Top 5 Drills/Exercises for Running Injury Prevention and Increased Efficiency

This is part of a series of posts I’m doing focused on marathon training. To get “The .2” posts in your inbox, sign-up here!


So far this season we’ve talked about what your training cycle should look like and how to structure a week of training. To finish off the “Fundamentals” part of the series, I want to zoom in even more and talk about the drills and exercises that will help reduce the risk of running injury while training and improve your efficiency while running.


My Top-Five Drills/Exercises Every Runner Should Be Doing
(drum roll please) …


1) Leg Cycle Drill

This is a simple drill that teaches proper foot placement and helps to train the movement patterns of your lower body. Repetition and consistency here is key, so I like to recommend at least 20 on each leg before every run. But you can also do as much as you want of this drill throughout the day.


2) Ankling

Again, this drill emphasizes proper foot placement while also helping to improve your ground contact time. Sprinters spend a lot more time thinking about efficiency than most distance runners, and this is a drill that I happily admit to stealing from the sprint world. This can be done for 20-30 meters before your run, or as part of a warm-up for post-run strides or speed work.


3) 1-leg Bridge

A great glute strengthening exercise that is effective for all ability levels. Hugging the knee to your chest disengages your back muscles and forces the glute muscles to do the work. Start with holds of 3-5 seconds and build up to holding for 30 seconds on each leg. A perfect addition to any core routine you’re already doing.


4) 1-leg Squat

One of the most running specific exercises you can do. It’s challenging, so make sure to check out the video for important form cues and modifications to make the exercise easier for beginners. This strengthens all the external rotators and helps protect against injuries like ITBFS. 1 set of 10 on each leg is a good place to start.


5) Balance Drill

Balance is a very underrated skill for runners. The better your balance, the more efficiently your body can stabilize itself with each stride and the less energy you’ll waste. This drill only takes 30 seconds on each leg and will provide a quick boost to anyone’s balance.


Next week will be the first Q&A of the season, followed by a series of posts looking in-depth at the long run for marathon training. Make sure to sign-up here to get The .2 in your inbox!


About Coach Carl
Coach Carl is a USA Track & Field Level 2 endurance coach who works with runners of all ability levels to reach their goals. He has been featured in Runner’s World, Women’s Health, Men’s Fitness, and Competitor. For information on his coaching services, click here.