Running drills are important as they help to encourage an efficient running technique (nobody wants to be working harder and moving slower!) Drills help to engage and dynamically stretch the muscles we will be using later in the running section, they also help to improve co-ordination (Something I think a lot of runners need to work on including myself!)
There are four parts of the running action;
DRIVE, FLIGHT, SUPPORT AND RECOVER.
Don’t worry this my all sound complicated now but it will all make sense when you actually start doing them!
During the DRIVE phase you have one leg that is in contact with the ground, the hip, knee and ankle are all extended upwards (triple extension). The other leg is off the ground and the hip, knee and ankle are all positioned at a 90 degree angle.
During the FLIGHT phase both legs are off the ground and you are in flight! The toes on the foot that is about to come into contact with the ground should be pointing towards the shin (Dorsiflexion) ready to land in the correct position.
LANDING / SUPPORT PHASE
During the land phase your foot should make contact with the ground underneath your centre and preferably with a flat foot
After the leg has driven down and back to move the body up and forwards it recovers underneath your center of mass
The chariots of Fire clip is a great way to watch all these stages in action!!
Here are a few running drills tostart working on!
Walking Drive Start by holding the drive position then take a step forward and balance in that position on the other leg, Make sure you have a 90 degree angle at the ankle, knee and hip and make sure your toes are pointed up towards your shin (Dorsiflexion)
Skipping Drive . the same as above but instead of stepping forward add a skip between holding the drive position on each leg. Make sure your chest is up, your is head up, and you are looking towards the horizon.
Fast feet. Start in the drive position as above and then begin running forwards taking small quick steps as you change between holding the driving position with each leg but hardly moving forward.
Walking Toe Taps.Walk forwards moving from one foot to the other, landing on your forefoot and pointing your toes up towards your shin (dorsiflexed) whilst the leg is in flight.
Running toe taps. Now do the same as above however this time bounce from one foot to the other, landing on the forefoot and bringing the toes up towards the shins whilst the leg is in flight.
Running toe taps – high knees. Perform running toe taps as above however this time bring the knees up into a high position as you swap from one leg to the other.
Stepping over the ankle. Walk forwards, the right foot stepping over the height of the ankle of the left foot then the same with the left foot stepping over the height of the right foot. The foot should land underneath your hips and centre of mass. Make sure you are using your arms, your right arm will drive backwards as your right foot steps over; your left arm will drive backwards as your left foot steps over.
Stepping over the calf. Do the same exercise but step higher over the calf of the opposite leg.
Stepping over the knee The same again but this time stepping over the knee. As this is more dynamic you can run as you perform this drill.
Fast feet with heel squeeze. Run with very fast feet but hardly moving forwards. As you do bring your heel up and under your backside. You should be working hard, taking very fast but very small steps.
Fast run with heel squeeze every third step. This is the same as the drill above but run with feet low to the ground for two steps then bring the heel high and underneath the body on the third step, alternating the right and left leg for each high step. This will also challenge your co-ordination
Heel squeeze and extend out. Run this drill as above and extend the leg out and in front of the body before landing after each heel squeeze. You might feel a bit silly doing this one but keep a smile on your face and have fun, be intentionally silly! I find jazz hands helps when mastering the movement on this drill!
Phew! That was a lot of information! Running drills are not meant to be easy, they require skill and we will need to practice to get your technique right But don’t fear! Take it easy to start with and build up. It’s important to practice running drills correctly to get the full benefit.