Do you ever wonder why elite runners look so graceful and effortless as they cruise through a marathon? These pro runners have efficient strides developed through years of practice and repetition. Here are five drills you can perform prior to running that will enforce proper technique and help you get your stride up to snuff.
Many runners do not realize that the back half of the stride is where the power comes from. High knees force the hip flexors to drive your knees up, strengthening your push-off. To correctly perform high knees, do not worry about speedjust focus on driving your knees up towards your chest.
Many runners do not have the flexibility to get the most out of the back half of their stride. This is due to tight quadriceps. Butt kicks stretch the quadriceps, allowing you to get a full extension on the back half of your running stride. To correctly perform butt kicks, focus less on speed and concentrate on bringing your heel to your butt with every stride. You should feel the stretch in the front of you leg as you touch heel-to-butt.
The longer a stride you have and the more push off power that stride contains, the faster you will go. Three-pump lunges reinforce a long stride while forcing you to drive your body up resulting in a build up of power in your stride. To correctly perform three-pump lunges, lunge out to a comfortable distance, lower until your back knee taps the ground and drive yourself directly up to your starting position, engaging your butt to do the work. Don’t let your knee/quadricep take the brunt of the lifting motion. Remember, your butt is the important muscle in this drill.
We’ve all seen runners with short strides that look more like marching than they do running. You must train your body to take long, efficient strides. Bounding over-exaggerates the long stride, while forcing you to have a powerful push-off. To perform bounding exercises, start with a slow jog and gradually increase your stride length with each step. Within 20 yards you should be leaping from one stride to the next, focusing on long extension in the back of your stride while pushing off to gain distance with each stride as well.
Your neighbors might assume you’re either extremely happy or a crazy person, but skipping is a great drill to improve running coordination while also improving push-off power. To correctly perform skipping, use your arms to drive you forward while skipping. Make sure you’re concentrating on the push-off on the back end of your stride to drive you forward with each skip.
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