Agility, balance and coordination
Many people think that running isn't a sport that requires skill, that you just put on your trainers and go out the door, and in a way that's true.....
But working on agility, balance and coordination can really enhance your running; reducing injury risk and improving performance. Running is, after all, standing on one leg at speed; so it turns out there are ways of improving your running "skill"!
Here are a few exercises to try as part of a warm up to get your running skills honed;
Standing on one leg
Being able to stand tall and stable on one leg is a key skill in running, any wobbles will be transmitted up the body and introduce rotational or sideways forces your body isn't well adapted to control when you run. Practicing standing on one leg whenever you can really helps; brushing your teeth, waiting for the kettle/printer/microwave, standing in a queue etc. Make it harder by closing your eyes or spelling out your name with the leg that's in the air!
Hopping and landing the hop without touching the other foot down or a wobble is a great way to progress your agility and balance for running. You can progress this by hopping down onto the floor from the bottom step or the stairs or, once you've landed the hop, hopping forwards to land on both legs.
The grapevine in a sideways movement where you step out to the side and the back foot steps over the front, you step out in the same direction again and the back foot crosses over behind you - continuing as you travel in one direction before heading back the other way after 10+ meters. A great test of coordination! This video (not mine) shows you what it looks like; https://youtu.be/3lBOQ5A1QrQ
Good old fashioned skipping practices your agility and balance on the one leg hop as well as your coordination. Make this more of a challenge by either trying to add height on the hop, or by imagining the ground is red hot and you have to pick your feet up as soon as you land.
Start on two feet, hop into one, bounce onto two feet, hop onto the other foot, bounce onto two feet and continue. A brilliant further test of all three of our skills; agility, balance and coordination!
Hop and Stick
Taking the hopping skills up a level...! Jump in random directions (forwards, backwards, sideways, up, down) and land the hop with no wobbling or touch down of the other foot!
Handy to do with a running buddy so you can have someone check where you are going without having to twist and look over your own shoulder. Stay light on your feet and up on your toes, great for coordination.
Trail running will naturally put all these skills into practice. Concentrate on the terrain around you and your body will learn how to adjust your stride, your foot landing and your centre of gravity to find the best way to run!