Whether you’re new to running or have been pounding the pavements for years, it may surprise you to learn that there’s far more to the sport than just putting one foot in front of the other consistently. Pacing, foot placement, gait, individual leg strength, cadence and core stability — to name but a few — all have their role to play when it comes to hitting the road, track or treadmill. But, when you’re visiting the gym, what can you do to ensure you’re running at your best the next time you lace up?
Below, we’ve recruited the help of Third Space Performance Master Trainer and triathlete coach Chris Stanton to help you elevate your running training, whether you’re looking to add another medal to your collection or just want to see steady improvements at your own pace. Ready, set…
Why: “A-Skips are perfect to encourage a high knee lift and efficient foot contact during your run,” says Stanton. “Try not to focus on distance but rather rhythm and a fast foot contact.”
- 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
Watch: How To A Skip – Sprint Drill
Why: “B-skips are similar to the A-skip, but add in a leg extension,” explains Stanton. “It also enhances the hamstring function as the leg snaps down to initiate contact.”
- 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
Watch: How To B Skip – Sprint Drill
Why: “The pogo is a-two footed reactive jump to target the elastic properties of the lower legs and ankle stability.”
- Stand tall with your feet shoulder width apart.
- Raise your heels so you are standing on the balls of your feet.
- Quickly bounce up and down on the balls of your feet. Don’t let your heels touch the ground. Focus on minimal ground contact time and only minimal knee flexion.
Watch: How To Pogos
Why: “Bounding is ideal to help you develop your leg power, single leg stability and stride length,” says Stanton.
- 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.
Watch: How To Bound – Sprint Drill
Why: “This will develop a reactive foot strike and increased cadence,” says Stanton. “It also teaches your leg muscles to ‘fire’ faster. This drill also encourages a mid-foot landing.”
- 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.