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Three Endurance Technique Development Exercises for Runners

This is an excerpt from Developing Endurance edited by NSCA and Ben Reuter.

Arm Swings

The athlete sits on the floor with the legs extended straight in front of the body; the arms are bent at 90 degrees at the sides. The athlete begins swinging the arms forward and back slowly. She gradually increases the pace, focusing on pushing the elbows back and keeping the movement in the sagittal plane (forward and back). When the arms swing very quickly, the entire body may bounce up and down. If this happens, the athlete should focus on using core strength to maintain posture and limit any twisting or cross-body swinging.

Focus points: Developing a smooth arm swing forward and back with elbows bent and hands relaxed

Butt Kicks

This is a traditional track and field drill that emphasizes the rapid hamstring pull. The athlete should allow the hips and knees to flex in order to maintain the range of motion specific to the running stride. While running slowly forward, the athlete alternately lifts the ankle vertically by quickly pulling upward with the hamstring. He begins slowly at first. The athlete can gradually increase foot speed so that he is pulling the heels up very quickly and taking a greater number of steps while moving forward very slowly (fast feet, slow body). The arms must be coordinated with the legs during this drill. The drill can also be done stationary.

Focus points: Mid-foot striking, awareness of using the hamstring to pull the heel upward, maintenance of a high stride rate, practicing the arm swing


The athlete begins by walking, running, or simply taking one or two running steps to build momentum. He pushes explosively off the ground with the back leg, driving the opposite knee up and forward to gain height and distance. The athlete keeps the heel of the driving knee under the hip, ready to land on the ball of the foot. On landing, the athlete immediately drives the other knee up and forward and pushes off the ground with the other leg. The athlete may move the arms in opposition to the legs as in running, or he may use a double-arm swing pattern, pumping with each stride. The arms should swing or drive forward when the leg pushes off the ground and should recover back just before landing to drive with the next takeoff. For this drill, the coach should emphasize the amount of time that the athlete can hang in the air. The more explosive the athlete is, the longer he will be able to hang with each stride.

Focus points: Minimizing contact time, mid-foot striking beneath the center of gravity

Learn more about Developing Endurance.

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Developing Endurance

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From the National Strength and Conditioning Association comes the definitive resource for developing endurance training programs that maximize performance and minimize injuries.
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From the National Strength and Conditioning Association comes the definitive resource for developing endurance training programs that maximize performance and minimize injuries.

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