4 Power Drills to Improve Running Performance

Conventional athletic drills like bounding, skipping and lunging were only used by elite long-distance runners. But fitness drills have become more widely-used by the general running community as athletes and coaches have learned how these exercises can benefit performance and health.

When to Do Drills

For best results, perform these exercises after your warm-up (jog or run easy for 15 to 20 minutes), and preferably on a day of easy to moderate running. For the first  4 to 5 weeks, complete one drill session per week, and then increase to two weekly sessions for the remainder of the season.

More: 10 Running-Specific Strength Training Exercises

Where to Do Drills

Although you can perform these exercises almost anywhere, it's best to find a track or athletic field with a softer surface to reduce impact. Wear flexible, lightweight shoes to accentuate plantar flexion and power through the prime movers (hamstrings, glutes, quads).

Athletic drills have been used for decades to improve coordination and form, prevent injury, and increase stability and power. They're also great to break up the monotony of your day-to-day training. These four low-impact drills will improve balance and ultimately increase stride length without reducing cadence.

More: 5 Core Exercises That Increase Stability and Running Efficiency

Lunges

Lunges strengthen the quadriceps and hamstrings, and improve proprioception and balance.

  • Stand with feet together and your hands on your waist.
  • Step forward 2 to 3 feet, then lower your rear leg to create two 90-degree angles—one with the rear leg and one with the front leg.
  • With the majority of your weight on your front leg, stand up and bring your feet back to the starting position.
  • Step forward with the opposite leg and repeat the exercise.

Start with 6 to 7 lunges on each leg. Work up to 10.

Key Tips for lunges:

  • Make sure the shin of the rear leg stays parallel to the ground, and keep your back leg off the ground.
  • Don't let the knee extend past your foot—this will cause strain on the patella.

More: 9 Single-Leg Exercises to Prevent Running Injuries

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About the Author

Pete Rea

ZAP Fitness is a Reebok sponsored nonprofit facility that supports post-collegiate distance runners in Blowing Rock, North Carolina. ZAP puts on adult running camps during the summer, and is available for retreats all year. The facility has a state-of-the-art weight room, a bio-lab for physiological testing and a 24-bed lodge. Coaches at the facility include two-time Olympic trials qualifier Zika Rea, Ryan Warrenburg and head coach Pete Rea. Visit zapfitness.com, check out ZAP's Facebook page for more info, or call 828-295-6198.

ZAP Fitness is a Reebok sponsored nonprofit facility that supports post-collegiate distance runners in Blowing Rock, North Carolina. ZAP puts on adult running camps during the summer, and is available for retreats all year. The facility has a state-of-the-art weight room, a bio-lab for physiological testing and a 24-bed lodge. Coaches at the facility include two-time Olympic trials qualifier Zika Rea, Ryan Warrenburg and head coach Pete Rea. Visit zapfitness.com, check out ZAP's Facebook page for more info, or call 828-295-6198.

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