UPDATED ON MARCH 29, 2022
In the previous weeks we have talked about running economy and given some key areas to focus on in your running technique . But how to actually change something or to improve? Here are XTERRA World Champion and professional coach Josiah Middaugh’s essential running drills for distance runners – with videos!
Follow these running form drills on your Suunto!
With the help of SuuntoPlus Guides, you can now follow these running form drills on your Suunto watch. Before starting a running exercise on your watch, go down to exercise options and select ’Running Form Drills’ from the SuuntoPlus Guides menu. Start the workout and you will see step-by-step guidance on one of your watch screens. Swipe left until you see it. Press lap (lower right button) to advance from one step to the next one.
Read on to learn the drills!
Skip with high knees (“A” skips)
Drive your knee up forcefully lifting you off the ground. Keep movements primarily in the sagittal plane. Keep your foot dorsiflexed, which means your toes drawn up towards your shin. This is a small skip since you land on the same foot and then switch. (Scroll down for a video of all the drills.)
Run with high knees
Similar to the “A” skips, but instead of skipping there is a quick transition from one foot to the other, just like running. Focus on breaking the vertical plane with your thigh each time.
This is just like the “A” skip, except after you drive the knee up, then extend the knee. Knee extension happens passively as you snap the leg back down with your glutes and hamstrings, pawing your foot to the ground.
Butt kicks (heel to butt)
Traditional butt kicks are usually performed incorrectly, swinging the heel in a half circle towards the butt. Instead, draw the keep up in a straight line towards the bottom of the butt or top of the hamstrings. To do this, allow the knee to come forward, but not quite as high as the high knees drill.
This has all of the same points as the “A” skips except you are going for more height. Momentum is created by driving the knee up and also forcefully pushing off the ground.
Most running is performed in the sagittal plane, but stabilizing also occurs in the frontal plane. The carioca drill is a side ways motion requiring adduction/abduction and coordination. Face sideways and cross your trailing leg in front and then behind and you continue in the sideways direction. Continue facing the same direction for your return trip.
Bounding is a higher intensity running drill designed to improve power and efficiency. Essentially bounding is just an exaggerated run with lots of vertical and horizontal displacement. Go for both height and distance with each stride. To keep from skipping, try jogging 5-10 yards before starting the drill. These can be performed on flat ground or uphill.
Strides are just controlled sprints. Gradually increase speed for 30-40 meters and then maintain high speed with good, controlled form for another 40-60 meters. The key is not to strain or sprint all out. Make it look easy. I like 70-100 meters for these on a relatively soft surface such as a rubberized track or turf.
Watch all the running form drills on video!
Watch coach Josiah's essential running form drills here.
Josiah Middaugh is a XTERRA Pan America Champion and 2015 XTERRA World Champion. He has a master’s degree in kinesiology and has been a certified personal trainer for over 15 years (NSCA-CSCS).
Images and video by Matt Trappe