Drills make you run faster!
You may have seen athletes ‘doing drills’ in the park or at a track and wondered about incorporating them in to your workout. However, you may not know much about them or where to start. Let us point you in the right direction…
Drills are a great way to improve form and stride efficiency, which as a result means you’ll use your energy reserves more effectively and you’ll run quicker – so hats off for deciding to add them to your programme.
As a triathlete, with probable time constraints, I’d restrict the session to once a week, but feel free to go increase that to three sessions of around 10-15min.
In an ideal world you’d do them at the start of a training session or after a very easy run so you are not tired as you do the exercises – we’re looking for perfect running form after all. In fact, keep that upper most in your mind while you’re doing them – each exercise needs to be done perfectly. We’re not looking for speed here, more working through exact range of motion.
5 to try
1 - Over about 15m, walk tall, looking ahead, bringing your knees up 45 degrees. Do this slowly to perfect the action over 3 or 4 repetitions. Now pick up the pace, using the same action as walking but at sewing machine speed. Keep looking ahead, keep that tall posture; it’s about speed on the ground, not going forward. Repeat 5 times.
2 - Over about 15m, walk tall, looking ahead, this time leading with alternate legs bringing each one slowly up in a cycling motion, then quickly snapping down in a pawing action (not unlike a goose-step march, or a single leg pedal drill). You’re working your hamstrings leading with a high leg, and firing fast twitch muscles by the quick snap to the ground. Repeat 4 times.
3 - Hip flexibility is essential for fast running and minimising injuries, so cross-over drills are great. Moving sideways to the left at a quick pace, you’ll move your right leg across the front of your left, then behind on the next stride. First go left, then right for 10-15m, 3-5 times. Imagine a crab scuttling sideways and you have the motion we’re looking for.
4 - Set up three or four kit bags (or young athletes’ hurdles at the minimum height, perhaps 20cm) in a line one stride apart. Now at walking pace, head up, body tall step over the bags, bringing your trail leg through in a straight line, NOT hurdler style with a hook. We’re looking at hip action again and aiming for exact straight lines. Repeat 3-5 times.
5 - Finish off with 3-5 runs of about 15sec, gradually moving up to full speed, but relaxed. We’re not looking for personal bests, just perfect form, putting your muscles through exaggerated perfection. But don’t change your personal running style, concentrate more on relaxing, not forcing the issue.