Under 5 Minutes Drill to Improve Running Performance

Shawn Gerber

Coach

Endurance Sports, Nutrition, Strength and Conditioning

 

This set of drills is a quick and easy supplement to any run, warm-up or strength workout you may have on your schedule. You can do them just about anywhere without any special equipment or much space at all. In fact shoes are even optional!

 

 

What's the Benefit of Running Drills?

In a word? Efficiency. Running will come to you far more quickly and easily when you spend time mastering the technique. Efficient running helps you run faster, improves endurance, and reduces injury risks.

 

These drills are designed to develop your sensation of an efficient foot strike. They progressively take you through the sensations of a forefoot or midfoot strike so that your body knows what to feel for as you mix it into your actual running.

 

Landing on your mid or forefoot with a forward lean and a high leg turnover (about 90 repetitions per leg per minute) is the easiest way to keep you foot strike underneath your center of gravity which reduces  landings that hinder your forward movement. In fact, it is a very effective way to take the vertical energy of gravity and translate it into forward motion (a controlled fall). Running is essentially a transition from a good position on one leg to the same position on the other. These drills help reinforce and drill into your nervous system these positions on each leg.

 

How to Perform Foot Strike Running Drills

Quick note upfront - try to engage your arms in these drills as if you were running (so opposite arm moves with the opposite leg). See the video to clarify.

 

Pony Drill

Start in a normal standing position with good posture. Then, bend your knees slightly and come up onto your toes/front portion of your foot on one leg. The other foot remains flat. After that, switch positions with the flat foot transition into the upright position, and the other foot returning to flat. Do this for 20-30 seconds, being mindful of the sensations of the front portion of your foot contacting the ground first, followed by the heel.

 

Single Leg Hops

After you do the Pony Drill, shift your weight over onto one foot, unweighting the other leg and lifting your foot from the ground. Don’t lift or drive your knee forward so much as pull your foot towards your butt with your hamstrings (this is key). In this moment, pay attention to how your weight has shifted to the loaded leg. Notice how your head is over your foot to create balance. This is the position we are drilling. From here, hop gently on your weighted foot, paying attention, again, to the sensations of landing on your fore or midfoot with the heel following. Experiment with this on each side. Try to do 30-60 seconds on each leg before progressing to the next drill.

 

Alternating Single Leg Hops

take the last drill and begin to alternate between legs. Start with 4-6 hops on each side before switching. Gradually decrease it down to 2 hops between transitions, and finally try alternating every time. Keep your hops quick (set a metronome to 180 beats per minute if you want) and focus on picking up the foot and having a quick contact with the ground. Do this for 30-60 seconds (more if you like).

 

Add the Lean/Running

This is really a continuation of the last drill. Once you are alternating every hop, lean forward slightly and let yourself “fall” forward, being mindful of picking up the foot with your hamstrings as you hop. This will cause you to start moving forward in a slow run. Keep it going from here, focusing on a quick turnover. As you gain momentum, notice how you are not driving your legs out in front of you, or reaching out in long strides. Instead, you should feel the length of your stride extending behind you.

 

Take it to the Grass (Optional)

Now that you’ve got a feel for it, either take your shoes off and go to a grassy area or put on some minimally cushioned shoes and hit a softer surface like a track or a running trail. Running barefoot on grass is a great way to reinforce what you just practiced. All the wonderful nerves in your feet will light up and you will be able to feel your foot strike exceptionally well. You’ll find that it’s hard to heel strike like this. Run like this for short bouts of 50-100 yards for 3-5 minutes to better reinforce all these new habits.

 

If you are doing this as a pre-workout or a warm-up for your strength routine, try minimalist shoes on a treadmill for 3-5 minutes for a similar effect.

 

You might also like A 5 Minute Set to Improve Your Run Technique.

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