Updated: Mar 17
If you were a runner growing up, you likely are very familiar with the idea of running drills as a warm-up. If you’re someone like me who stumbled across running as an adult, drills are less familiar.
I didn’t start running until after college. I stumbled my way through my first 10k, running as much as I could and stopping to walk when it hurt. Basically, training for my half a dozen half marathons and first 2 marathons looked pretty similar. I had no idea that there were actual exercises and activities I could do to run more efficiently.
After I used a run coach for my third marathon, became a run coach, and became much more knowledgeable and familiar with how many runners out there started running later in life, like me, I realized we need to talk more about the basics. Not just that we should run easy, fuel our runs, and continue to love the run, but also the mechanics of running.
Last summer, after crushing some races in the spring, I started to struggle with plantar fasciitis. I continued to run and never really addressed it. Until one night, I woke up to my daughter crying in the middle of the night. I got out of bed to go comfort her and instead of walking out of my room, I collapsed on my floor. My foot would not let me put any weight on it. That was my wake-up call. I realized that not only did I have to stop running, but I had to fix my foot because I couldn’t even do life at that point.
I started working with a running specific physical therapist to address my running form issues, get specific strength exercises and drills and cues to improve all things running.
Within a month I was back to running. 6 months later, I was crushing half marathons again and ready to jump into training for a full marathon.
What is Running Form?
Running form is the way your body moves while running, the lines and shapes your body makes as you run. Everyone has parts of their running form that are unique to them. Watch any professional race and you’ll see that not every runner looks the exact same. Even with that, there are certain things all runners can do to be more efficient as they run. I talk about some of those tips on this blog post from back in January.
If you’re using extra energy on parts of form like vertical displacement (running really bouncy), you will have less endurance or speed. Same with crossing the midline, hip drop, and more.
These things can also lead to an increased likeliness of injury. If your hip is constantly dropping down, it’s going to be felt in your low back, IT band, or even your knee!
How to Fix Running Form
Strength training and running drills are the best ways to fix running form.
In order to figure out what pieces you should be focusing on is to identify what your individual struggles with form are. You can video yourself running from the side and the front and then look at it against those common running form mistakes. You can focus on improving them during runs. You can also work with a professional to have a gait analysis done and get custom exercises and drills for you. (Check out my services on this here).
Strength training is a great way to improve form. So many runners struggle with not engaging their glutes when they run, due to either poor mechanics (drills) or lack of strength. Especially after the last 2 years and life in general, we sit too much and have trained our glutes not to fire when we move. Strength training helps change this. It also helps with core engagement for crossing the midline, and overall strength for improved endurance. If you want to chat about strength training + running, fill out this form and I’ll reach out!
You can also add drills into your workout schedule to improve form. Running drills are dynamic exercises that help to teach proper movement patterns into your muscle memory. As you practice and these. movements become ingrained as movement patterns, it helps to improve a number of running related things. They don't take a lot of time & can easily be built into your current routine.
I recommend adding drills into an easy run so that you get them done without adding extra time to your workouts or adding another thing to our already busy schedules!
Which Running Drills Should I Do?
Rather than a high knee run, start with a march. Focus on pulling your knee up until even with your hip while keeping your hips even. Think about leaning forward while you do this rather than back.
Think about running fast with exaggerated good form -quick feet -forward lean -everything tracking front to back.
Not a traditional heel kick! Instead of keeping your knee down like a quad stretch, pull your knee up while you kick your butt!
How to do Running Drills
Try one drill at a time rather than starting with all three. Also, make sure to get in a nice warm-up before trying a running drill.
One way to add in drills is after an easy run. Do one drill for 20 seconds, recover for 1 minute. Repeat 4 times.
Another way to incorporate drills is throughout an easy run. Try warming up for 1 mile. After that warm-up, do one 20 second rep of the drills and go back to easy running for 5-10 minutes. Repeat the drill every 5-10 minutes for a total of 4 reps throughout your run.
Want more support on strength training for runners, running drills, and running form?
Join my Fire + Flow + Form VIP support group. Our prep group begins June 6th. Your suggested start date will be June 6th (but you can start anytime).
Read More about Fire + Flow + Form
Try a Free Sample Workout