When we think about running, keywords such as endurance, speed or strength often cross our minds. But one important piece of the mosaic for efficient and successful running is often forgotten: coordination.
Coordination refers to the interaction of certain muscle groups for the optimal utilization of available forces and is geared toward a resulting maximization of performance. Thus, coordination can help runners to channel the trained muscle power correctly and to achieve the highest possible speed with the smallest possible loss of energy. With better coordination you can economize your running style. Another goal of coordination training is injury prevention. The most beautiful and dynamic movement possible during running can help to prevent overstraining.
Now, how do you actually train coordination? For runners, running form drills are particularly suitable. Running form drills is the term we use to describe exercises in which certain parts of the running movement are more or less isolated and exaggerated. The aim is again to improve the interaction of the muscle groups needed for the various movements. In the following videos, multiple orienteering World champion and one of the best female mountain and trail runners in the world, will show you how:
The basic exercise for your ankles. The whole movement in the ankle is important here. The ball of the foot hardly lifts off the ground. The heel is responsible for the whole movement from bottom to top and back again. A stable upper body is important. The hip should not move sideways and the pelvis should not tilt. Also focus on arm work.
Walk like a stork
The stork walk is the perfect basic exercise for more stability, good hip extension and conscious walking. Our showcase model, multiple orienteering world champion and active runner Judith Wyder, shows this exercise in two variations: 1) flat foot and 2) on the toes.
With this exercise you train a strong kick from the calves. The whole movement mainly comes from the lower legs. The knees are as straight as possible. The tips of the toes point upwards during the flight phase and provide an active pre-tension. Keep an upright posture during the whole execution of this exercise.
Being a popular running drill, this exercise promotes an active knee stroke and a longer stride length while running. Make sure that the foot is pulled under the buttocks and that the knee is slightly raised in front of you. The faster the cadence, the better the exercise.
With this exercise you can also play around a little and change the rhythm at will. You can find an example of how to do this here.
Make sure your body’s center of gravity remains upright and that the knee or thigh reaches the horizontal. Try to stay stable in the torso and use your arms. The higher the cadence and knee height, the harder and more effective the exercise. This exercise can also be varied like the butt kickers exercise for example with several repetitions in a row on the same side.
Pogo jumps with knee drive
This exercise is quite demanding in that it requires high concentration for the correct timing. The legs land at the same time, but the left and right leg are lifted alternately. The main work comes from the calves. This exercise can be done in a first form with only slightly bent legs (towards the skipping position). Then the height of the skipping can slowly be increased. Make sure that the ground contact is as short as possible.
Straight leg bounds
During this running form drill, we generate propulsion below the body’s center of gravity. The effort comes from the buttocks, the rear thighs and during an active running step also from the calves. Run this way over a distance of about 20 meters and then bend the legs a little more from step to step until you are in a brisk pace with high knees and a high cadence. Keep the pace up for a few seconds and make sure you have good coordination! When you hear a kind of dragging of the shoes on the ground, you’re doing it perfectly.
Again, here goes an exercise that needs a little sense of rhythm and, depending on the situation, a little bit of mobility. The height of the leg can and should be adjusted individually. The leg should only be lifted to a height where the upper body is still stable and does not bend. Also, make sure the arms do not move and that the shoulders are relaxed. At first sight this exercise may not have much to do with running, but we promise you it does!
For this exercise, we present you two variations as well. On the one hand there is a variation in which the jumping jack is moved forward and sideways (Link DE) and on the other hand there is a variation in which the arms are moved in addition to the legs (propeller).
In your running.COACH training schedule, some of these exercises will be suggested to you on predefined days and displayed in the form of training videos. That way, you are provided with both ideas and clear instructions for exercises in the fields of strength, foot gymnastics, relaxation or stretching for your training.
Those who have not yet been convinced by the arguments of an economizing of the running style and injury prevention should at the latest let themselves be persuaded by the following: It makes your running look better! When was the last time you asked yourself who this worn and slumped creature with your starting number on their chest is supposed to be on your finisher photo? Right? Told you… 😉 So, let’s go!
Have fun trying it out!
Composed by: Marion Aebi (Content Manager), based on inputs from Gabriel Lombriser (running coach and running.COACH product manager)
This post is also available in DE.