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Training Tips: Diagonals

Runners practicing their speed. Diagonals are a drill best run on a football or soccer field, but any grassy rectangular field will do. They can help you:

  • Practice and fine-tune your running form – at both slow and fast speeds
  • Help racers develop a finishing kick (the ability to sprint at the end of a distance race)
  • Improve your speed
  • Use interval training to improve your stamina more quickly

How to Do Them

  • Start at a corner of a rectangular field, like a football or soccer field
  • Run slowly, with good form across the goal line (the short side) of the field
  • Rather than turning to run along the sidelines (the long side), turn and run diagonally, cutting across the field from corner to the opposite corner
  • As you run the diagonal, ramp up your speed until you reach about 80% of your top speed
  • Make sure you continually focus on maintaining your form – this is the purpose of the drill
  • Once you reach the opposite corner, turn and run along the next goal line
  • Repeat this for 15 minutes. Work your way up to 30.

Why You Should Do Them

Diagonals are a drill made famous by Kenyan runners. They are most useful for racers, because they are run interval style. The benefits of interval training have been scientifically proven to help you increase both your speed and endurance more quickly than tempo running and long, slow recovery runs (although those both have their own purposes). Diagonals are also a way for you to practice your form. You can work on your foot strike, your posture, your lean, and your cadence – at different speeds. Running with good form will help you run more efficiently, but more importantly it will help you stay healthy. And, as a bonus, diagonals are run on grass, a soft surface that will also minimize the toll on your body.

This post is a part of our Training Tips series, where you can find tips on drills, exercises, and general training. Click here to see the full series.

Image By: Dave McLean
Tags: , , , ,
October 16th, 2012
Written By: Brett

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