Simple Form Drills For RunnersBy Jeff Horowitz,
Metro Sports Washington D.C
Can Clean up
Your Running Form and Efficiency
I have always thought that running must be one of
the easiest things in the world. After all, weve been doing it since we were 3
or 4 years old, so by now we should be pretty good at it, right?
After more than a decade of marathon racing, I had
come to consider myself a pretty good runner. Then a respected track coach took
a good look at my running form, and he told me about all of the things I was
Apparently my foot strike was off, I had too much
lateral movement, and my arm swing was incorrect. By the time he was through
with me, I began to think it was a miracle that I could even walk.
But there was hope for me yet. By breaking down
the running motion into distinct movements, and practicing drills to improve
those movements, my form and my speed improved. You too can achieve the
Here are five drills that will improve
anyones form. Each of them strengthens a particular muscle group and
improves the movement of the body through the running motion.
Before you start your next training run, pick a
straight stretch of road about 50 meters long, or better still, go to a local
track and do these after youve had a complete warm-up and stretch.
Plan to do each of these drills two to four times,
taking only a short rest of 30 seconds between repeats of each drill.
1. Butt kicks
Just as the name implies,
this drill involves trying to kick your own butt with each step. Taking short
steps, kick your heel back and up as high as you can. This drill improves heel
recovery, which is the part of the running motion where your leg rises up and
coils for the next forward stride. This drill also strengthens the hamstrings,
a primary muscle group used in running.
2. High steps
This drill involves
taking short steps and picking your knees up as high as they can go. Think of
the way those Clydesdale horses on the old Budweiser commercials used to
prance. This drill strengthens the calves and hip flexors, and emphasizes
proper running posture and the lift-off phase of running.
3. High skips
Everyone feels silly
doing this at first, but believe me, it works. Swing your arms strongly and
skip as high as you can. This drill helps build explosive power in your running
stride, and it will help you climb hills and finish strong in your next
4. Stiff-legged running
your knees as straight as possible. It helps to imagine that youre a Russian
folk dancer. This drill will strengthen the hip flexors, which is the area
where the bottom of your abdomen meets your leg a muscle group thats crucial to
the running motion.
Think of these as
slow-motion sprints. Dont run all-out; just run easily, but with the form you
would use in sprinting. This drill gives you an opportunity to see how your
body is moving during hard running, and gives you a chance to correct any
problem areas you might have in your form. It also prepares you body for the
next phase of your workout your actual distance run by lengthening the
Do all of these drills at least once a week.
Theyll only take a few minutes, but they work for elite runners, and
theyll work for you.