5 Simple Running Drills You Can Do Anywhere

by Jason Fitzgerald

When I’m traveling, I find it really hard to warm up properly before I go running. The drills I do, especially the iron cross and hurdle seat exchange dynamic stretches, take up a lot of space. Knocking over a coffee table is a real possibility when you’re swinging your legs back and forth with the scorpion exercise.

Note: Read my definitive guide on core workouts to learn these exercises.

Another problem is that a lot of these dynamic stretches are done on the ground. If you don’t have a carpet or throw rug, it’s going to be uncomfortable to put all of your weight on your knees. Some core exercises are virtually impossible if you don’t have a soft surface available.

Often at races, there’s no soft surface (like a big patch of grass or carpet) for you to do your running warm-up. Luckily, there’s a way for you to warm-up that helps you prepare for harder efforts: running drills.

By the term running drills, I mean those that are typically considered form drills. I’m not convinced that these “form drills” actually improve your mechanics, but they may make you more efficient. For me, the jury is still out until I see solid research.

What the drills do very effectively is loosen your muscles, warm your core temperature, and prepare your body to run. Since you don’t need to sit down and only need the width of a hallway to do them, you can do them virtually anywhere where you can jog for 10-20 seconds.

Simple Running Drills

A Skip

B Skip

Butt Kicks

High Knees

Skipping (multiple variations)

To get you started with these running drills, here are a few pointers:

  • Do them before you run. Focus on form.
  • The intensity can be modified by how fast you do them. Start slow and build gradually.
  • I recommend you do 3-4 standing dynamic stretches before starting. You can use several from my running warm-up video.
  • Stay on level ground. Slight uphills are okay, but avoid downhills. The excessive pounding on your legs could leave you sore or potentially injured.

Executing a proper drill, whether it’s a B-skip or high knees, requires you to maintain the right form and go through the entire range of motion. Watch the above videos carefully.

When you start, have a friend look over your form. They’ll be able to tell you if something is off – even if you think you’re doing them correctly.

Running drills like the ones above were staples before every workout we ran in college. If you’re using them before a workout or race, the most widely used practice is to do them after your running warm-up but before your strides.

Doing so helps your legs increase their range of motion before you start harder running. They also offer a neuromuscular component, requiring you to improve your brain-body communication pathways. In short, they’ll help you fire your leg muscles more powerfully, in a faster time period.

These drills work well for those who are getting ready for harder efforts or can’t physically fit dynamic stretches into a narrow room where you warm-up. When I’m away from home, sometimes it’s easier to use the driveway or street to do drills as opposed to a dynamic flexibility routine.

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{ 5 comments }

Lisa

I’m glad you included videos. I was totally doing butt kicks wrong. I’m going to use some of these for Santa Rosa. What do you think? Oh, and by the way. I like the new About page.

Fitz

Thanks Lisa. Let’s talk via email about the drills… maybe!

Steve

Although I am down for another left tibia stress fracture, I look forward to healing up and trying these. I think they are great. Thanks for putting this together.

Fitz

These can work really well. If you’re prone to stress fractures, it’s best to do them on a softer surface. Avoid pavement and slapping your feet down on the ground. Good luck Steve!

David Ellis

fyi…the A Skip and B Skip videos are broken links as of 5-30-2012.

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