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How Turnover Drills Work

Running Turnover Drills
Turnover drills can get you out of bad running habits.
Turnover drills can get you out of bad running habits.

"What's wrong with the way I'm running?" you might ask. "It works for me." Well, that may be, but when it comes to running, like most things, we're creatures of habit. You get stuck in a comfortable stride, and as you age, you slow down. Turnover drills will put the pep back in your step, but the key is speeding up gradually [source: Galloway]. To do a turnover drill:

  1. Slowly jog about half to three-quarters of a mile.
  2. Begin to run at your normal pace. Once you've hit your stride, start your stopwatch, and for 1 minute count the times your right foot pushes off. Multiply by two. That's your turnover rate.
  3. Jog a bit more at slow speed, and then repeat Step 2, trying to increase the number of footfalls per minute by two to five.
  4. Repeat up to four more times, trying to increase your footfalls every time. Stop increasing the number of footfalls when you're not running comfortably anymore.

Run the turnover drills four to six times, two or three times a week, and you should see some improvement in your speeds within a few months. If you have trouble increasing your cadence, try shortening your stride for the first 10 or 15 footfalls of each drill. This will relax your muscles and improve speed [source: Galloway]. Another trick to improve speed is to stay light on your feet. Imagine you're running on thin ice. Try for a clearance of less than an inch off the ground. Another tip: Don't lean forward -- that will cut your turnover rate by causing your leg muscles to tighten. Stay upright, with your head, shoulders and body aligned.

Now that you know how to run a turnover drill, let's talk about why you should. On the next page, we'll discuss what your goals should be and how turnover drills can help more than just your speed.