Adding running drills to your routine is an excellent way to boost speed and endurance. They’re quick, easy, and help to improve your form, so there are no disadvantages to doing them.
We believe every runner should use them in their warm-up and cool-down. Here are our favorite 9 running drills to run faster and farther.
Add them to your routine, stay consistent, and you should see a noticeable difference soon!
What Are Running Drills?
Running drills are a group of dynamic exercises that put your muscles through the core movements involved in running. The idea is to get the movement right and do them as fast as possible while keeping good form.
Doing them often helps you build muscle memory of the correct movements, which translates to your overall running form and gives you more power and speed. They’re also a great way to warm up your muscles before hitting a full run!
How Do Running Drills Make You Run Faster and Farther?
Running drills contribute to your speed and stamina in a few different ways. Ultimately, they improve your athleticism by:
- Improving your range of motion
- Strengthening the mind-muscle connection
- Perfecting your running form
- Developing your reflexes
- Increasing your acceleration
- Boosting your muscle power
- Improving your coordination
All of these things contribute to you maintaining better form during your runs. Not only does that lower your risk of getting injured, but it can also increase your performance by giving you a speed and power boost.
When you run with proper running form, your muscles also expend less energy, meaning you’ll be able to run farther before you fatigue.
When Should You Do Running Drills?
The best time to do your running drills is just after your warm-up. They can be a part of your warm-up, but we advise doing them after your initial dynamic stretches and jog. This means your muscles will be warm already and ready for the movement.
They’re technically “skill” exercises but also excellent for priming your muscles for a full run! You can also do them as part of cooling down if you aren’t too fatigued.
Can You Do Running Drills Every Run?
You can, but there’s no need to. It’s recommended that you do running drills on the days you do short runs or on your active rest days.
Doing them on long run days can leave you too fatigued to perform well on your run. Twice a week on short run days is more than enough to get the benefits.
How Long Should You Take To Do Running Drills?
You can do 10 to 20 minutes of running drills at the end of your regular warm-up routine. For moving drills, you can aim for about 65 feet in one “set.” As you improve, you can increase the distance or do 2-in-1 sets.
Should I Do Them All During My Workouts?
Pick 4 to 5 drills to do during one warm-up. There’s no need to do all of them, and it’ll start to get very long if you try.
Choosing just a few each time means you can vary it each time, so there’s no chance of getting bored!
9 Best Running Drills to Run Faster and Farther
If you want to build up your performance to run faster and farther over time, these are 9 running drills you should include in your routine.
This drill activates the glutes and the hamstrings. The first way to start is to do a skip with high knees—as high as you can go, which means you’re trying to touch your chest with your knee. That means lifting one knee on one hop, lowering it on the next hop, and then doing the same with the alternate knee on subsequent hops.
You will move forward as you do this drill, as it’s quite dynamic. Interestingly, this drill can help to encourage a more efficient foot strike, which helps you to improve your cadence and speed.
It’s a good idea to start slow. Walk instead of run, and make sure you’re keeping your back leg straight as you lift your front leg. When you land, work on striking with your forefoot or midfoot, not the heel.
Here’s how to do it with the correct form:
B-skips are very similar to A-skips, but the front leg extends as it comes down. This activates the hamstring a little more and improves the range of motion in the hip.
Start the same way as the A-skip, but when your knee is at its peak, instead of bringing it down like the A-skip, kick it out in front of you as you bring it down.
It’s not just throwing your foot out without thinking, though. You still need to do it with proper form, and you can find many runners and even coaches teaching this incorrectly. Here’s how to do it perfectly:
3. High Knees
High knees can be either a running-in-place drill or a moving drill. It’s an excellent choice if you have limited space because you can do it at a high intensity in a very small space.
It’s not complicated, although you do need to take care to get your form right. You’ll lift one knee, keeping your heel underneath your glutes. Then, as you lower it down again, lift the other knee so you’re simulating a running motion with a higher-than-usual knee lift.
Your arms should move in the opposite way to your legs. So when one leg comes up, the opposite arm comes up, just like if you were running along the road or trail. It’s important to keep your back straight and your shoulders up the whole time and to tense your core throughout the movement.
If you’re moving forward while you do this drill, you don’t need to move forward with a lot of speed. Focus on getting the movement right and doing it with intensity and good form, moving forward slowly.
4. Butt Kicks
Butt kicks are another thing you can do while moving or standing in one place. They give the quads and hamstrings a good stretch.
There are two variations of butt kicks. One, the classic butt kick, is when you keep your knees under your hips and lift the feet so that the heel touches your butt. You need to do this quickly to move through the full range of motion.
The second variation is a hybrid of the original version and high knees. You want to bring your knees up to about a 90-degree angle while still kicking your butt as you move. This one may take some practice!
This fun exercise works on your agility and footwork, as well as improving the range of motion in your hips. You’ll need to start slow because it’s easy to trip yourself up if you aren’t used to the movement!
You’ll move slowly sideways as you work through this drill. There’s no need to rush—getting your form right is more important. Here’s what it looks like:
This exercise might feel strange, but it’s an excellent way to strengthen and prime your feet for proper loading and push-off phase of your gait. The key is to move at a high cadence while keeping your feet close to the ground.
You may have to start off slowly and build up speed as you go. Try not to lift your feet too high off the ground, and also try not to land your heel on the ground—it should come down close to the ground but not actually touch it.
7. Side Shuffle
The side shuffle is a simple exercise, but it works on stability. You’ll find that your running form and posture are better by working the stabilizing muscles.
You’ll often see a side shuffle—or lateral shuffle—going into a sprint, which you can do if you wish. This helps train acceleration.
Make sure you stay in the half-squat position throughout the movement. You’ll feel it in the glutes and quads!
8. Straight Leg Run
This is just as it sounds. You’ll run at a moderate pace, with your straightened legs coming out in front of you. It’s a good idea to start slowly because you can injure yourself at higher speeds if you aren’t used to the motion.
The most important thing here is NOT to lean backward as you run. Squeeze the glutes and hamstrings as you pull each leg backward, and keep your head up and your back straight.
Strides are short, sharp accelerations that train explosive speed. They’re performed with excellent form, but the form is almost overexaggerated. You want to do about 100 meters, accelerating to around 95 percent of your maximum speed.
Once you’ve done one stride, walk or jog slowly for about a minute, then go into another one. You can do these at the beginning of your short run as you go along your route rather than confining them to a set distance, but it’s up to you!
Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Drills
Doing drills should be priming you for movement and speed. You shouldn’t just be going through the motions—paying attention to each movement and working on that mind-muscle connection! Here’s how to get the most out of your drills.
Until you’ve got the hang of each drill and it’s become muscle memory, do them slowly. You might see experienced runners flying through them, but it’s essential to get them right from the start, so you build good habits.
Start easy. You can build up your speed and power over time, but you don’t want to risk injuring yourself on your drills in the beginning!
Focus On Form and Technique
It’s extremely important to get your form right on these drills. They play a huge role in your overall running form, so if you’re getting them wrong, you won’t be doing your regular form any favors.
Focus on doing them with exceptional technique. If that means you slow them down for the first few months, then so be it. Rather go slow with perfect form than go fast and lose your form.
Vary Your Drills
There’s no need to do the same drills every time. You can chop and change, which will help to prevent you from getting bored with them. If it works better for you, you can decide which drills you want to do the day before, or you can just decide on the go.
Cross-training can have a positive impact on your running form. Strengthening the muscles using a “non-running” form of exercise helps them to get used to different ranges of motion and become more adaptable.
On your off days, you can do any form of cross-training. Some popular options include cycling, swimming, rowing, elliptical, walking, jumping rope, and weight lifting. Whatever you do, make sure to do it with excellent form to reduce the risk of injury!
Make It Fun
One of the biggest things that stops runners from doing strides is that they feel like they look weird! While some of these drills are unusual movements, they’re all excellent for your running form and performance, so it’s absolutely in your best interest to do them.
The best way to not feel self-conscious when doing them is to make them fun! Do them with a buddy if you’ve got someone nearby, or challenge yourself to do more than you did the last time.
Doing them to music can also be fun—we recommend figuring out which songs match the pace at which you do them and use those for motivation.