Track Day: Running Drills & Skills

I recently spent a morning at the track with the Golden Gate Triathlon Club. We discussed and practiced running as a skill. Practicing the skill of running can lead to improved performance and help with injury prevention. We discussed WHY we do drills and the multiple purposes the drills serve to give context and hopefully get everyone engaged in the process. Big thank you to Mike Olzinski of Purplepatch Fitness for organizing the day. Here is what we discussed. 


Movement variability

LOTs to be unpacked here as it is a complex subject, but here is a brief overview. Variability is the variations in movement over multiple repetitions of a skill or task. For our purposes think of variability as your available movement options. Simply, we want to increase your movement options. You want to have more options available to you for when you are fatigued or challenged to move away from your preferred pattern. A decrease in, or fewer, movement options is known to be a cause of repetitive stress injuries. 

So one of the benefits of engaging in this type of warm up (see below) is that we are adding to the available "filing system" in your brain of movement options. 

Kinesthetic awareness or body awareness 

We talked about developing a kinesthetic awareness as an athlete. Essentially begin to practice listening to your body and developing awareness. The warm up is a kinesthetic screen for yourself. How does your movement feel? How is your body reacting to different challenges, different movements, different speeds, and different intensities? Is it symmetrical, does it hurt, is it stiff? Observe your posture, rhythm, movement quality, ASYMMETRIES, reflexiveness, timing, coordination etc…

Drills and skills

The drills themselves are exaggerated movements which are meant to impart a feeling which gives us context for a desired piece or quality of running gait. They are to be done at multiple speeds and in multiple planes of movement.

We discussed a few items which can correlate to injury

  • Cadence
  • Sound - asymmetrical or overall volume 
  • Asymmetries
  • Controlling forces - how well do you control your joint positions when your foot hits the ground.

Our warm up and drills in order: 



  • Donkey-Kicks and Fire Hydrants
  • Bear Crawl
  • Inch Worms
  • Lateral Toe Taps 




Side steps

Karioka walk

Karioka skip

Backward walk with heel to butt and big hip extension

Backward skip

Dribbles over ankle

Skip for height

Skip for distance