Coach Jenni on Running Drills

For me, I enjoy the simplicity of running.  I love throwing on a shirt, a favorite Lululemon shorts, my bright pink Asics, plugging into music that fits my mood and heading out to explore my community. It’s makes sense that if you would like to get stronger and faster, you need to run consistently.  We do the MAF workouts.  We add in some hill repeats.  We run long on the weekend.  But where are the drills?

Unfortunately – and I am as guilty as the next person – most runners neglect running drills. If you look at the training plans of most professional runners, they complete running drills at the beginning or end of their runs at least 2-3 times a week.  Running drills are designed to help perfect running technique and form.  It also contributes towards efficiency and reduces the risk of injury.  Running drills are not prescribed in isolation but form a useful bridge between strength training and form work. The stronger your form is, the faster your can run for longer periods of time without breaking down.  Weekly running drills can also help strengthen specific muscle groups needed for running, especially the muscles of the feet, legs, back, and core. They also help prepare the ankle, knee and hip joints for the specific range of movements required during running.  Here are some of the most common running drills:

BUTT KICKS: The butt kick drill engages the hamstrings, accentuates the recovery portion of the running gait and improves leg turnover (cadence).

HIGH KNEES: The high knees drill accentuates knee lift as well as glute and hamstring power which contributes to powerful and efficient leg drive.

BOUNDING: The bounding drill increases foot, calf and hamstring muscle power and develops single-leg stance stability necessary to maintain fluid running form while fatigued.

GRAPEVINES: The grapevines drill loosens hip flexors and glutes, increases hip, leg and gluteal mobility, and also helps develop lateral strength in the hips.

SKIPPING: The skipping drill helps strengthen your hip flexors, improve your flexibility, and lengthen your stride.

STRIDES: Strides are best done as a transition between the warm-up and the work part of the workout.  Strides increase your running economy by reinforcing proper running form and contribute to improved leg turnover.  When done barefoot and in small doses, foot and lower leg strength will improve with small risk of injury.

After winning Boston, Meb Keflezighi  was interviewed by Running Times.  He admitted: If it wasn’t for form, I don’t think I would have won. I think about my feet, where they’re going to land. My hips, knees, legs, arms, neck. Where my head should be positioned. Where my chin should be going uphill, downhill.

Now go do your drills!