg turn over
Bouncing on your toes, bend one knee and raise your heel as high as possible under your bottom, make sure that your knee stays in a forward position and that the heel remains in a vertical line up towards your bottom, do not kick backwards. Keep your back straight and your core engaged, moving your arms in a running motion, opposite arm to opposite leg or letting them swing by your side. You can do these on the spot or move in a forwards direction using a short stride. Start slowly to get the form right and then increase the speed as you get comfortable. Do for approximately 30 seconds.
With higher knees and heels, we can improve our leg turnover (think about our legs as levers) and improve the efficiency of our running.
INTEGRATION & MUSCLE MEMORY
One great way of really incorporating these drills into your running is to perform the drill for approx 10-20 meters and then turn the drill into a short run straight out of it, it’s a great way of thinking about how the drills feed into your running form. Obviously these drills are exaggerated movements – especially over longer distances you won’t be able to sustain these movements but even small improvements really will help – try it, run 100m and then run 100m incorporating higher knees / heels and getting that quicker turnover, with time you’ll find improvements to your form can help you run faster without increasing your effort.
As with any advice on running or form, please do listen to your body. Do all exercises slowly at first with control and build up into them over time. Watch yourself in a mirror or reflection in a window or even better do them with a friend and checking out for each other.
Most importantly have fun and happy running!
Architect from Manchester
Age group: 35-40
Club: Chorlton Runners