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Coaching: Run Technique Development

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Drills for Running Technique

Running technique of even the very best athletes is rarely perfect. Technique for any given person will have the potential to be slightly different on any given day – fatigue affecting co-ordination for example.

That said, for all of us as runners, striving to have the best technique that we can is no bad thing. Injury prevention and increased energy efficiency are the two that always stand out as gains.

Using ‘Running Drills’ will help greatly with the process of making changes to technique. Just by going through each drill in turn you will find that muscles and connective tissues work that little bit harder. This will help to increase your strength and stability.  Now that has to be a good thing.

In the video below Harvey Martin and Jack Crownshaw describe what I believe are the four key running drills to get you started. They form the foundation for more advanced movements and each mimics part of the running gait cycle.  In giving the drills a go do not expect them to be perfect first time. That said, don’t be surprised to discover that at the end of the session you running feels a little different.

The Four ‘Key’ Running Drills
For each drill there are three things to always remember.
1) Stand with an Upright Body Posture – a nice straight back
2) Your arms should move from the shoulder, with your elbows not passing in front of you body.
3) Land underneath your body with an ‘Active Foot’. Yes, to move forward you will be making tiny steps, all be it at a high cadence.

Now have a look at the video from Jack and Harvey…

How Each Drill Fits into the Running Gait Cycle

  1. Can – Can. Also called Straight leg kicks, Pull Backs and Chicken Legs.
    A drill that will activate through your glutes into your hamstrings. Into mimics and exaggerates the ‘push phase’, as you extend and push behind you.
  2. No 4’s. Also called Foot Tucks and Flamingos in Hot Water.
    This quick up and down movement is again great for your glutes and a stable pelvis. A great mobility drill that aids you pulling your foot through and under your body following the push phase in the gait cycle.
  3. High Knees. Also called the Prancing Horse.
    Another quick up and down movement that aids a good knee lift and drive before you prepare to land. The position of the foot is especially important, something we call an ‘Active Foot’.
  4. Fast Feet / Mini High Knees. Also called Grumpy Elephants.
    This drill is designed so that it mimics the foots position upon landing – ‘Active’.  It’s fast action really makes you work and landing quickly and underneath yourself remains key.(PS I would like to thank Anna for coming up with alternative ‘Animal’ names for the drills… originally with the juniors in mind, the older among you love the idea too!)

The drills, as Jack explains can be developed and expanded upon. It is all about practice and accepting that change will be gradual.

One to One Running Technique sessions are available from the Accelerate Performance Centre. Having someone take you through the technique of each drill and how this can then help you with your own specific change requirement can be very helpful.


This article was written by Stuart Hale.
Stu has over 30-years coaching experience and also helps many Yorkshire Running Clubs with Technique and putting together session on behalf of England Athletics.