• chrisskidmore

Why I still love track drills

Because they work. Wow, that was was easy, time for a cup of tea…

Oh, apparently it’s not a blog if it’s only one sentence, who knew?

I was introduced to track drills in 1986, the year I started athletics. Before you ask, I was very, very young. Very. I had the pleasure of belonging to the Peterborough Athletics Club for many years as a sprinter, and track drills sat at the heart of everything I did there.

So, what are they? Put simply, a track drill is a set of exaggerated movements which replicate a specific action involved in running. Track drills can be used to warm up, to induce fatigue, or to improve form and technique. The beauty of them is that they are so versatile, and don’t require any equipment. You can also do many of them on a treadmill as an alternative.

Here's an example of a simple warm-up drill. These are called "Side-taps" (you'll find most of the names do what they say on the tin!). It's a nice warm-up drill which can be done on the treadmill, or by travelling along and reversing the direction to return to base. It helps get the muscles moving, develops balance and co-ordination, and I find it really good for loosening the hips and back.

One of my absolute favourite drills is "High Knees". It involves replicating the fundamental action of running, amplifying the action of raising the knees and bending the arms. It can be done on the spot, on a treadmill, or in a forward motion. That's it. That's all it is.

So what does it do for you? Simple. It makes you really, really tired, really quickly. Feel that pain in your legs? That's lactic acid, it's great. Lactic acid is a by-product of working at your maximum capacity, and the more often you work at your maximum, the fitter and stronger you'll get.

More than that, it helps develop balance and co-ordination, and uses the big muscles (legs and butt) so you can burn loads of calories quickly.

All of my clients are used to having the word "arms!" shouted at them periodically. When you do this drill, it's not just the legs that need to work. Seeing footballers run about the pitch with their arms held rigid is a real bugbear of mine. I mean, it really upsets me. You use your arms naturally when you walk or run, so make sure they are part of the exaggerated movement of the High Knees drill.

Drills such as High Knees are infinitely adaptable. Lower the effort level and you've got a great warm up, ramp it up and you're training just like an elite athelete. I've even used this exercise at walking pace with a stroke recovery class to improve balance.

photo credit: Peterborough Evening Telegraph

I have used track drills in my own training since the beginning, they really do offer big fitness benefits.

You don't need to be an athlete to try them. If you want to be fitter, stronger, faster, more co-ordinated, then they are definitely for you.

Oh, by the way, this was me in the early 90s. I, know, right?

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