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Steph Bruce’s pre-workout drills for better running form

Recent research shows that high school athletes who did similar drills reduced their injury risk by 70 per cent

American 2:27 marathoner and mother of two Stephanie Bruce, a HOKA One One athlete who trains with the Arizona-based NAZ Elite, has released a Youtube video demonstrating a series of activation drills that she does four times a week. Bruce recommends doing them before every workout and after easy runs, as well as before a race. They’re designed to help you improve your range of motion and running form and prevent injury while making you feel faster and more powerful–and if they work for her, they’ll work for you. Best of all, Bruce demonstrates exactly how to do them with good form, since as she points out, the time to be focused on your form is while doing activation drills, not when pushing through a hard workout or race.

Here’s the sequence:

  1. Arms (forwards and backwards, together and windmill, while skipping lightly)
  2. A skips (keeping feet flexed)
  3. B skips
  4. High knees (don’t try to move fast)
  5. Butt kicks (without bending forward from the hip)
  6. Karaoke (you may know them as grapevines)
  7. Backwards running



The drills are similar to a series of exercises developed by researchers at the University of Calgary’s Sport Injury Prevention Centre. The Globe and Mail recently reported on a study that found that high school athletes who adopted the 15-minute warmup routine reduced their injury risk by 70 per cent.

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In 2017 I started writing down race goals and ways to execute before I lined up. This summer before USAs on the track I wrote this on my phone 45 minutes before the 10,000m. “You are nervous that’s ok. Top 3, world team. Believe to the very end. You might feel anxious early on, let it play out and then make smart decisions. If it’s fast, tuck in, turn off your brain. If it’s slow trust you can finish. Go fast the entire last mile and 1200. Don’t hesitate.” While I placed 4th and did not achieve my goal of top 3 and making the World Team, I learned the impact of accountability. I did everything on that list except achieve the desired outcome, make the team. So as I go into every future race I’m acknowledging I may not reach all my goals but if I can hold myself accountable to the ways I execute a race plan, that is what I can walk away being damn proud of.

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Bruce also refers to something that a lot of female runners deal with postpartum: stress incontinence. Bruce gives some tips for avoiding this issue while doing warmup drills, like doing them in the morning when your stomach and bladder are empty, but many women have also been helped by consulting a pelvic floor physiotherapist.

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