Running is a movement-based activity (yes, I know this comes as a shock) and your ability to run fast is directly proportional to your ability to move. If you are not able to move WELL you’ll never reach your running potential.

Most people don’t appreciate running as a skill. They see it as something that everyone is born to do and thus it doesn’t require “practice.” But running is a lot like other skills, such as playing the piano. And if you want to be able to play the piano well you’re not going to simply jam on the keys repeatedly in hopes that’ll one day make you a better pianist.

But this is exactly what many of us do in running. We run mile after mile after mile hoping that we’ll improve as runners without giving thought to the movements that comprise this skill. And if we would stop thinking about running as simply a mileage-based activity we would be a lot better off. It would allow us to step back, focus and refine our technique to become more efficient runners.

The specific movements that go into an optimal running stride are:

  • A slight forward body lean from the ankles. This allows you to take advantage of gravity, and not just muscles, for propulsion.
  • Relaxed hands, arms and shoulders. Any excess tension in these areas will slow you down as the legs follow the arms in the running stride.
  • Linear arm swing. Crossing the midline with the hands and arms will waste energy because it will be transferred rotationally, instead of straight ahead.
  • Minimal ground support time. The less time your feet spend on the ground, the faster you run.
  • Quick heel pull up. Using the hamstrings to engage this movement will improve your cadence by shortening the leg “lever” in your running stride.
  • Perception of bodyweight. Enhancing your perception of the body weight being on the balls of your feet will allow you to be a more fluid and relaxed runner.



  • ****ALWAYS start with this drill. Unless you have mastered perception you will not get the full benefits from the other drills.
  • Rock back and forth (slowly) from heels to toes to get a sense for where the “balls of your feet” are
  • Closing your eyes allows you to hone in more closely on the perception

Change of Support

  • Slight back and forth movement from left to right, initiated by a pull of the hamstrings
  • Be sure to move the arms in sync with the legs

Cycle Drill - Standing

  • Hands on hips and slight bend in knees
  • Focus on “scraping” the group behind you by pulling the heels STRAIGHT UP to the butt with the hamstrings
  • As you get better at this movement try to scrape the ground faster and faster each time

Cycle Drill - Running

  • Same movement as above but inserted into a slooooow run stride
  • Can perform this drill by cycling with the same leg continuously or alternating legs
  • DO NOT try to perform this drill unless you have perfected Cycle Drill Standing

Fall to Run

  • Lean forward from the ANKLES (with maintaining core integrity) and fall forward till you move into a run
  • Do not fall so forward that you have to put the brakes on with your first stride. Only fall far enough so you can use gravity to pull you forward


  • Slight back and forth movement from left to right, initiated by a pull of the hamstrings
  • Be sure to move the arms in sync with the legs

Toe Taps

  • USE THE HAMSTRING to pull the heel straight up to the butt
  • Heel does not move behind you and knee is not lifted (common mistakes)
  • Good drill to do with a wall or something behind you

Toe Taps - Dynamic

  • DO NOT perform this drill until you have perfected Toe Taps
  • Slight bounce on the ball of the foot while pulling the other foot up with the hamstring
  • Hint – before the foot hits the ground think about pulling up. This will soften the landing and increase the use of the hamstrings

Butt Kicks

  • Slight forward lean and on the balls of the feet
  • “Snap” the heels back to the butt by pulling with the hamstrings
  • Be sure to maintain the forward lean throughout the run stride

High Knees

  • Be sure to stay light, bouncy and springy on the ball of your feet throughout
  • Fast pull from the hamstrings brings the knee up high
  • Make sure you pump your arms in sync with your legs

Hands Together Running

  • Hands and arms straight out in front of you while running
  • Vertical motion of arms = too much bouncing up and down in your run stride
  • Moderate side to side motion of arms = effective change of support in your run stride