If you've been running for a while, particularly if you have a track background, you have probably done running drills in one form or another at some point in your running career. I have a strong track background and I was coached for some time by an Eastern European track coach, so I am certainly familiar with running drills. They are also sometimes called Plyometric Drills. There are many different forms of these exercises, but they all involve fast explosive muscle movements. They help build strength, speed, and running efficiency (or economy.)
My coach, Jack has Incorporated these drills into my December training schedule. When I read over the exercises he recommended, I was familiar with all of them. Today was the day to get out there and give them a try! Ideally, today would be a cross training recovery day since I ran long yesterday, but my work schedule is busy for the rest of the week and I wanted to be sure to get this workout in so I did it today.
I warmed up with a two mile jog over the trails to the Sacopee Valley Fairgrounds. These fairgrounds provide level paved and dirt roads which are closed to traffic. They aren't scenic or interesting, but I've found they work well for my faster paced running and I knew they'd be perfect for today's drills.
I did sets of 7 different exercises for 30 seconds each with 30 second jogs between each exercise and between each set. I was to do these sets of drills for a total of two miles, which worked out to about 3 1/2 sets of the seven exercises (one doesn't cover much ground hopping or kicking one's own butt.) It's been quite a few years, but they all felt familiar and smooth and fast right from the start. This workout made me feel like there is still a fast young track runner inside this tired old ultra running body! It was a lot of fun, and quite a good hard workout. I didn't feel it so much while I was doing the actual drills, but I was huffing and puffing and staggering on those 30 second recovery jogs!
The drills I did today were as follows:
1. run backwards
2. karaoke step (we used to call them leg criss-crosses before karaoke was invented) in one direction
3. karaoke in the other direction
4. butt kicks
7. all out sprint with fast turnover (this one doesn't hurt until you stop)
You can do an online search for running drills or plyomtric drills and see descriptions of these and other drills. It's a fun way to break up the monotony and it gives a great workout. Here is a good video demonstrating some of the drills. I'm sure I looked just as crisp, clean, and quick today as this woman looks in the video. :) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vcH97Dx8VCk