Drills for improving running technique
Spending some time doing running drills can really improve your running technique.

Drills for improving running technique

By breaking down the overall running action, we can focus on specific areas for development. Drills could be completed as a training session on their own, they can form part of the extended warm up for an interval session or take place sometime during a steadier run.

it's important to focus on areas of weakness so include drills that you aren't good at

Find a selection of drills that work for you so that they can be done regularly - don't feel you necessarily have to go through all of them. Do remember it's important to focus on areas of weakness so try to include as many drills that you aren't good at (and probably don't like) as drills that you enjoy.

Break down of a drills session
  • Warm up for at least 5 minutes before doing drills
  • Build the amount of time you spend on each drill to 15-20 secs, in which you may cover a distance of 15-30 metres depending on the exercise
  • Remain relaxed during drills
  • Repeat each drill between 2-4 times
  • Recover by walking back to where you started the drills from - take about 30 seconds between exercises

1. Ankle work

Shuffling forward with small steps concentrating on working ankles by raising onto tip toes.
  • Ankle drillsTake tiny steps with each foot
  • With each step the foot should move forward slightly, just in front of other foot
  • The knee should only raise very slightly, barely lifting the foot - just enough to place it in front of the other
  • Concentrate on lifting each foot from flat onto toes
  • Use arms in time with legs
  • Try to vary the frequency of movement of the legs

Variation: do the same drill but lift the knees to waist height, so foot leaves ground.

2. High knees

Small step, knee high running
  • Modify normal running action to lift knees to waist height
  • Support yourself with a vigorous arm action maintaining an even swing
  • Keep leg movement fast
  • Place one foot down just in front of where the other one was positioned
  • Maintain suitable torso position - do not lean back
3. Skipping

Running with a bounding action
  • Incorporate a skip (or small bound) into normal running stride
  • Raise knee to between knee and waist height
  • Coordinate arms with movement
  • Finish with a controlled transition into a few metres of normal running, being conscious of maintaining a good body position
4. Skipping with high knees

Skipping with emphasis on push-off
  • Similar action for Skipping drill, but using a higher knee lift created by a more vigorous drive.
  • Once you feel confidant, combine with the ankle work technique for a full drive off.
5. Forward kicks

Skipping with emphasis on kick through
  • Same as for skipping but flick the leading leg out
  • Maintain upper body position with a slight forward lean and no torso twist
  • Drive off with full range of foot motion
Running drills improve technique
Running drills improve technique
6. Butt flicks

Flicking heels back to touch backside
  • With a forward running movement, actively flick heel back towards backside
  • Support this action with normal running action arm movement
  • Take short steps forward
  • Keep feet moving quickly
  • Finish drill by going into a few metres running with a controlled transition
7. Hopping

Hopping with an emphasis on drive off
  • Hop, concentrating on driving off vertically (land on same leg)
  • Extend drive off by focusing on the full range of ankle movement
  • Stretch upwards with your whole body, as if pushing vertically up
8. Running jumps

Exaggerated long strides from a driving kick through (similar to mid-phase of a triple jump)
  • Exaggerate and lengthen the normal running stride by driving the knee forward
  • Co-ordinate arm motion to complement movement
  • Finish drill with a controlled transition into a few metres of normal running
9. Fast feet ('Machine gun')

Rapid contacts with ground making small forward movements
  • Take very fast steps, lifting and contacting the ground quickly, as if running through tyres
  • Co-ordinate arms with legs
  • Make sure feet are lifted - don't scuff the ground
  • Maintain good body position by looking forward
  • Finish drill by transitioning into a few metres of normal running
10. Alternate butt flicks

Two machine gun steps interspersed with alternate bum flicks
  • Action is a combination of bum flicks and fast feet
  • E.g. left foot machine gun, right foot machine gun, left foot flick heel to bum, right foot machine gun, left foot machine gun, right foot flick heel to bum. Repeat cycle from left foot machine gun
  • Good for co-ordination and control


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