Some simple drills to improve technique and speed while running
According to British Olympic Triathlete and ASICS Ambassador Tim Don, running drills are an important component of the triathlon package because drills are designed to help improve running performance - to help you go faster and place higher. The bottom line in running is that if you want to go faster you either have to increase your stride length or stride frequency, or both! There are some very simple drills which can help you improve both of these and when combined with your regular training program, can help you to run faster.
You should look at including drills in your triathlon workouts at least once a week when you are feeling fresh so ideally at the beginning of a session when you can also concentrate best on keeping good form.
Start off doing two repeats of each drill per session and work your way up to doing four repeats of each drill over a slightly longer distance. Remember you only ever want to practice with good technique. Always remember to remain relaxed when practicing drills as tensing wastes energy that can be used elsewhere, so keep relaxed throughout training and the benefits will kick in at the end of a session or race.
Warming Up and Stretching
No running drills should be attempted before you are properly warmed up. The drills are designed to stretch the boundaries of your running capabilities so warm up for a good fifteen minutes with some easy running and stretch thoroughly.
Make sure your calves and hamstrings are relaxed. If you are stiff or carrying any injuries it may be best to undertake your drills at a later period when you are fully ache free.
Ideally drills should be undertaken on a relatively soft surface - grass is probably best or an artificial running surface.
DRILL 1 - High Knee Running
The aim of this drill is to increase stride frequency and improve knee lift for when you need to pick up the pace.
Start jogging slowly, then when comfortably in your stride increase your stride rate so that you take as many steps as possible over about 20 m or so but with an exaggeratedly high knee action. Bringing your legs up in front of you and maintaining a nice upright posture. The emphasis is not on speed but on maximizing the number of steps taken. You will feel the effect on the front of your hips and thighs so do a few quad stretches after this drill to help loosen your legs up.
DRILL 2 - Bum Kick
The aim of this drill is also to increase stride frequency and improve knee lift for when you need to pick up the pace. Bum Kicks are similar to high knee running but with the emphasis on the hamstrings and the recovery stage of your stride.
Start by jogging slowly then increase your stride rate, aiming to get your feet moving as quickly as you can and swinging your lower leg up behind you. Your heel should literally be hitting your bum. Continue for about 20 metres. This one you will feel in your hamstrings so you may need to stretch them slightly afterwards to recover.
DRILL 3 - Pull Throughs
This drill helps develop timing and power to get your leg in position to power yourself through your stride, and increase stride length.
Going from a walk in an upright position, extend one leg out in front of you like a hurdler, then bring your leg down and through to touch the ground powerfully, directly under your centre of gravity. As your foot contacts the ground, drive up on your toes and swing your other leg forward and repeat. Do about 12 to 15 steps on each leg like this. Do a bit of a jog after each repetition to recover.
DRILL 4 - Bounding
Bounding really helps you to develop your leg power and strength, therefore increasing your stride length.
Start from a slow jog - bounding forward and upwards with a high knee lift. Land on your other leg and repeat the movement. Continue alternating legs. Concentrate on holding good form, keep you head up and drive with you arms, as this will help you keep the whole movement together. Repeat for 8 to 10 steps on each leg. Jog out of each repetition. If you are new to this drill, try to drive too far or too high with each stride. You might also be better to do a smaller number of bounds on each leg, rest, and then repeat.