In a previous post, we described the purpose of and when to use hill and flat strides. In this post, we are going to review form drills, and how they can fit into your running routine whether you plan to incorporate speed work or just want to become a more efficient runner.

What are running form drills?

Form drills are designed to help you improve your range of motion and learn movements for running faster. Good form helps prevent injury while making you feel faster and more powerful during any run.

There are many other form drills you could do – this is the set that the LRC will use for track workouts.

Who should do them?

Form drills are not just for the high school/collegiate or pro athletes. We’ve probably all seen a group of lithe young bodies doing complicated maneuvers in unison and thought — “I can’t do that”!

In addition to the fear of injury because of not knowing how or where to start, doing anything new “out in the wild” in front of an audience is scary.

Try to set your panic aside, because we’re all thinking the same thing, and let’s try some new stuff.

When should I do them?

It’s hard to focus on form and cues for any length of time — and especially not during a hard workout or race. You can do these drills before a speed workout or before/after any easy run. And just like the strides workout, you get the most benefit when you do them multiple times each week.

You’ll need about 5 minutes to complete the series — give yourself more time in the beginning.

In all of these drills, meet yourself where you are. You don’t have to go as fast or as high or as hard. Focus on staying tall, and be concous of leaning forward or backward. Building strength, range of motion and coordination takes time and patience. Be willing to laugh at yourself and keep trying.

To demonstrate each drill, we are using 10-15 second video clips from Steph Bruce, a professional distance runner for HOKA NAZ Elite, and Matt Holton aka Maui Runner. Both have been practicing these drills for years, so we don’t expect anyone to duplicate these on the first try.

Drill 1 – Arm Rotations

Running isn’t all about legs. Don’t forget to loosen up your arms and shoulders since they are just as important to running as your legs.

While walking or skipping lightly, rotate arms forward and backward. One set in each direction with both arms moving together, and one set in each direction with arms moving like a windmill (opposite).

Drill 2 – A-Skips

It is skipping, but not the “Skip to My Lou” kind from elementary school.

A-Skips focus on driving the knee up and angle the shin and foot have with each other – the foot should be flexed and not pointed.

Don’t forget to use your arms while you skip. Just like when you run, opposite knee and arm move forward and back.

Breaking it down more — this clip shows a progression from walking to the skip, and demonstrates how it’s possible to overdo a movement too.

Drill 3 – B-Skips

B-Skips focus on the second half of the stride and driving the leg up and then extending it down and behind. Try to keep the foot flexed.

Matt Holton gives some more pointers and breaks it down from a walk to the skip.

Drill 4 – High Knees

High Knees are pretty self-explanatory — really focus on staying upright and not letting yourself lean forward or backward.

Drill 5 – Butt Kicks (without bending forward from the hip)

Again, the focus is on staying upright. So instead of swinging your leg back and up to try and touch your glutes, think about staying tall and keeping your knees in front of your body. As you drive your knee up, you’ll tuck your leg and try to bring your heels up toward your glutes.

Drill 6 – Karaoke, AKA carioca or grapevines

We primarily move forward when we run. The Karaoke focuses on a bit of lateral movement and coordination. This movement can be performed in a walk until you feel comfortable. Your arms can swing across your body as you move.

Drill 7 – Backwards Running

Yep. Just like it says. Make sure your path is clear, and try to make running in reverse feel similar to running forward.

Running Form Drills