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In this article, I will show you the running drills I personally do before more intensive training or races as a part of my warm-up routine. With these running drills, you will improve your running form.

I will also answer your frequently asked questions.

Running Drills To Improve Your Form

What are running drills?

Running drills are dynamic movements that help integrate the proper running form. They are an unavoidable part of a warm-up routine before more intensive training or race. They improve coordination, agility, balance, and also strengthen muscles and joints which allows faster running.

Think back to the final intervals of your training or the final kilometers of a race. You were tired, your legs were not listening to you, and it was difficult to concentrate on maintaining proper running form.

Running drills improve the communication between your brain and your legs. This is why, despite exhaustion, you will be able to maintain proper running form. That will make you run more efficiently, faster, and you will be less prone to injury.

Top 8 Running Drills To Improve Your Form | OLYRUN

Running drills

1. Ankling

Ankling is a drill which engages your feet, improves coordination, and develops the strength and flexibility of the tarsal joint. It also helps you develop the proper mechanics of landing during a run, and it increases the step frequency which then makes you a faster and more efficient runner.

How to do ankling properly?

How to do Ankling Running Drill? | OLYRUN
  1. Begin by standing with your feet hip-distance apart, look straight ahead, and keep your upper body straight.
  2. Step forward with your right foot and land on the ball of your foot while standing on your left leg.
  3. Shift your weight from your left to your right leg by transferring the weight from the ball of your foot to the heel so that each part of the foot comes in contact with the ground.
  4. Continue alternating sides and moving forward.
  5. Make your steps quick and small. Your arms should follow your leg movements, as they do during a run.

Make your steps quick and small. Your arms should follow your leg movements, as they do during a run.

Tips for performing ankling properly

  • Try to raise your knees as little as possible, just enough for the foot to go through the full range of motions.
  • Mind your posture. Keep your body straight; do not bend forward or backward.
  • Focus on quick movements; reduce the time spent in contact with the ground.
  • Do not forget to move your arms. Swing the arm opposite the raised leg.

Read more: How To Do Ankling Drill? [Video]

2. High knee march

High knee march is a simple running drill that improves your running technique by teaching you to raise your knees, maintain posture and proper foot placement, as well as coordinate your arms and legs.

How to do high knee march properly?

How to do High Knee March Running Drill? | OLYRUN
  1. Begin by standing with your feet hip-distance apart, look straight ahead, and keep your upper body straight.
  2. Step with your left foot by raising your knee to hip-height while standing on your right leg.
  3. Lower your left foot below your center of mass.
  4. Raise your right foot and repeat the movement.
  5. Continue alternating sides and moving forward.

Your arms should follow your leg movements, as they do when you are running. As you are doing the high knee march your foot should be bent towards your shin (dorsiflexion).

Tips for performing high knee march properly

  • Mind your posture. Keep your body straight; do not bend forward or backward.
  • Avoid rotating your body, focus your motions towards the direction you are moving in.
  • Pay attention to the fluidity of movements; make sure not to pause between steps.
  • Do not forget to move your arms. Swing the arm opposite the raised leg.

Read more: How To Do High Knee March Drill? [Video]

3. A-skip

A-skip is a running drill that improves your posture, the motion of raising your knees, and the coordination between your arms and legs. A-skip also teaches you the proper foot position during a run.

A-skip is an exercise that requires a high degree of coordination and movement control. Before you start doing A-skip you should learn high knee march, a simpler drill with similar movements.

How to do A-Skip properly?

How to do A-Skip Running Drill? | OLYRUN
  1. Begin by standing with feet hip-distance apart, look straight ahead, and keep your upper body straight.
  2. Raise your left leg to hip-height while skipping on the ball of your right foot.
  3. Hit the ground below your center of mass with the ball of your left foot and stand on both feet.
  4. Continue alternating sides and moving forward.

Your arms should follow your leg movements, as they do when you are running. As you are doing the A-skip your foot should be bent towards your shin (dorsiflexion).

Tips for performing A-skip properly

  • Mind your posture. Keep your body straight; do not bend forward or backward.
  • Avoid rotating your body, focus your motions towards the direction you are moving in.
  • Find your own rhythm, while coordinating your arms and legs.
  • Focus on quick leg movements; reduce the time spent in contact with the ground.
  • Do not forget to move your arms. Swing the arm opposite the raised leg.

Read more: A-skip: How To Do A-skip Drill? [Video]

4. High knees

High knees are a running drill that imitates typical running movements used in running at maximum speed. It improves the strength of the front part of your feet and the coordination of your arms and legs. It also increases step frequency and helps you reduce the time you spend in contact with the ground.

How to do the high knees drill properly?

How to do High Knees Running Drill? | OLYRUN
  1. Begin by standing with your feet hip-distance apart, look straight ahead, and keep your upper body straight.
  2. Raise your left leg to hip-height while standing on the ball of your right foot.
  3. Hit the ground below your center of mass with the ball of your left foot while raising your right leg to hip-height.
  4. Continue alternating sides and moving forward.

Your arms should follow your leg movements, as they do when you are running. As you are doing the high knees your foot should be bent towards your shin (dorsiflexion).

The high knees running drill has similar movements to A-skip running drill, but these movements are much more explosive and faster.

Tips for performing high knees properly

  • Mind your posture. Keep your body straight; do not bend forward or backward.
  • Be careful not to hit the ground with your heel because high knees are performed on the balls of your feet.
  • Do not forget to move your arms. Swing the arm opposite the raised leg.

To perform this drill properly it is important that your focus on lowering your feet (hitting the ground) and not on the raising of your knees. According to Newton’s third law of motion (law of action and reaction) – The harder you hit the ground the higher your knee will spring.

Read more: High Knees: How To Do High Knees Drill? [Video]

5. B-skip (paw-back)

B-skip is a running drill that teaches you to raise your knees and to grip the surface properly as you run. It also improves coordination, the flexibility of your hamstrings, and the range of motion of your hips, knees, and ankles.

How to do B-Skip properly?

How to do B-Skip Running Drill? | OLYRUN
  1. Begin by standing with your feet hip-distance apart, look straight ahead, and keep your upper body straight.
  2. Raise your left leg to hip-height while skipping on the ball of your right foot.
  3. Explosively grab the ground with your left leg so that ball of your foot hits the ground below your center of mass, standing on both of your feet.
  4. Continue alternating sides and moving forward.

Your arms should follow your leg movements, as they do when you are running. As you are doing the B-skip your foot should be bent towards your shin (dorsiflexion).

Tips for performing B-skip (paw-back) properly

  • Focus on the leg grab going below you, not on kicking your leg forward (the leg will stretch automatically as you do the movement).
  • Mind your posture. Keep your body straight; do not bend forward or backward.
  • Avoid rotating your body, focus your motions towards the direction you are moving in.
  • Find your own rhythm, while coordinating your arms and legs.
  • Do not forget to move your arms. Swing the arm opposite the raised leg.

Read more: B-skip: How To Do B-skip Drill (Paw Back)? [Video]

6. Straight Leg Bounds

The straight leg bounds are a running drill that teaches you to actively engage the ground with your feet and to develop proper contact so that you do not overstride. It also engages your hamstrings and improves arm to leg coordination.

How to do the straight leg run properly?

How to do Straight Leg Bounds Running Drill? | OLYRUN
  1. Begin by standing with your feet hip-distance apart, look straight ahead, and keep your upper body straight.
  2. Stretch your right leg forward, while bending your knee as little as possible.
  3. Pull your right leg below your center of mass and emphasize the explosive contact of the ball of your foot with the ground, while stretching your left leg forward.
  4. Continue alternating sides and moving forward.

Your arms should follow your leg movements, as they do when you are running. As you are doing the straight leg bounds your foot should be bent towards your shin (dorsiflexion).

Tips for performing straight leg bounds properly

  • Mind your posture. Keep your body straight; do not bend forward or backward.
  • Move your legs similar to scissors as you move forward.
  • Focus on quickly pulling the leg below you, not on stretching it forward.
  • The foot must not be bent away from the body, in plantar flexion, because you will not be able to hit the ground with force.
  • Do not forget to move your arms. Swing the arm opposite the raised leg.

Read more: How To Do Straight Leg Bounds Drill? [Video]

7. Butt Kicks

Butt kicks are a running drill that strengthens your hamstrings and glutes muscles while stretching the quadriceps by imitating overemphasized leg swings as the foot loses contact with the ground.

How to do butt kicks properly?

How to do Butt Kicks Running Drill? | OLYRUN
  1. Begin by standing with your feet hip-distance apart, look straight ahead, and keep your upper body straight.
  2. Pull the heel of the right foot toward the buttocks while standing on the ball of your left foot.
  3. With the ball of your right foot hit the ground below your center of mass and at the same time pulling the heel of the left foot toward the buttocks.
  4. Continue alternating sides and moving forward.

Your arms should follow your leg movements, as they do when you are running. As you are doing the butt kicks your foot should be bent towards your shin (dorsiflexion).

Tips for performing butt kicks properly

  • Focus on quick leg movements; reduce the time spent in contact with the ground.
  • Mind your posture. Keep your body straight; do not bend forward or backward.
  • As you raise your heel, focus on contracting your hamstrings, not on pushing off the ground.
  • Do not forget to move your arms. Swing the arm opposite the raised leg.

Read more: Butt Kicks: How To Do Butt Kicks Drill? [Video]

8. Carioca drill

Carioca drill is a running drill that teaches you to initiate the movement of the legs from the hips when running and increases the mobility of the hips. It also activates the feet and improves arm to leg coordination.

How to do the Carioca drill properly?

How to do Carioca Running Drill? | OLYRUN
  1. Stand sideways to the direction you will be moving in, with your legs parallel to your shoulders.
  2. Cross your right foot over your left and shift your weight to the front part of your foot.
  3. Move your left foot to the side until you have returned to your original position.
  4. Cross your right foot under your left and shift your weight to it.
  5. Move your left foot to the side.

The arms should follow the leg movements. Repeat the motions and move to your left until you cross the desired distance, and then move to the opposite side.

Tip

By raising the knee higher, you activate the hip flexor muscles more strongly and increase the range of motion of the hip.

Tips for performing carioca drill properly

  • The movement comes from the hip; the upper body should not rotate.
  • Find your own rhythm, while coordinating your arms and legs.
  • Be careful not to hit the ground with your heel because carioca drill is performed on the balls of your feet.

Read more: Carioca Drill: How To Do Carioca? [Video]

Tip

Pin this post so you can do this workout again (or later)!
running drills to improve speed

Tips for performing running drills properly

It is important to focus on the proper execution of running drills. If you are not able to maintain proper form, it would be better to do fewer repetitions or even stop completely. Not doing running drills properly will ruin your running technique and increase the risk of injury as a result.

It is advisable to do running drills while being watched by the coach. If that is not an option, then ask another runner to observe you or record yourself so that you can see whether you are performing the drills properly.

Running drills require skill and are not easy to master. Be persistent as you learn. Start with easier and simpler exercises, slowly moving up to the more complex ones.

Simpler running drills

Complex running drills

FAQ –Frequently Asked Questions

Why is it important to do running drills?

In addition to being used as a part of a warm-up before more intensive training or races, running drills have a number of other benefits:

1. Improve technique and running economy
2. Increase cadence
3. Reduce contact with the ground
4. Improve neuromuscular effectiveness
5. Strengthen the hip flexor muscles, core, and leg muscles
6. Help you lose weight
7. Improve the cardiovascular condition
8. They do not require any equipment

Read more: Why Running Drills Are Important? [9 Reasons]

Running Drills To Improve Your Form

Should beginners do running drills?

Running drills are intended for both beginners and experienced runners. Be careful when returning to training after injury. If you feel any pain or discomfort stop immediately.

Read more: Warm-up Before Running [Ultimate Guide]

How often should I do running drills?

Running drills should be done before more intensive training and races as a part of your warm-up routine. For most runners that would mean 2-3 times a week, depending on your training schedule.

When should I do running drills?

Running drills should be done before the main part of your intensive training, as part of your warm-up routine, or after an easy training. It is important that you are rested so that you can more easily focus on performing the running drills properly.

Read more: Warm-up Routine Before Running (Training/Race)

Warm-up routine before interval training (15 x 400m)

1. Easy jogging (10 minutes)
2. Mobility exercises and dynamic stretches (5 minutes)
3. Running drills – 2 x 40m ankling, 2 x 40m high knees, 2 x 40m butt kicks
4. Strides – 3 x 60m
Running Drills To Improve Your Form

Should I always do all of the mentioned running drills?

Doing all the mentioned running drills at once is not necessary.

Pick 2-3 running drills. Do each drill for 20 to 40 meters. After each drill walk back to your starting position. Repeat each running drill 2-3 times.

Example:

2 x 20m ankling
2 x 20m high knees
2 x 20m butt kicks

You can also do running drills one after another. Pick 3 drills and switch every 20 meters. After each set, walk back to your starting position. Repeat 2-3 times.

Example:

2 x 60m (20m ankling, 20m high knees, 20m butt kicks)
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Matea Matošević
Matea Matošević
Article by:
Matea Matošević

Hi, I’m Matea! I’m Olympic Marathon Runner, founder, and writer behind OLYRUN.com. On this site, I provide help in the form of my knowledge and experience to all who love running and active living. Read more…