Regardless of what level you run at, strength and mobility are key contributors to success. If you’ve moving well and powerfully, then you’re getting the most out of your body, which will ultimately lead to faster times. Below is a video with four simple exercises to help you warm up and get the most out of your stride, from Kris Sheppard, chiropractor and owner of The Runner’s Academy in Toronto, which specializes in helping runners move well.
For the exercises, you’ll need a long, flat surface (a park or soccer field is ideal) and a medicine ball. If you’ve never done plyometrics or are new to running drills, start this routine unweighted and add the medicine ball after you become comfortable with the movements. These drills are all about good form. Before these drills, do a short (roughly 10 minute) warm up.
In and out toe taps
In and out toe taps look like a fun little dance, but they’re actually opening up your hips while working on your speed. Take your shoes off to do this exercise, and be sure to keep your toes pointed up. The goal is to rotate your hips and pop off the ground as quickly as possible.
Bounding is a tricky activity, but when performed correctly, it makes you feel like the world’s fastest runner. Think of bounding as a skip where you hold yourself in the air for as long as possible before coming back down. You want to spend as little time on the ground as you can.
When bounding, aim to have your foot dorsiflexed (bent at the ankle, toes pointed up) and bring your lead knee to 90 degrees. If possible, have someone take a video of you doing the exercise while you learn it to help improve your form. Also, don’t forget about your arms – drive them forward to help propel you off the ground. Do two sets of eight bounds.
One, two stick
The one, two stick works on knee drive, core strength and power. This exercise is like doing high knees, with a hold. Start without the med ball, using your arms to help drive your knees, and progress up to the weighted version. The goal with this exercise is to transition quickly between legs and hold strong at the top, keeping your back straight and your knees at 90 degrees.
Warning: this exercise seems simple, but it’s probably the most difficult drill you’ll ever do. Start with 10 reps on each leg.
In the first set of bounds, runners were trying to push themselves up and forward. In this set of bounds, runners are trying to go as high as possible, with little focus on moving forward. With elevated bounds, think of keeping everything as long as possible (from your head to your feet). As always, point your toes to the sky and try to land with your feet directly underneath your knee (not ahead of it).