What are they?
Running Drills are dynamic exercises that aim to promote proper movement patterns, strengthen muscles, tendons and ligaments and improve coordination, agility, balance, cadence and proprioception.
The goal of running drills is to improve economy, speed and form.
Who should do them?
Well, lets start with who shouldn't do them...
- Injured athletes
- Runners that are unsure how to execute the drills perfectly
- Runners that do not yet have the truck stability or strength to take on dynamic movements
Drills are great but ONLY if they are performed with technical proficiency. If drills are practiced without intention, understanding and proper form you are training something you really don't want to be training.
Poor running form...
So, where should you start?
It needs to be said, running form and posture will naturally vary between runners. Finding your best posture is where you need to start. Watch the video below with one of my favourite authors and physiotherapist Jay Dicharry and perform the exercise as instructed.
Establish proximal stiffness
As runners we need to become proficient at maintaining optimal position/alignment and stability when we lift and run. In the words of Dicharry:
"good position = good stability
poor position = poor stability"
In other words, it sucks to suck. When we run we have to support an estimated 250 percent of our body weight. Poor position shifts the propulsion of running to less efficient muscles and makes running harder at a given pace.
In order to establish proper positioning we need to SLOW down. This is the type of work that needs to be done off of the road or trail using tier one drills.
Tier one drills:
We are going to tone the range of motion of this drill down to better simulate running vs. sprinting. Bring the front leg into a figure 4 position and drop the opposite arm slightly.
Practice these 3 days a week working from 15 sec. holds to 30 sec holds.
Practice maintaining proximal stiffness for distal motion, meaning keep your torso still maintaining good positioning as you move your leg cyclically pulling the foot under the body.
Tier two drills:
Marching! Before we can hop, skip bound (basically have both feet off of the ground at the same time), we need to nail down linear marching. Again - the goal is to maintain good position with a strong, stable torso.
Before you laugh at how basic this looks just know that this isn't normal marching, it's cool marching! By cool I mean, you will be very surprised at how quickly you fall out of good positioning as soon as you add forward movement.
Tier three drills:
Now that you are familiar with how good positioning feels and are able to maintain a still torso as you march, we can begin skips and the other 'classic' running drills.
Because there is no way I could get outside to film these myself, I will refer you to this video with one of my favourite coaches Jason Fitzgerald.
How often: 1 - 2 times a week either before a quality session or after an easy run as part of 'drills and strides'
Choose 3-4 drills (to do all 7 would take way too long and you would loose the needed quality). Start with 30m and work toward 50m. Perform 2-3 reps of each drill unless otherwise indicated by your coach
Walk back to the start between drills. The rest period is important!