Running Exercises – Improving Running Technique

This article presents a series of fundamental coordination exercises to improve running technique, illustrated by our partner running.COACH.

Coordination: a fundamental role

Coordination is crucial to help runners optimize the use of muscular power and achieve maximum speed with minimal energy expenditure. Additionally, coordination training aims to prevent injuries by enhancing the fluidity and dynamism of movements during running.

The exercises, known as the ABC of running, aim to isolate and amplify certain parts of the running movement to improve the interaction of the involved muscle groups. In the following videos, Judith Wyder, multiple world champion in orienteering and one of the world’s top mountain and trail runners, will demonstrate how to perform them correctly.

Ankle Exercise

The fundamental exercise to strengthen the ankles focuses on the entire range of motion of the joint. It is crucial that the soles of the feet lift slightly off the ground while the heel completes the full movement from top to bottom and vice versa. Maintaining a stable upper body is crucial: the hips should not sway laterally, and the pelvis should not tilt. It is equally important to pay attention to the involvement of the arms during the exercise.

Stork Walk

The stork walk is an essential exercise to improve stability, extend the hip, and develop a more conscious walk. Judith Wyder, multiple world champion in orienteering and passionate runner, presents this exercise in two variations: the first performed flat-footed and the second on tiptoes.

Ankle jumps

This exercise aims to strengthen the calves through a vigorous push-off. The main force is focused on the lower part of the legs, with the knees kept as straight as possible. During the “flight phase,” the toes are pointed upward, generating active tension. It is crucial to maintain an upright posture throughout the exercise.

Heel Exercise (Butt kicks)

The heel exercise aims to provide an active knee lift and extend the stride during running. It is important to pull the foot under the glutes and slightly lift the knee in front of you. Increasing the pace of steps enhances the effectiveness of the exercise. You can vary the pace as desired to make the exercise more dynamic.


It is essential to keep the body’s center of gravity vertical and try to bring the knee or thigh into a horizontal position during the execution of the exercise. Keep the torso stable and use the arms to maintain balance. Increasing the cadence and height of the knee makes the exercise more rigorous and effective. You can vary the exercise by performing multiple repetitions on the same side, as in the heel exercise.

For professional runners, it is also recommended to include the knee lift exercise and a combination of heel and knee lift exercises to maximize training effects.

Bouncing Jumps

This exercise requires concentration and precise timing. The legs land simultaneously but lift alternately. The main work involves the calf muscles. Initially, perform it with slightly bent legs, then gradually increase the height of the jump. It is crucial to minimize contact with the ground.

Scissor Running

In running, the push-off occurs below the center of gravity, involving glutes, hamstrings, and calves. Perform the scissor runs over a distance of about 20 meters, gradually bending the legs to achieve a lively step with high knees and high frequency. Maintain the pace for a few seconds, focusing on coordination. Feeling the “grind” of the foot on the ground indicates correct execution of the scissor runs.

Jumping Jacks

This exercise requires rhythm and flexibility, with leg height adjusted individually. The leg should only be raised to a height that keeps the upper body stable. It is important to keep the arms still and the shoulders relaxed. Although it may not seem directly related to running, it is essential for its improvement. There are two variations: one with forward and side jumps, and the other with coordinated arm and leg movements (windmill).

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