Updated: Feb 16
Keep these drills in your weekly routine to continually improve your running form, becoming a fast and efficient runner.
Whether you are a short or long distance runner, these drills are designed to engage key components of your body to help you run longer, faster and stronger.
Running form corrections and improvement comes from more than just a few drills. These need to be repeated and worked on consistently, as well as doing specific run related exercises to build strength and endurance with movement through your sagittal, vertical and transverse planes as well as strengthening your posterior chain.
In this article Jamie demonstrates essential running form drills for you to become a strong and efficient runner. A full video displaying the technique required to perform the drills is on our youtube channel and at the bottom of this article.
Before getting started in these running drills, we recommend warming up with a light jog, dynamic stretching and run throughs. This promotes blood flow to the muscles we are looking to work so that you achieve the best range and reduce the chance of any injury.
Drill #1 - Run With High Knees
Focus on a quick transition from one foot to the other similar to running. While firmly planting your support foot on the ground, bring your thigh up breaking through the vertical plan with your foot underneath your hip. As you lower your foot with speed, begin to lift your other foot off the ground focusing on flexion through your hamstring then power in your hip.
Drill #2 - A Skips, Skipping With High Knees
Just like running with high knees, except this time you will skip/hop on the leg before driving the knee up high.
Drive your knee up forcefully, the force you generate will build momentum driving you up off the ground. Do a small skip, landing on the the same foot before bring the foot in flight back to the ground.
Make sure you are landing on your mid to forefoot, allowing your calf and achilles to load and assist in the driving force needed to bring the knee up high.
Drill #3 - B Skips, Skipping with High Knees and extension
Just like the “A” skip, except after driving the knee up, extend the knee forward to full extension. The knee joint will snap back in reaction to the extension, then drive the foot and leg back down with your glutes and hamstrings, pawing your foot to the ground.
Drill #4 - Long Stride Bounds with High Knees
This drill improves power and efficiency. It is exaggerating your run with lots of vertical and horizontal displacement. Try performing on an incline to improve your uphill running strength.
Drill #5 - Butt Kicks
Bring the heel of your support foot up directly towards the bottom of the glutes or top of the hamstrings by using the strength in your hamstrings. Bring the knee forward so the heel is not tracking too far behind the body.
Drill #6 - Hops with side steps
Running is primarily performed in the sagittal plane, but stabilising also occurs in the frontal plane especially for trail runners, adventure racers and obstacle course racers. Side steps require adduction/abduction and coordination and core strength. Hop on one foot then jump sideways, landing on the opposite foot. As soon as your foot weight bears, performa skip then jump sideways in the opposite direction.
Drill #7 - Carioca Drill, Grapevine
Although most running is performed in the sagittal plane, Stabilising is also required in the frontal plane. The carioca or more commonly known as the grapevine drill is a motion requiring adduction/abduction strength, balance and coordination. Cross your trailing leg in front and then behind as you continue in the sideways direction. As you face the same way, move in the opposite direction.
Not only is this beneficial for trail running, you will find benefit in this drill in any type of running journey and race.
While conducting the running drills, Jamie is sporting:
About the author. Jamie is head coach at Run Vault Performance. He is a qualified Personal Trainer and Accredited with Athletics Australia. Jamie delivers tailored run programs to individuals across Australia and overseas and also offers one on one run form review in person and virtually. He also competes in road, trail and obstacle course races and is the 2021 and 2022 True Grit 24 hour obstacle course racing champion.
Reach out to Jamie or the team at Run Vault Performance to discuss your run and performance goals.