#Backwards #Running Drills to aid in #Barefoot #Running

backwards running

The so-called latest ‘craze’ toward backwards running & backwards running races has me confused. The media are making this out to a “new, on-the-edge phenomenon that is taking the running world by storm”. Well, for starters, running backwards as a form of physical fitness has been around for decades (and maybe longer!). Thus, it is certainly NOT a new fad by any means. Also, as a training tool for most sports (basketball, baseball, volleyball, soccer, football, hockey etc.), backwards running has been an integral part of preparation for competition since God knows how long. Personally, I started backwards running as a Grade One student (age 6) in preparation for our track and field competition and continue to use it to this day.

With this in mind, I am going to list a series of backwards running drills that I use to train my Team Over The Top clients and me:

  1. backward on a straight section of track or road for 5o to 100 metres x 10 reps
  2. backward on 1 leg for 25 to 50 metres x 10 reps. Repeat on other leg
  3. backward and forward alternate every 10 metres for 100 metres
  4. backward up and down a hill of 250 to 350 metres at 6 to 8% grade
  5. backward and forward alternate every 10 metres up and down the same hill
  6. backward on 1 leg up and down a smaller hill. Try to do the hill on 1 leg only before switching to the other leg. You may have to work up to this

Doing these once per week will:

  1. improve your balance
  2. help you centre the body over your feet
  3. force you to land more on the mid-foot – lighter and quicker on the feet
  4. help protect your knees from excessive impact (especially on hills)
  5. improve your ability to fire from the calves, hamstrings and gluteals whilst running

If you stick with a regular backwards running session and incorporate it into your barefoot running, the transition will be much smoother. You may even end up running almost as fast backwards as forwards!

A word of caution, though – make sure you know the terrain and/or have someone coaching you when running backwards. Otherwise, you may end up ass over tea kettle…or worse!

coach Jeff


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