The ABCs of Running

A little over a year and a half ago I made a goal for myself to run a half marathon. Since then I’ve run 3 half marathons, two full marathons, two 10km races and joined a run club! I often joke that running has VERY quickly become a part of my personality. Throughout this period I have experienced injury at times and found that it often came back to an error in my training (too much running, not enough rest and strength training), or sub-optimal form.

If you’re reading this and you’ve started running and you’re looking for ways to get faster, improve your running technique and/or prevent injury – this post is for you! 

Let’s talk about RUNNING DRILLS!

Incorporating running drills into your exercise routine or running warm-up can help you achieve an improved running economy. Running drills are meant to isolate certain phases of the running gait to help you optimize your foot placement, engage the right muscles and become more automatic. Running drills can also lead to improved balance and coordination, and work on functional strengthening of your hip flexors, core, quadriceps and hamstring to promote powerful movements. As your motor patterning improves you can also use drills to work on increasing your cadence – all of which can reduce the incidence of injury and improve your performance. 

Here are three common running drills that can help you improve your running (they have been game changing for me!!)


  • How to:
    • Lift your knee up to your waist while keeping your other leg completely straight 
    • Keep your foot parallel with the ground 
    • Move your arms opposite to your legs like you would when running 
    • Drive your foot back down into the ground, aiming to strike your foot right underneath your hip
  • Benefits:
    • Improved lower leg strength
    • Improved efficiency and positioning of foot strike
    • Reduces tendency to overstride 


  • How to:
    • Raise one hip up to 90 degrees of hip flexion while hopping on the ball of your other foot
    • Quickly extend your leg out in front of you and pull back to strike your foot underneath your hip 
    • You want to feel like you’re clawing the ground with your foot 
  • Benefits:
    • improve range of motion in the hip and ankle 
    • Improve coordination 
    • Improve power and positioning of footstrike to optimize running economy 

Butt Kicks

  • How to:
    • Start by standing tall and taking short strides, almost as if you’re running on the spot. 
    • Slightly lift your knee and try to bring your heel to your buttock 
    • Alternate legs, focusing on quick turn over
  • Benefits:
    • Improved cadence
    • Power in the hamstrings and glutes 

How to Incorporate Running Drills
It’s recommended that running drills are incorporated into your warm-up or built into a short run. You don’t need to do them everyday, but consistency will lead to long-term effect and carryover into longer distances – especially late in a race or training run when you’re tired and form can begin to waiver. I recommend practicing the drills in short spurts – starting with 20-30 metres. As you become more proficient with the movements, try to increase your speed.

Have questions about running drills? OR are you interested in learning more about ways to improve your training, rehabbing or preventing running injuries – lets chat! 

Kristen Blair, Registered Physiotherapist

Click here to book with Kristen

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