9 Great Track Drills To Make You A Faster Runner

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Although the bulk of the track exercises in workouts for sprinters does involve sprinting or running at different intervals, there are also other very effective track and field drills or other running drills that focus on sprinting and running form to improve technique, strength, explosive speed, and turnover.

But, what are the best drills for track running? What are helpful sprint drills for track that will build your speed, improve your running form, and help you become a better runner?

In this article, we will explain the benefits of track and field drills, as well as examples of helpful track drills, and general drills for track running to help you become a faster, stronger, and more injury-resilient runner.

We will cover: 

  • 9 Great Track Drills To Make Your A Faster Runner

Let’s dive in! 

People on a track doing running drills with small hurdles.

9 Great Track Drills To Make Your A Faster Runner

Running drills such as A skips, B skips, high knees, and Cariocas can be a great way to get your body warmed up before beginning your sprinting track workouts.

#1: A Skips

Here are the basic steps for how to do a-skips.

  1. Stand upright with your core and glutes engaged, chest up, arms at your sides, and feet hip-width apart.
  2. Hop on the ball of your right foot, keeping the right leg straight, as you simultaneously use your core to draw your left leg up so that your thigh is at least parallel to the ground. Dorsiflex your toes on the left foot so that they are pointing toward the sky.
  3. Rapidly claw your left foot to the ground, directly under your center of mass like a prancing horse, landing on the ball of your foot near the toes. You won’t be progressing very far forward.
  4. Now shift your weight onto the ball of your left foot, bringing the right leg up to hip height, again with your thigh parallel to the ground.
  5. Alternate sides, maintaining a bounce to your skip.
  6. Pump your arms as if sprinting. 

Start with just 20-30 meters, and then take a brief rest and return to your starting position.

A person warming up on a track by doing high knees.

#2: High Knees

High knees is a classic running drill that helps improve your sprinting and running form by focusing on the knee drive. It also strengthens your core and can help improve turnover.

Essentially, to perform high knees, drive your knees upward as high as you can towards your chest, landing on the ball of your foot before rapidly and explosively bringing your leg back up towards your chest. 

Pump your arms vigorously in opposition to your legs to bring your knee upward. Do not focus on achieving a rapid horizontal velocity.

Rather, the focus should really be on driving your knees up as high as possible and increasing your turnover.

A person bounding on a track.

#3: Cariocas

Cariocas or grapevines are a good trunk and hip mobility running drill. You travel sideways in this track drill.

  1. Stand upright with good posture and your feet hip-width apart. Bring your arms out to the sides like the letter T.
  2. Press into your left foot to push off, bringing it behind the right foot as you transfer your weight onto the left foot.
  3. Step your right foot further to the right (out to the side) so that you’re standing back upright with both feet.
  4. Next, cross your left foot in front of your body in front of your right foot, drive your knee up towards your chest, and step your weight down onto your left foot
  5. Step your right foot out to the right again to continue traveling laterally.
  6. Continue shuffling to the right with this pattern, alternating moving your left foot first behind and then in front of the right foot.
  7. Reverse directions to come back, starting with bringing the right foot behind the left foot, stepping the left foot to the left, and then bringing the right foot in front of the left foot.

As you do this running drill, sweep your arms across your body in a reciprocal pattern to your hips, as you would with running, but moving more parallel to the ground across and behind your body rather than forward and back next to your body.

#4: Bounding

Bounding is essentially exaggerated skipping, but rather than trying to achieve rapid horizontal progression, you want to focus on maximizing your vertical gain with each bounding step. 

Explode off of your forefoot using your calf muscles and arms to propel your body into the air.

A person doing the high knees exercise.

#5: Hops

Single-leg hops with a stiff ankle help you generate explosive power and stability in your ankles. Begin with only 10 to 20 meters per leg.

#6: Sprinting Backwards

There are a variety of benefits of running backward, so incorporating some backward sprinting into your track drills is a good way to challenge your neuromuscular system in different ways. 

Make sure that you have ample room between you and the next runner and that you are running on the straightaway of the track. Glance periodically over your shoulder to make sure that you are safe.

#7: Butt Kicks

During the butt kicks drill, pump your arms vigorously while you bring your legs up quickly, tapping your heel to your butt.

A person running with a parachute.

#8: Resisted Sprint Drills for Track

One of the most common types of sprint drills for track to get faster and stronger while simultaneously improving your running form is sprints with resistance.

Speed training with resistance involves performing sprints with some form of resistance. This typically includes a sled push or pull, running with a parachute, running with a partner who is pulling back on you via a resistance band tethered around your hips, or even sprinting with a weighted vest.

Depending on the form of resistance that you are using and the structure of your workout, you might begin the sprint with the form of resistance and then, halfway through, release the resistance and then sprint unencumbered to achieve maximal speed.

For example, with a resisted parachute sprint, you might sprint 50 meters with the parachute and then release the parachute for the final 50 meters. 

The purpose of this is that sprinting with the resistance increases your strength, and then by removing the added resistance, it feels all that much easier to sprint without the parachute. 

Therefore, you can increase your turnover and maximal speed and truly accelerate to achieve your top sprinting velocity.

Sprinting with a weighted vest or doing a sled pull provides a similar challenge.

A weighted vest is a way to combine strength training with speed training to build explosive power and leg strength in a more functional way than traditional strength training exercises.

A man pushing a weighted sled in a gym.

#9: Sprinting and Track Drills Hybrid Workout

You can get creative with your track workouts when trying to incorporate track drills while simultaneously working on improving your speed.

Rather than just doing all of your running drills at the beginning of your workout and then moving on to sprinting at various intervals on the track, you can incorporate strengthening exercises, running drills, and plyometrics in between intervals. 

This will challenge your body by requiring you to run on tired legs while developing other aspects of your fitness, such as anaerobic capacity, muscular strength, neuromuscular coordination, power, and explosive speed.

For example, you might perform A skips for the first 100 meters around the curve at the track and then sprint the next 100 meters

Then, you might do B skips for the next 100 meters along the curve. Then, you might sprint the next 100 meters back to the finish line.

Two men running on a track.

For the second lap of the track, you could do bounding for the first 100 meters, then sprint. Then you could move onto high knees. 

For the final straightaway, you could do 50 meters doing cariocas in one direction and then 50 meters facing the other direction.

You can use this type of format with as many laps as you would like. 

You can even stop at the end of a straightaway and perform plyometric exercises such as tuck jumps, jump squats, and burpees, particularly if you are looking to do track and field drills for field exercises such as the long jump, triple jump, and high jump. 

Incorporating jump training in your workouts will help build that explosive jumping power that you need.

Track drills for sprinters are as much about running fast as they are about improving your technique. Make sure you are working on your running form.

For all track drills, including things like A skips and high knees, ensure your turnover (cadence) is fast and that you are landing on your forefoot.

Begin with just 20-30 meters and then progress the distance of your track drills. The focus should be on technique, not distance.

For an even more in-depth explanation of some of these drills individually, check out our guides to A-Skips and Carioca.

A woman in red leggings doing high knees.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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