8 essential running form drills

Skip with high knees (“A” skips)

Drive your knee up forcefully lifting you off the ground. Keep movements primarily in the sagittal plane. Keep your foot dorsiflexed, which means your toes drawn up towards your shin. This is a small skip since you land on the same foot and then switch. (Scroll down for videos of all the drills.)

Run with high knees

Similar to the “A” skips, but instead of skipping there is a quick transition from one foot to the other, just like running. Focus on breaking the vertical plane with your thigh each time.

“B” skips

This is just like the “A” skip, except after you drive the knee up, then extend the knee. Knee extension happens passively as you snap the leg back down with your glutes and hamstrings, pawing your foot to the ground.

Butt kicks (heel to butt)

Traditional butt kicks are usually performed incorrectly, swinging the heel in a half circle towards the butt. Instead, draw the keep up in a straight line towards the bottom of the butt or top of the hamstrings. To do this, allow the knee to come forward, but not quite as high as the high knees drill.

Power skip

This has all of the same points as the “A” skips except you are going for more height. Momentum is created by driving the knee up and also forcefully pushing off the ground.

Carioca drill

Most running is performed in the sagittal plane, but stabilizing also occurs in the frontal plane. The carioca drill is a side ways motion requiring adduction/abduction and coordination. Face sideways and cross your trailing leg in front and then behind and you continue in the sideways direction. Continue facing the same direction for your return trip.


Bounding is a higher intensity running drill designed to improve power and efficiency. Essentially bounding is just an exaggerated run with lots of vertical and horizontal displacement. Go for both height and distance with each stride. To keep from skipping, try jogging 5-10 yards before starting the drill. These can be performed on flat ground or uphill.



Strides are just controlled sprints. Gradually increase speed for 30-40 meters and then maintain high speed with good, controlled form for another 40-60 meters. The key is not to strain or sprint all out. Make it look easy. I like 70-100 meters for these on a relatively soft surface such as a rubberized track or turf.


Watch all the running form drills on video!

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Josiah Middaugh is the reigning XTERRA Pan America Champion and 2015 XTERRA World Champion. He has a master’s degree in kinesiology and has been a certified personal trainer for 15 years (NSCA-CSCS). 

Images and video by Matt Trappe

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