Drills sharpen your running form

Drills sharpen your running form

by Janet Barry

As an elite athlete, I’m always looking for ways to improve and gain an edge on my opponents. At this level, all the women train very hard and are strong, fast and mentally tough.  

This is why I think we have so much respect and love for one another. As competitors, we understand what it takes to be a top athlete in the sport of obstacle-course racing.  

Athletes can do small things for a big impact on their overall performance. Running drills take only a few minutes and can improve your running form, making you more efficient to run faster with less effort.  

I like to throw these drills into my weekly routine prior to heavy workout days. It’s a great dynamic stretch to help you warm up.   

Here are drills I incorporate into my warm-ups:   

  • A-skip:This helps to reinforce proper foot strike and turnover in your running form. Similar to a regular skip but lift your legs higher off the ground pushing your knee as close to your chest as you can.
  • Butt kicks:Be sure your posture is straight and your heels touch directly under your glutes. Don’t worry about the distance forward you are traveling but rather focus on your form/posture and rate of turnover. This improves quadriceps and hip flexor flexibility while reinforcing high cadence. 
  • Highknees: Ensure your posture is upright and bring your knees up as high as you can keeping your leg in a right angle. Alternate your legs as quick as you can. Focus on form and rate of turnover (the number of times reps you get during each set) rather than distance traveled forward.  
  • Carioca:For this drill you’ll travel from left to right alternating your legs in front and behind each other. Make sure to go both directions. This is my favorite because it increases my hip flexibility and helps with coordination and agility.  
  • Straight-leg bounds:Think of this drill as running without bending your knees. This helps with coordination and  glute activation, which is essential to proper running form.  
  • Lateralleg swings: Place your hands on the wall and lift your left foot slightly off the floor. Swing your leg across your body to the right. Repeat the back-and-forth motion 10 to 15 times and then do the same with the other leg. Be sure to keep your posture straight and core tight.  
  • Forward leg swings:Place your right hand on a wall for support. Swing your inside leg (right leg) as high as you can while keeping the other leg on the floor. Swing your leg for 30 second intervals. Keep your posture straight, hips loose and body relaxed. Don’t forget to do the left leg, too.

Try adding this dynamic routine to your warm-up before your next run. You’ll see the difference the longer you keep up the practice.