3 Drills to Improve Running Stride and Speed

The sport of running seems pretty simple on the surface.  You might think that all you need is a good pair of shoes and the open road but as I mentioned in my previous post, there’s a bit more that goes into the sport of running.

No, I am not talking about all the fancy gadgets and gear (although that’s fun too), I’m referring to the mechanics of running and the importance of mobility. 

Being fast and strong requires mobility and full range of motion.  Last week, I outlined progressions of two different functional hip mobility exercises using the Ultimate Sandbag Core Bag that you should be including as part of your warm-up.  

Today, I’ll be sharing three different drills that you can incorporate into your routine following those mobility drills that will help to not only improve your running stride but also your running mechanics and speed.

3 Running Drills to Help Improve Both Stride and Speed

By incorporating the hip mobility exercises and these drills into your routine, it will help you to increase full you extension with one leg at the hip while reaching flexion with the other which equates to better form and faster speed.

3 Running Drills to Help Improve Both Form and Speed

High Knees

Benefits: Forces hip flexors to drive knees up.

How to perform:  Drive your knee to up toward your chest while bouncing off your toes.  As you drive one knee high, bounce off the toe off the opposite leg.  Keep foot in a dorsi-flexed position (flat, not pointed), making sure not to land on your heel.  Perform for about 20 meters. 


Benefits: Improves running coordination and push off power.

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How to perform: Like high knees, you will keep your foot dorsi-flexed.  Use your arms to drive you forward in a quick, powerful skipping motion focusing on height of each skip, concentrating on the push-off. Perform for about 20-30 meters.

Acceleration Wall Drill

Benefits: Reinforces acceleration and drive for maximum speed.

How to perform: Lean on a wall, fence or other fixed object and lean at a diagonal angle so that your ears, shoulders, hips and knees are in a straight line. Drive one knee up off the ground keeping the shin parallel to the body then switch.  Beginners can start by hold this posture for about 15 seconds then progress to marching (holding the same position) and then singles or alternating with quick drives.  Be sure to maintain the tall posture and finish strong.

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About me

Annmarie is a self proclaimed foodie, avid long distance runner and functional fitness coach. A DVRT Master Trainer, HKC Instructor and food allergy sufferer, she writes about strength training for runners as well as shares allergy friendly recipes for busy athletes.   She is also the owner of Strength In Motion Studio, mother of two sassy sisters and wife to a chronically busy chiropractor.   Subscribe by email for updates to get the latest workouts, advice and recipes straight to your inbox!


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Reply March 1, 2017

ok Im a little prideful right now BUT BUT BUT I AM DOING ALL OF THESE in anticipation of my marathon in may!

Susie @ Suzlyfe
Reply March 1, 2017

All of these are so good! Marathon runners often think that drills are for the shorter distances, but drills are beneficial for alL!

Reply March 1, 2017

Great tips to dial in that speed with drills! I sometimes think about form drills in a race when I'm getting fatigued and sloppy to "reset" . . .
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Linz @ Itz Linz
Reply March 1, 2017

ok i def need to get on these as i'm training for a half marathon and really struggling right now!
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Reply March 1, 2017

These are great drills. And they're so much fun, too!

Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner
Reply March 1, 2017

I used to do those drills when I first started running. Have no idea why I stopped! Thanks for the reminder
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Kimberly G
Reply March 1, 2017

I never heard of the acceleration wall drill - that's a new drill I will be incorporating! i love high knees and skipping!

angela @ happy fit mama
Reply March 1, 2017

I love the acceleration wall drill. YOu really can feel the power in it.

Julie @ Running in a Skirt
Reply March 1, 2017

Ohhh good stuff! I'm going to do these at the park today! It's already 60 degrees!!!! Great photo shoot too!

Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home
Reply March 1, 2017

Interestingly, last winter when I was doing pool running, when I returned to the road, I found that I had a much improved stride! Who knew?

Jen @ pretty little grub
Reply March 1, 2017

I'm terrible at doing drills as in I never do them. But I do need to up my cadence so I know I should.

Laura @ This Runner's Recipes
Reply March 1, 2017

That acceleration drill sounds fun! I like drills for improving cadence and form - muscle memory at work!

Patricia @Sweet and Strong
Reply March 1, 2017

I remember in high school track I used to envy this runner that had amazing stride. While I don't really run for time, I would be curious if these moves would help me get my feet up off the ground easier, as sometimes I find myself dragging during a run.

Nicole @ Fitful Focus
Reply March 1, 2017

I need to start doing this. I want to get faster like youuuu!!! hehe

Vicky Cristina
Reply March 1, 2017

they're really useful tips. It's so hard for me to improve my speed. I hope that your tips will be effective to me
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Reply March 2, 2017

It seems like running has become the ultimate hype this spring with all those marathons around. I'm also training for a half marathon with SportMe runner app, which calculates distance, pace, time and calories and adjusts running plans to my progress

Reply March 2, 2017

a lot of useful tips here. Thank you for your post.I couldn't improve my speed I thought until I read your post. I really want to get faster like you
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Reply March 5, 2017

I definitely need to work on speed!! I'm like that herd of turtles through peanut butter when I run...or at least that's how I feel sometimes. :)

Agness of Run Agness Run
Reply March 6, 2017

I needed these drills. I believe they are quite helpful and motivating, Annmarie!

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