Running ABC

Early in 2016 I devised a series of “Technique Taster” sessions to introduce members of Witney Road Runners to some basic running technique concepts and tips.  Here’s what we got up to in the second session:

Session 2: Running ABC – adding agility and co-ordination to balance for a solid running technique foundation.

So many of us coming to running at a later stage of life won’t have done much (or any) specific work on agility, balance and co-ordination: the foundation of your running technique.

Focussing on the ABC of running gave me an opportunity to put together a session that would demonstrate that you don’t need to go for a run to get a good workout.

Given that Witney Road Runners don’t have any facilities to speak of, I’d scoped out a quiet corner of a street-lit car park, rarely used in the evenings, for an ABC circuit session.

The group warmed up while I set up the 6 simple circuit stations.  The group split into six even groups (one at each station) and carried out each exercise for 60 seconds, with a 30 second walk to the next station in between:

Agility 1: Cone weaving – a series of cones set over 20 metres to weave through at speed.

Co-ordination 1: Hopscotch – basically the simple playground game from years gone by: hop forward, alternating from left leg, to both legs, to right leg, to both legs.

Start with small forward jumps and work on regaining balance quickly before taking the next hop.  You can make the exercise more challenging by making the hops quicker or longer or both!

Balance 1: Single Leg Alphabet – stand on one leg and use the other to trace the alphabet in the space in front of you.  The bigger the movements, the more stimulation, the harder you’ll have to work to stay balanced.

Agility 2: Ladder run – running through a training ladder, touching both feet between each rung to promote fast feet.

Balance 2: Cone Compass – hold a cone (or a plastic bottle will do) while standing on one leg, lean forward to place the cone to “the north” of you (in front of you) and then return to the upright position.  Lean down to pick up the cone and return back upright.  Keep standing on one leg while working round each point of the compass on each leg.

To begin with, don’t place the cone too far away from you.  If you feel you want to stretch yourself, try placing it further away.  Another way to build the challenge is to switch from a compass to a clock face – placing the cone around the 12 numbers of a clock face.

The “south” position is the most challenging so to begin with you might want to skip it until you’ve got a solid balance base to work on.


Co-ordination 2: Four square – imagine you’re standing on a square divided into 2-by-2 grid.  Stand on one leg in one of the squares and hop your way around each of the four squares before swapping legs and repeating.

Begin with small hops around small squares.  As you build more confidence increase the size of the square to make the hops bigger.

We finished the session with a group run and a cool down, including the 6 basic stretches I encourage all my runners to do at the end of their sessions.


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