There’s more to moving in a straight line – at speed – than you might imagine. Allow us to help out…
You only need to think back to school sports day to realise that running fast isn’t all that easy. Flailing limbs and faltering form will quickly slow you down. And so, if you want to get the most out of the new, faster fitness trend for track running then it’ll pay to get your technique in order. Gratifyingly, Third Space Master Trainer Chris Stanton has detailed the only five SAQ – Speed, Agility & Quickness – drills you need to improve running dynamics and prime your body for high-end performance. Consider this your step-by-step guide.
(And once you’ve mastered them, make sure you put your progress to the test against our RUNNING WORKOUTS YOU NEED TO GO FASTER FOR LONGER)
A-skips sharpen your overall form by emphasising foot placement and knee drive through the propulsive phase. They are a great drill for hamstring activation and correct movement patterning.
Tip: Try not to focus on distance but rather rhythm and a fast foot contact.
How To: This drill is a dynamic progression from high-knee walking.
- Lift lead knee to waist height. When it reaches the highest point there is a small hop forward.
- Keep your toes pointed up on your lead leg (dorsi-flexed ankle).
- Forcefully step down with a mid-foot strike – aim to make a noise when contacting the ground.
- Repeat by alternating legs.
B-skips are a development from the A-skip which further improve your form by focusing on your knee drive and leg extension.
Tip: Stand tall and keep your arms relaxed.
- Mimic the A-Skip until your knee is at waist height.
- Kick your leading leg out in front of you.
- Drag your leading leg back underneath you whilst maintaining a dorsi-flexed ankle.
- Aim for a mid-foot strike by maintaining a slight forward lean.
Bounding is used to create a more powerful leg drive upon contact with the ground.
Tip: Do not over extend your stride. Your stride length should increase but as a result of your increased power when contacting the ground no as a result of you overreaching.
- Start running at a comfortable pace and when ready, start to strike the ground with more power on each stride and aim to gradually increase your stride length.
- Maintain good form, with a slight forward lean.
This is a drill that improves your running cadence by teaching your leg muscles (predominantly hamstrings) to fire faster. This drill also encourages a mid-foot landing. It can be an effective progression from the Functional Balance and High Knee Walking drill.
Tip: Focus on reducing your ground contact time by lifting your feet directly up underneath you towards your butt.
- With your feet at hips width, lower your body down into a half squat position.
- Lift up your heels so you are on the balls of your feet.
- Start running as fast as you can on the spot.
Strides – whilst technically not a drill – are controlled injections of speed during a regular running session. The aim is to allow you to practice the previous abstract drills in a real running scenario and are therefore usually performed after drills.
Tip: The key is to practice the acceleration while maintaining a very relaxed posture (shoulders and arms relaxed with wrists brushing your hip bones).
- Run 60-80m at a reasonably fast pace, but not an all-out sprint.
- Walk back after each set of strides to re-focus.