Running form is a frequently neglected element of many training routines, yet can play a key role in our success and health on the run. Luckily, improving your form is usually as simple as completing a few running drills before or after a run.
These running form drills are quick, easy and require no extra equipment to complete.
What is running form?
Although most runners are aware of how they”should” look on the run, maintaining proper running form is often easier said than done. When the miles add up and our body tires, it’s easy to let yourself slouch, heel strike, or unknowingly lengthen your stride.
However, taking the time to promote and encourage proper running form is usually less time consuming than most runners expect. One of the best and most efficient ways to support healthy running form is to complete a few running drills on a regular basis each week.
These running form drills are quick and painless to complete. They can be completed before, after or even during a run to encourage full body balance, help improve stride length, promote efficient turnover, increase your range of motion and so much more.
Why is running form important?
Running with proper form sets your body up for success on each and every run. A healthy posture encourages maximum success by helping reduce the amount of energy expended with each step. Slouching on the run may feel natural when your tired, but ultimately makes your body work harder for each and every step.
Taking the time to focus on various elements of running form, such as stride length, turnover and balance, will help you increase your speed as well as keep your body primed to stay healthy and reduce your risk of injury.
Test out these simple running drills to improve your form and efficiency on every run. Try adding them to your post-run routine after easy runs as a simple way to promote healthy technique.
Spending even just 5 minutes completing these running form drills may be all it takes to encourage a healthy training season and set you up for your next PR.
5 Running Drills to Improve Form and Efficiency
This running drill is a great way to loosen up the hips, help improve stride length and single leg balance. Skips take the basic skipping exercise we all learned in elementary school to a new level with higher knees and longer time in the air.
Begin by skipping forward, lifting your knee up towards your chest to form a 90 degree angle. Keep the foot of your raised leg parallel to the floor while it is in the air. Continue to alternate legs, skipping forward at a slow pace, and then repeat while moving backwards. Pump your arms while skipping to increase height with each movement.
This running drill also helps improve single leg balance, strengthens the core and promotes healthy range of motion in the hips. Marching is a simple form drill that can also be used as a warm up or cool down for any run.
To complete the marching drill, simply lift your knee up towards your chest as if you were skipping, without jumping into the air. Keep your raised foot parallel to the floor while marching forward, and continue to alternate legs. After moving forward, repeat the exercise while moving backwards.
Straight Leg Swings
This is another form drill that promotes full body balance, range of motion in the hips and hamstrings, and strengthens your entire leg. Straight leg swings are a great way to increase the engagement of leg muscles before, during or after a run.
Move forward as if you were about to take a step, and swing one leg high into the air. Keep the leg straight while it’s in the air, and aim to lift it until it is parallel with the floor. Lower your foot to the floor to step forward and continue to alternate legs.
Carioca with High Knees
Carioca is an exercise that most of us originally learned in PE classes, and it has many benefits for runners. This running drill promotes a healthy turnover on the run, as well as helps improve range of motion in the hips and knees.
To begin, take a step to the right with your right foot, lifting your knee into the air towards your chest as high as you can. Next, take a step to the right with your left foot, crossing it over and in front of your right. Take another step out to the right with your right foot, lifting your knee into the air again as you do so.
Now, take a step to the right with your left foot, this time crossing it behind your right foot. Continue to repeat, alternating between crossing in front and behind when stepping with your left foot.
The goal of this running form drill is to complete it as quickly as possible, with light feet and high knees. After completion, repeat moving the opposite direction, this time lifting your left knee into the air with each step.
This simple running form drill is easy to complete and promotes a quick, efficient turnover on the run. Quick feet can be completed before, after or during a run as a way to encourage fast movement and healthy form.
To complete the quick feet drill, simply take small, short steps forward on the balls of your feet. Move quickly, with fast steps, covering small distances between each step.
These running form drills are simple and easy to complete, giving you no excuse to skip them. Try including them once a week or after each easy run to see what a difference they make in your training.
Maintaining a healthy running form may feel unnatural if you’re used to something different, but these running drills will help you adjust your technique without even realizing it.
Set yourself up to avoid injuries, stay healthy, gain balance, and use the least amount of energy on every run. Before you know it, you might just accomplish those goals that you’ve been dreaming about.
More running drills and form tips:
- 9 Surprising Ways to Make Running Feel Easier
- The Best Ways to Find and Fix Muscle Imbalances
- How to Quickly Increase Your Cadence