Warm Up Running Drills

Below are a range of running drills that can be done as a warm up, either prior to more running specific drills or a running session.

They are an extension in part of the Dynamic Warm Up. Some people will also perform drills prior to a circuits or weights session. Whatever exercise you are doing after drills, it is normally advisable that you do skills exercises when you are relatively fresh.

After warm up running drills, we would suggest most athletes should perform some Running Technique Drills before commencing the main session.

  1. Heel Flicks - Although heel flicks / bum flicks / butt kicks can be performed as an event specific drill, most coaches use this as part of the warm up. To perform it, simply run slowly forwards, taking short strides and flicking your bum with your heels. Your upper leg should remain perpendicular to the floor in this drill and as with skipping you should aim to make as little noise on the track as possible. When performing this as a specific running drill, also try to concentrate on lifting your foot so that the angle between the front of your leg and foot is as small as possible, just after lifting your foot off the floor. Why?
  2. High Knees - We use the high knees drill for two purposes. Firstly, and obviously, to learn to lift our knees up when we are running - many people when running reduce their stride length simply by not doing this. Secondly, it is important when running to try to remain as light on your feet as possible, as this reduces the amount of time spent in contact with the track. During the high knees drill we concentrate on both of these things. As can be seen from the video, the aim is to lift your knees high and "bounce" gently off the track with each stride. Try to ensure that the upper half of your body is leaning slightly forward (attained by bending at the hips and not crouching over) as there is a tendancy to lean back when trying to lift your knees high - this is counter-productive to a good running technique. As you will see, there is no emphasis here on speed of movement, simply running tall and light and getting a good range of movement.
  3. Skipping - Skipping is a perfect example of a warm up exercise, which involves a little bit of co-ordination. By skipping you raise your temperature and therefore muscles, use your legs (particularly your calf muscles) and develop co-ordination. The essential part of skipping is that you take off and land with one foot before repeating the action with the other leg. In other words, skipping is effectively alternating between a hop and a step, before repeating again. To warm up you should do fairly short strides, trying to remain light on your feet, ie. making as little noise on the track as you can. This is particularly true of the "hop" part of the skip as your foot will only move about 30-40cm if you are performing the exercise gently.
  4. High Skips - A variation of this would be to use skipping as a strength exercise where you aim to go as far (and high) on each stride as possible. To do this you will need to drive your knee up, whilst maintain good body shape (ie remaining in control, not flapping your arms etc). It is advisable to do this kind of exercise on a soft surface, eg grass, and only ever do it once a full warm up routine has been completed.
  5. Co-ordination Skips - These are a little difficult to explain. Basically you are aiming to skip down the track - one foot will contact with the ground on each stride, whilst the other one remains in the air as you lift your knee. On the step where both feet are on the ground they should land simultaneously. On each alternate knee lift pull your foot across your body and touch it with the opposite hand. This may not be all that clear - hopefully it will be made more so by viewing the video. Because this is more complicated we have include one view from the side and another from the front. Again with this drill, try to remain light on your feet. Often athletes find this a complicated drill to grasp straight away. It can be broken into 3 steps - firstly take away the pulling of the foot across the body on alternate steps. If this is still difficult, try "hopscotching" down the track - alternating having one foot on the ground and then two. Once the rythmn of this has been accomplished you can start to build up the other elements of the drill.

We will add other drills to this section in the future. These will include high knees, walk throughs, variations on skipping and side runs.