Top 10 Running Drills For Speed And Efficiency

Each drill is performed for two lengths of a 100m track. Take short breaks in between to catch your breath if you need to.

Warm up with a light jog around the track and do sprints afterward to maximize our focus on form when we are fatigued. It helps to choose a mantra like “dig”, “push” or “drive” to get you through the final laps. Bring the printed list (bottom of post) to your next cross-training or drills workout.

It’s a lot of fun, especially with friends!

1. Butt Kicks

Butt kicks engage the hamstrings and accentuate the recovery portion of the running gait and improve leg turnover cadence. While running, kick yourself in the glute with your heel on each stride. If you’re not making contact, you need to improve your dynamic range of motion.

2. High Knees

The high knees drill improves knee lift and glute/hamstring power, which promote speed, efficiency, and powerful and leg drive. Taking short steps with a very quick cadence, alternate thrusting knees upward until your thigh breaks a plane parallel to the ground. Focus on soft, flat foot strikes near the ball of your foot while using your core to lower your leg down slowly instead of letting it crash to the ground.

3. Gazelles

Bounding increases foot, calf and hamstring muscle power and develops stability necessary to maintain fluid running form while fatigued. Alternate leaping into the air off one leg in an exaggerated stag or gazelle style bounding motion. Your arm motion should be synced to the opposite leg’s action, holding steady for the brief moment while you’re off the ground.

4. Grapevines

This drill increases hip and leg mobility while also using the lateral strength required to run with good form. We all know how to grapevine, right? Standing upright with your head and torso facing forward, move laterally in one direction by placing your trailing leg in front of the lead leg. Then move the lead leg in that same lateral direction and place the trailing leg behind the lead leg. Maintain a fluid motion with your arms, moving them to maintain balance.

5. Slow Skipping

This drill helps develop calf and foot strength needed during the toe-off phase while also stimulating neuromuscular timing for running with high cadence. Skip like you would on the playground, but accentuate the high-knees section. This is basically high-knees with extra focus on your calves. Don’t forget to double-bounce on the bottom foot.

6. Lateral Bounding

This drill develops lateral strength and agility necessary to stabilize the body and maintain single-leg balance during forward running motion. Specifically, this drill works the glutes, hip flexors, tensors, abductors and psoas muscles in ways that are otherwise neglected in forward running. The slow version of this is ‘step to the side and then bring your trailing leg to meet your lead leg’. Now go faster! You’ll probably need to swing your arms overhead in an opposite pattern to maintain balance.

7. Hamstring Extensions

This drill increases mobility of the hamstring and gluteal muscle groups and enhances forward hip extension necessary for running fast with efficient form. Hold one arm in front of you, parallel to the ground, and kick toward your hand with the opposite leg. Lower your leg, taking a step forward and then switch arms and kick with the alternate leg, focusing on form, not speed.

8. Cakewalks

This drill helps stimulate neuromuscular timing for quick-cadence running, while also reinforcing a balanced foot strike. This helps eliminate the counterproductive braking associated with a heel-striking gait. With an upright torso, straight legs, and pointed toes, start bounding forward with quick cadence.

9. Running Backwards

Running backward helps strengthen the glutes and upper hamstrings, as well as core muscles. Although it will seem awkward at first, try to replicate your forward running motion while moving backward. You’ll still be pushing off of your forefoot and swinging your arms, but you’ll be lunging backward with your hamstrings and using core muscles to stabilize differently than you’re used to while moving forward.

10. Burpees

Because everyone loves burpees, Right? Roll some dice or draw cards to decide how many you have to do. (Try to shoot for 100 in a row by the end of the season!).


running drills