Treadmill Drills to Hone Your Run Skills

Be conscious as to whether you are too collapsed through the hips and running slightly seated. Note whether you are squeezing your shoulder blades too much, holding your chin and head too far back or stopping yourself from falling forward into your next stride.

Basic Drills

Try the following drills on a treadmill to get yourself in tune with different components of your run stride. They are great for isolating areas for improvement.

Basic Knee Lift
Run with an exaggerated knee lift, and work from moderate to extreme knee lift while maintaining cadence. Make sure your knees are tracking straight and not travelling outward.

High Heel Lift
Gradually work your heel lift from slightly higher to lightly kicking your butt (if you're flexible enough). Maintain normal run cadence. Look for imbalances and work on quad flexibility.

Partner Posture Drill No. 1
Have a partner put slight hand pressure on your lower back at the sacrum as you run (make sure you feel balanced and stable first and that the hand pressure is quite light). Feel the forward lean in your hips and compensate slightly by lifting your heel about one inch higher on recovery after toeing off while maintaining cadence. Visualize this position once the hand pressure is removed.

Partner Posture Drill No. 2
Have your partner put slight hand pressure between your shoulder blades and feel the forward lean from your chest. Try to run tall through your hips and feel your center of gravity move forward from the sternum. Don't collapse at the hips.

Partner Posture Drill No. 3
Your partner places slight hand pressure on the top of your head. Think about running with a low, even gait with no excessive bouncing. Afterwards, visualize running under a low ceiling. Excessive bounce would cause you to bang your head. This will emphasize forward lean.

Many triathletes cringe at the thought of spending long sessions running on the spot. Certainly, stepping onto a moving belt for one to two hours at a time without a clear plan can put you on the fast track to burnout.  But you can integrate these suggestions and drills into a myriad of aerobic, hill and threshold sets—both on the treadmill and on the road—to make them interesting and effective.

LifeSport head coach Lance Watson has coached a number of Ironman, Olympic and age-group champions. He enjoys coaching athletes of all abilities who are passionate about sport and personal excellence. Visit or e-mail him at for coaching enquiries.

Related Articles:

      • Back to School: Learn Your A, B and Cs

      • Hit the Treadmill for a Fast 10K

      • Treadmill Threshold Workouts


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