Run Your Running Drills

If you’ve been at this running thing for a while, you might be wondering what you can do to take your training up a notch other than adding ever more miles. You already do speed workouts and tempos. You do your core. You sleep and eat mostly well. What else is there?

Drills. 

Drills are a great addition to warm-ups before a track workout. They’re also great to work in some agility exercises to the end of runs. They can help your running form, your range of motion, and running economy. What’s not to love?

I like to incorporate them into the run itself, so that I’m actually running my running drills. I usually do this in the off-season, when I’m not doing “real” workouts, or when I’m easing back from an off-period and want to prepare my body to return to hard running. Let me persuade you to give this training tip a try.

For those obsessed with recording your mileage or are chronically short on time, one of the best thing about running your running drills is that you don’t have to sacrifice mileage with this workout. The key is to base your mileage off time, not actual miles run. Ok, so this might be cheating a bit as your drills won’t be as fast as normal running, but your body will be moving and working the entire time, so just keep your watch running and convert those minutes worked into miles run. For instance, if your usual easy run pace is 9:00 per mile, then count 9:00 minutes of drill running as a mile for the purpose of your training log.

This can also be a great workout to do if you have young kids. If you can find an area where they can play contained (such as the infield of a track or soccer field), you can perform this workout around the perimeter, while keeping an eye on them playing in the middle.

For this workout, I recommend a 10 to 15 minute warm-up, and 10 to 15 minute cool down. Ideally run to and from the location you’ll run your drills. Look for somewhere you can stay consistent in drill distance, that is flat with even surface to work on.

I like to do mine on a soccer field. The infield of a track works well too. Perform a set of drills down the length of your area, jog back to where you started (or about the same distance if going around a track) and repeat. This workout can last anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes, depending on how many repetitions you do. The drills and the recovery jogs should be run continuously, but even so, with the variety of the drills interspersed with running it goes quickly and isn’t boring.

The Drills

So what about the actual drills? Here are the drills I like to do in this workout. I describe them, but also link to YouTube videos for most, so you can see them in action. Unless otherwise noted, I do one length of each with an equal distance easy run between.

1. High kneesRun with exaggerated knee lift. Focus on keeping your core tight and driving forward the opposite arm as you drive up your knee.

2. Butt kicksRun while trying to kick your own butt. Focus on keeping your core tight, and your knee pointed at the ground as your drive your lower leg back to almost hitting your heel to your butt.

Left: High Knees. Right: Butt Kicks.

3. Skip-upsSkip with exaggerated knee and arm swing. Focus on a strong core as you skip driving your knee up while swinging the opposite arm in exaggerated motion.

4. Skip-outsSkip with exaggerated forward kick. Focus on a strong core as you skip while driving your foot out. Use normal running arm swing.

Left: Skip-ups. Right: Skip-outs

5. Grapevines right leg (aka Carioca):  Orient your body sideways to move laterally down the field. Leading with your right leg, then driving your left knee up and then your left foot over your right foot. Repeat the length of the field.

6. Grapevines left leg: Same as above but lead with left leg.

Grapevines

7. Running backwards: Run backwards. Focus on engaging your core and quick foot turn-over.

8. BoundingThis is an exaggerated skip, where you really leap off of one foot with each step. This mixes jumping and running. It’s all about height! Engage your core, as always, and really focus on pushing and driving your body up as you go across the field.

Left: Backwards Running. Right: Bounding.

9. Forward walking lungesWith hands on your hips and legs a shoulder’s width apart, step out with the right leg, and bend at the knees to 90° angles (right knee pointing forward, left knee down). Bring the left foot next to the right and then lunge again, leading with the left foot. Focus on engaging the core and keeping the knees at a 90° angle.

10. Backwards walking lungesWith hands on your hips and facing backwards with legs a shoulder’s width apart, step your right leg back and bend at the knees to 90° angles (right knee pointing down, left knee up). Bring the left foot next to the right and then lunge again, leading with the left foot. Focus on engaging the core and keeping the knees at a 90° angle.

11. Strides TIMES TWO: Stride the length of the field, jog the same distance and repeat. Focus on good running form, and MOVE!

Left: Lunge (is it forward or backwards? We’ll never know!) Right: Stride!

Repeat X number of times.

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Regardless of your reason, incorporating your running drills into your run is a good way to spice things up when you aren’t ready for a full workout or if you want to supplement your weekly workout by mixing up a normal run.

How do you perform your running drills?

Army veteran, now Army wife with 3 daughters (aka: single married mom). I have fun trying to sprint, enjoy long runs in the mountains, and everything in between. 3 x marathon OTQ, will eventually start training again to try to make it 4. I write about trying to stay competitive while raising young kids.

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10 comments

  1. This is great. I’ve never really done drills and I’m not sure why, except that maybe I am not sure I’d do them correctly. They look like fun, so maybe I’ll try some this week…

    1. They are fun, and it breaks up normal running a little bit. It’s good mentally and physically to do something different!

  2. This is a great guide! I get overwhelmed by all the options and then I end up just not doing them at all, haha.

    1. Ha! I know me too. I also love the idea of including them as mileage. My excuse is always I don’t have a lot of time and with the time I have I’d rather get miles in.

      1. I know what you mean! It’s maybe cheating a little bit mileage wise, but I am trying to be less mileage-obsessed, and realize that it’s better to make your muscles work differently instead of just logging more junk miles.

  3. How do I perform them? I like to do them (minus lunges) before faster workouts and races to make my legs springy.
    In training, I also like to ensure I include a period of running (say 20-30 min or more) after them to help my brain integrate the two (drills & running).

      1. LOL. The links are great – thank you!
        (I only included the question rhetorically, as reference to the one asked at the end of the post)