runners doing drills on a track field

How to Incorporate Running Drills to Improve Form and Efficiency

Incorporating running drills into your training regimen can significantly improve your form and efficiency. Good running form isn't just about aesthetics; it's about using the right muscles and being economical with your energy. This article will guide you through when, where, and how to perform various running drills, from beginner to advanced levels, and how to integrate them into your overall training plan.

Key Takeaways

  • Good running form reduces the risk of injury and enhances running efficiency.
  • Running drills can be performed before, during, or after your run and can be done in various locations such as tracks, parks, or even your backyard.
  • Beginners should start with basic drills like High Knees, Butt Kicks, and A-Skips, while advanced runners can incorporate drills like Bounding, Carioca, and Strides.
  • Consistency and proper technique are crucial for the effectiveness of running drills.
  • Using video analysis can help in perfecting your form by allowing you to review and adjust your technique.

Why Good Running Form Matters

Preventing Injuries

Good running form is crucial for preventing injuries. When you run with proper form, you reduce the strain on your muscles and joints, which can help you avoid common running injuries like shin splints, runner's knee, and stress fractures. By focusing on your form, you can run more comfortably and safely.

Boosting Efficiency

Running with good form allows you to use your energy more efficiently. This means you can run longer distances without getting as tired. Proper form helps you maintain a steady pace and reduces the amount of energy wasted on unnecessary movements. Efficiency is key to improving your overall running performance.

Enhancing Speed

Good form can also help you run faster. When your body is aligned correctly, you can generate more power with each stride. This means you can cover more ground with less effort. By working on your form, you can increase your speed and achieve your running goals more quickly.

Choosing the Right Time for Running Drills

Pre-Run Warm-Up

The best time to do running drills is after a proper warm-up but before the main part of your training session. This ensures your muscles are ready, reducing the risk of injury. Think of it as priming your body for the workout ahead.

Mid-Run Technique Check

If you feel your form slipping during a run, take a moment to do a quick drill. This can help reset your technique and keep you running efficiently. It's a great way to maintain good habits even when you're tired.

Post-Run Cool Down

Incorporating drills into your cool down can be beneficial too. It allows you to practice form when your muscles are fatigued, which can help improve your endurance and efficiency over time. Just make sure not to overdo it—listen to your body and stop if you feel too tired to maintain good form.

Ideal Locations for Running Drills

A track and field is one of the best places to perform running drills. The rubberized surface is gentle on your joints and provides a consistent, flat area to practice. You'll usually need about 50 meters of unobstructed space to complete your drills effectively. Plus, many tracks have marked distances, making it easier to measure your progress.

Parks and trails offer a more scenic and varied environment for your drills. A flat dirt trail or grassy field can be ideal for these exercises. Just make sure the area is free of obstacles and relatively even. The natural surroundings can make your workout more enjoyable and less monotonous.

Believe it or not, you can even do running drills in your own backyard! As long as you have a straight stretch of about 50 meters, you're good to go. This option is super convenient and allows you to fit in a quick drill session without having to leave home. Consistency is key, so having a readily accessible space can help you stick to your routine.

How Often Should You Do Running Drills?

Weekly Routine

It's generally recommended to do running drills once or twice a week. Even dedicating just 10 minutes to drills can significantly improve your running form and efficiency. You can incorporate these drills either as a standalone workout after a proper warm-up or as a preparatory part of a more intense run. Competitive runners often include drills in their pre-competition routines.

Listening to Your Body

While a weekly routine is a good starting point, it's crucial to listen to your body. If you feel too tired or notice any discomfort, it might be best to skip the drills for that day. Always prioritize good form over quantity to avoid injuries and maximize benefits.

Adjusting for Progress

As you become more comfortable with the drills, you can start to adjust the frequency and intensity. Begin with about three drills, each repeated 2-3 times over a 50-meter stretch. As you progress, you can add more drills or increase the distance. The key is to gradually challenge yourself without overdoing it.

Essential Running Drills for Beginners

High Knees

High knees are a fantastic way to get your heart rate up while working on your form. This drill helps improve your knee lift and overall running posture. Start by jogging in place and then lift your knees as high as possible, aiming to get your thighs parallel to the ground. Keep your core engaged and your back straight.

Butt Kicks

Butt kicks are great for enhancing your leg speed and flexibility. Begin by jogging slowly and then kick your heels up towards your glutes. Focus on keeping your knees pointing down and your thighs perpendicular to the ground. This drill is excellent for loosening up your quadriceps and improving your stride.


A-skips are a bit more advanced but incredibly effective for improving your running mechanics. Start by skipping forward, lifting your knee high and driving your opposite arm up. Make sure to land on the balls of your feet and keep your movements controlled. This drill helps in developing coordination and rhythm, which are crucial for efficient running.

Advanced Drills for Experienced Runners


Bounding is a powerful drill that helps improve your stride length and power. It involves exaggerated running steps, almost like you're leaping forward with each stride. Focus on driving your knees up and extending your legs fully. This drill can be done on flat ground or a slight uphill to add more challenge.


Carioca, also known as grapevine, is excellent for improving lateral movement and coordination. This drill involves crossing one leg over the other while moving sideways. It's a great way to enhance your agility and hip flexibility. Make sure to keep your upper body relaxed and your movements smooth.


Strides are short bursts of running at a faster pace, usually about 80-100 meters. They help improve your running form and speed without the fatigue of a full sprint. Incorporate strides at the end of your easy runs to practice running with good form when you're slightly tired. Focus on maintaining a relaxed posture and quick, efficient steps.

Common Mistakes to Avoid During Drills


One of the most common mistakes is overstriding. Overstriding can lead to injuries and reduce your running efficiency. Instead, focus on planting your foot directly under your center of mass. This helps in maintaining a natural stride and reduces the impact on your joints.

Poor Posture

Maintaining good posture is crucial during running drills. Slouching or leaning too far forward can throw off your balance and make the drills less effective. Keep your back straight, shoulders relaxed, and look ahead. Good posture not only improves your form but also boosts your confidence.

Lack of Consistency

Consistency is key when it comes to running drills. Doing them sporadically won't yield the desired results. Aim to incorporate drills into your routine at least once or twice a week. This helps in building muscle memory and improving your overall running form.

  • Overstriding can lead to injuries and reduce efficiency.
  • Poor posture can throw off your balance.
  • Consistency is key for effective results.

Incorporating Drills into Your Training Plan

Setting Goals

Before you start incorporating running drills, it's essential to set clear and achievable goals. Whether it's improving your speed, enhancing your form, or preventing injuries, having a goal will keep you motivated. Write down your goals and revisit them regularly to track your progress.

Tracking Progress

Keeping track of your progress is crucial. Use a running journal or an app to log your drills, noting any improvements or setbacks. This will help you understand what works best for you and make necessary adjustments. Consistency is key here, so make sure to review your logs frequently.

Balancing with Other Workouts

Incorporating drills into your training plan doesn't mean you should neglect other aspects of your training. Balance is vital. Here's a simple way to integrate drills:

  • Start with a warm-up
  • Perform your running drills
  • Follow up with your main workout (e.g., tempo runs, long runs)
  • Cool down and stretch

By balancing drills with other workouts, you'll ensure a well-rounded training plan that covers all bases.

The Science Behind Running Drills

Neuromuscular Coordination

Running drills are essential for improving neuromuscular coordination. This means your brain and muscles learn to communicate more effectively, leading to smoother and more efficient movements. Better coordination can help you avoid injuries and improve your overall running form.

Muscle Memory

When you consistently practice running drills, you develop muscle memory. This allows your body to perform the correct movements automatically, even when you're tired. Think of it as training your muscles to remember the right way to move, so you don't have to think about it during a race or long run.

Energy Efficiency

Running drills also help improve your energy efficiency. By refining your form and technique, you use less energy to run at the same pace. This means you can run longer and faster without getting as tired. Efficiency is key to becoming a better runner, and drills are a great way to achieve it.

Using Video to Perfect Your Form

Recording Your Drills

Recording your running drills is a fantastic way to get a clear picture of your form. Whether you’re using a smartphone or a more advanced camera, the key is to capture different angles. This will help you identify any weaknesses or areas for improvement. Ask a friend to help or use a tripod for steady shots.

Analyzing Footage

Once you have your recordings, it's time to analyze the footage. Look for common issues like overstriding or poor posture. You can even compare your form to professional runners to see where you stand. Feedback is crucial here, so consider sharing your videos with a coach or a knowledgeable friend.

Making Adjustments

After identifying areas for improvement, it's time to make adjustments. Focus on one or two aspects at a time to avoid feeling overwhelmed. For example, if you notice you're overstriding, work on shortening your stride. Keep recording and reviewing your drills to track your progress and make further tweaks as needed.


Incorporating running drills into your training routine is a game-changer. Not only do these drills help you improve your form and efficiency, but they also reduce the risk of injury. Remember, good running form isn't about looking good—it's about being economical and using the right muscles. So, whether you're a beginner or a seasoned runner, make these drills a staple in your workouts. Consistent practice will lead to better neuromuscular coordination and stronger muscles, ultimately making you a more efficient and injury-free runner. Happy running!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of incorporating running drills into my training?

Incorporating running drills into your training can help improve your running form, efficiency, and speed. It also reduces the risk of injury by strengthening muscles and improving coordination.

When is the best time to perform running drills?

Running drills can be performed before your run as a warm-up, during your run for technique checks, or after your run as part of a cool-down routine.

How often should I do running drills?

It is recommended to incorporate running drills into your training routine at least once a week. However, listening to your body and adjusting the frequency based on your progress is important.

What are some ideal locations for performing running drills?

Running drills can be performed on a track and field, in parks and trails, or even in your own backyard. The key is to find a flat and safe surface.

What are some essential running drills for beginners?

Some essential running drills for beginners include high knees, butt kicks, and A-skips. These drills help in improving form and increasing muscle strength.

What advanced running drills can experienced runners try?

Experienced runners can try advanced drills such as bounding, carioca, and strides. These drills are designed to further enhance running efficiency and speed.

What common mistakes should I avoid during running drills?

Common mistakes to avoid during running drills include overstriding, poor posture, and lack of consistency. Ensuring proper form and regular practice is crucial for effectiveness.

How can I use video to perfect my running form?

You can record your running drills and analyze the footage to identify areas for improvement. Making adjustments based on the analysis can help in perfecting your running form.

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