CrossFit to Cardio | Technique and Drills

Running is a simple sport, all you need to do is put on a pair of trainers, head out the door and put one foot in front of the other right? However running is also a skill, a skill which we need to spend time practicing if we want to see improvements the same way we would with other skills we learn in the box on a weekly basis.

Luckily running is a relatively simple skill to pick up compared to some more complex movements we're used to doing at CrossFit. It's a skill that should hopefully come pretty naturally, However there are several moving parts which need to be performed with good form if you want the movement to start to feel smooth.

Correct running form and technique will not only improve your efficiency and make you a better runner, it will also lower your chance of injury and improve overall running strength. Coming from CrossFit to running means you will have a benefit over some of those who only run, and that is strength. Many runners often neglect strength work and find their form can break down due to this.

So what is “correct” running form?


  • Head - Keep your head up, eyes looking in front of you, try not to look at your feet or the ground in front of you.

  • Shoulders - Shoulders should be back and try to keep relaxed especially when you're tired, otherwise you’ll find your shoulders starting to creep up towards your ears.

  • Arms - Elbows should be bent 90 degrees and you want to try and move your arms in a straight line rather than across your body. It often goes unnoticed how important your arms are in running but your legs will follow the arms. Ideally you want your arms to move with the opposite leg, if the left knee is driving forward the right arm should be driving forward at the same time. If you ever feel like you can't move your legs any faster, move your arms and I guarantee your legs will follow.

  • Hands - Hands should be relaxed, imagine running holding a crisp between your finger and thumb but trying not to break it.

  • Core - your core is your centre of gravity while running. All those planks and hollow rocks haven't been for nothing, a strong core = a strong runner. 

  • Hips - a slight lean forward from the hips rather than the shoulders is the ideal postion we are looking for. This will help activite your glutes which is where most of your running power comes from.

  • Knees - drive your knees forward and try to keep in a straight line over the top of your foot. If you are feeling tired concentrate on lifting your knees to get more out of your stride.

  • Feet - What Is the best way to land? Heel or forefoot? This topic can be controversial but stick with whatever comes naturally to you. Try not to over stride, your foot should land underneath your hips and not too far ahead of you. Push off from the ball of your foot.

In order to improve your running form,  see if you can include some of these drills into your training or as part of your warm up. Some of these you may have done before but really try and concentrate on the running element of the movement. If you've got space set out a 10 meter line and do these drills on the way out to the line then walk back. Repeat each one 3 times.

  1. High knees, with a slight lean forward at the hip drive your knees up and forward, move your arms in an exaggerated running movement. 

  2. Walking lunges, lunge forward on alternating legs moving the opposite arm at the same time, keeping the 90 degree bend at the elbow

  3. Heel flicks, click your heels up behind you as high as you can, but keep focus on trying to pull the ground with your foot rather than just tapping it with your toes each time.

  4. High knee skips, this one takes a bit of coordination. Skip as high as you can bringing opposite knee to opposite elbow. Try to power off from the ball off your foot.

  5. Fast feet, the floor is lava. Move your feet and arms as quickly as you can while keeping your body upright and your eyes focused forward. Try pumping your arms faster to speed up your feet.

  6. Strides, these require a bit more space, maybe add them to the end of your run. You'll probably need about 50m. Stride out with slightly over exaggerated form at about 80-90% effort.