Event Specific Running Drills
These drills are designed both to improve your technique, by the reinforcing repeated optimal movements, and to improve conditioning through these repeated actions.
It is important that you get the movements right, as (to quote a cliche) practice doesn't make perfect - only perfect practice makes perfect. If you need a coach on hand (or online) to help you master these technique, we'll be happy to help.
As you work down through these running drills, you will gradually put all the pieces of the running action together as described in the Running Technique section of the site. Each of these drills will work on an element of your technique, which can be practiced in isolation and then as a concentration on this element whilst doing a full running action.
Running Drills are a really important way of improving your overall running technique, both by helping you improve your technique with the efficiency of movement and also improving your conditioning so your muscles can cope better with the loading being asked of them.
Step Over Drill
Although this is a very simple looking drill, it is one of the harder ones to master. The aim is to use the muscles on the lower front part of your leg to lift your foot and decrease the angle between your foot and lower leg as soon as your foot leaves the ground.
The drill uses very small steps where you lift the foot over the ankle bone before lowering it back to the floor - in terms of range of movement it is similar to that used to pedal a bike.
One way to help athletes achieve this is to stand behind them and ask them to not let you see the soles of their shoes as soon as their feet leave the track, whilst they maintain a running action which is on their toes.
We have included both the side view of this exercise and also one from behind to give you some idea of what you should be aiming at.
Single Leg Drills
In this running drill we are concentrating on just one leg (the other one will just follow - or you'd fall over!). This is a 3 part action, succintly put as "Toe up, Heel up, Knee up". So, as you take off the ground, you lift your foot to create the small angle as above. Then, pull your heel in a straight line up to your backside (this is the quickest route after all). Once it is there, then bring your knee through to the highest position it will reach when you are running - this should be just below the level which would bring your upper leg parallel with the ground.
Once in this position, drop your foot back to the ground and start again.
Straight Legs Drill
At first sight this looks a slightly strange drill, but it is very useful for the two parts of the running action at the beginning and end of each stride. The aim is to run, on your toes, with your legs straight. Keep the upper part of your body straight, but leaning forward slightly at the hips.
We do this running drill for two reasons. Firstly, it teach you to pull your foot up (decreasing the angle between foot and shin - as mentioned before), because if you don't you'll simple stub your toes on the track (and that hurts!).
Secondly, it teaches you to claw back at the end of each stride, by pulling your foot back and therefore you foot contacts with the ground behind your centre of gravity, avoiding the braking action that would otherwise occur.
Heel Flick High Knees Drill + Run Off
This is hopefully where we put all the parts of the running action together. The Bum Flick High Knees are fairly self-explanatory. The action is similar to that of the single leg drill, but you are performing it on every stride. Follow the same routine as before of "toe up, heel up, knee up", whilst the upper part of your body remains relaxed and slightly leaning forward.
When you have run about 30m then gradually turn this into the full running action as this will show you the importance of the first 3 phases.
Learn more / further reading
There are many variations that can be done on these running drills. We will be adding further ones in the future. This will allow you to improve your action and also avoid stagnation, which often comes when athletes go into auto-pilot when performing drills that they have been doing week-in week-out for years, with no concentration at all and ultimately, very little improvement in technique.