Lauf-ABC: Effizienter Laufen mit Kristin Liepold

Active foot contact, dynamic impression, conscious use of the arms - certain aspects of an efficient running style can be specifically emphasized through technical exercises and the movement pattern can be integrated. After a theoretical excursion into the world of motor skills, Kristin Liepold will show you exercises that can make your running style more effective.

What actually is learning?

The topic of running abc and thus motor learning should begin with a brief digression on what learning actually means. An open, almost rhetorical question. For example, one definition could be that learning is a process of acquisition. But how does it work?

Something is being mastered that previously did not work in this way. An athlete can therefore run more economically through a few exercises. Kind of exciting, isn't it?

constant dripping wears away the stone

This statement is often made when learning to move becomes the focus. One task of our motor system is the control of movement and the associated reaction to environmental conditions or tasks. There are a number of attempts to explain the steering and control of movements. A highly interesting topic when you consider how everyday exercise is for us. The structures and theories of motor skills research are dense and confused.

Man a machine?

There are approaches that compare humans to computers. An ideal technical model is given as input into the system and the ideal movement can be carried out by the athlete.

improve movements

Practice shows that under slightly changed conditions, the movement no longer works or the supposedly biomechanically ideal movement leads to a loss of performance. Humans are susceptible to external disruptive factors and are therefore not machines that work the same way every day, anytime and anywhere. We don't function, we live and experience.

Detached from the theoretical background knowledge, exercises can make the economy of the movement more effective. An important adjusting screw is the variation of the situation and the movement pattern that is taking place. This always results in new stimuli for the organism, to which it must respond with an action. Similar to the variation of stimuli and intensities in athletic training. Constantly training only on the basis leads to performance stagnation in the long term. Likewise, it is of no use mastering an exercise from the running ABC to perfection if nothing changes in the actual running style, or more precisely, in the personal best time. Rather, there is the assumption that, in contrast to the series of exercises, fields of experience and learning can cause mutually beneficial learning and experience processes and trigger positive effects.

Notes on the exercise suggestions 1

Countless variations are conceivable when learning, practicing and training. In the following, some tasks will be presented, some of which differ greatly in the movement sequences. Recall the introductory discussion of easy and hard.

Try the exercises and subjectively evaluate which ones are easier. It is possible to try these first. Remember that you can grow with your tasks. It is obvious that a newcomer can find other content easier than an advanced user and that the expert can carry out supposed beginner exercises just as elegantly with a little specific experience.

Notes on the exercise suggestions 2

In order to be able to perceive as much of the environment as possible, it is advisable to complete the exercise content with light competition shoes or sometimes barefoot. Neoprene shoes are an alternative for maximum perception in cool temperatures. Variable backgrounds can certainly train perception. The avoidance of injuries, however, comes before the variation of the surface.

It's easier to learn that way

Technology-oriented content should be practiced without a strong physical condition. Excessive muscular or central nervous fatigue impairs the desired effects. This is comparable to mental performance in everyday life. The work often becomes noticeably more difficult after many hours. Before the first exercise is completed, the body temperature should be increased by a warm-up phase. Depending on individual requirements, 15-20 minutes are recommended. The effective exercise time can vary between a few minutes and a little over a quarter of an hour. Then the concentration usually decreases significantly and it becomes difficult to focus on the perception and experience of the movement. The individual exercise can be covered over a distance of 5 to 30 meters.

See and be seen

A final tip before starting the practice. Those who carry out the exercises at least in pairs can gain further impressions and, if necessary, support each other in the implementation of the tasks. A video self-confrontation by setting up a camera or recording the general running technique when performing performance diagnostics are also ways of evaluating the perception of the movement from the outside.

heel walking and toe walking

The naming already describes the respective exercise very precisely. For the heel run, the heel is placed on the heel and not rolled off. The toes are pulled up. The hips, knees and ankles remain in extension for the toe walk.

A possible variation for active ankle work is active stretching from the ankle. Knees and hips remain stretched, the rigid ankle joint is varied against the impression from the ankle joint.

Outer and inner edge run

O-legs and knock-knees are allowed in these exercises. When walking on the outer edges, the outer edges of the feet form the contact surface with the ground. Do the exercise slowly and barefoot. In addition, pull the big toe up to avoid voluntary overpronation and thus twisting. For the inside edge run, choose the steps a little wider and roll over the inside edge of the foot. The barefoot version is also recommended here. Both exercises also serve to stabilize the ankle and can be an effective way of preventing injuries.

The starting position is standing on one leg. The jump can be completed forwards and supported by counterbalanced arm work. Landing with a slightly bent knee on the forefoot is essential. The jump is balanced until complete stillness. Variations are conceivable by jumping from one leg to the other. Jumps sideways and backwards with variations in footwork are also possible and can provide variety.


The heel can have a positive effect on the pendulum movement, the lower leg is angled more strongly in the swing phase and the lever is shortened as a result. In order to emphasize this point, the arms can be fixed (they do not move), the hips remain stretched, the thighs are perpendicular to the floor, the work is only done from the lower leg.

During the exercise, the heels are allowed to touch the buttocks. A high frequency is not the focus. Modifications are one-sided heeling, whereby the second leg is inactively pulled behind, or heeling every third or fifth step from a relaxed run. Be careful not to externally rotate your lower legs when heeling.

Step and bounce jumper

With step bouncers, the movement forwards and sideways is the same. The knee leads the movement, the foot is not actively pushed forward, but rather hangs on the knee pendulum. A slight external rotation of the hips supports the sideways movement. The goal is to bring the first leg forward and follow it with the second leg. The following leg then leads the movement forwards and outwards and the other is followed. The speed and range of motion are ideal ways to make the exercise varied.

Rebound bouncers are very well suited for perceiving hip extension and the dynamics of foot strike and renewed push off. In the starting position, both feet stand side by side. The strong push-off and the knee lift take place alternately.

Landing is done with both feet at the same time. Frequency and imprint height are possible parameters for variation. This makes the movement fast and flat or strong and high.

side steps

For the side steps, the arms can be supported on the hips or let them hang loosely at the side of the body. The direction of movement is sideways, one leg is put forward and the second leg is adjusted. The exercise can be performed on one side, constantly changing sides or alternating to 2. When changing sides, a rotation around the longitudinal axis of the body can also be incorporated.

The stork in the salad

This exercise can provide important experiences for maximum ranges of motion. It is completed in slow motion. The hips are extended to the maximum, the thighs are raised parallel to the floor. The foot attachment takes place actively after the lower leg has been guided forward. In addition, the body can be pulled forward by strongly pulling the supporting leg.

ankle work and skippings

The aim of the ankle work task is to improve the feeling of the rolling movement and to perceive the possibilities of the impression from the ankle joint. One foot is placed on the ground, the heel is in light contact with the ground, the knee is stretched.

The second foot is stretched to the maximum in the ankle joint, ideally the entire foot surface can be seen when viewed from behind. The knee joint is slightly bent. The opposite movement of the arms ensures a fluid overall impression. The tips of the toes hardly lose contact with the ground.

Ankle work can be enhanced by actively raising the knee joint. This turns it into the skippings / knee lifts. The thigh can be lifted until it is parallel to the floor. Pay attention to active arm work, knee and hip extension. Do not fall backwards with your upper body.

Step jumps and hop runs

During these exercises, the speed of movement increases and a dynamic of its own develops. Athletes with low hip stability record a strong buckling in the torso. A sign that this region should be strengthened with strengthening exercises.

A strong imprint is converted into the longest possible flight phase, after landing the next imprint follows directly. Main points of observation are extension in the ankle and hip joint for the leg with which the push-off takes place and a knee angle of about 90° in the front knee. The arms can actively participate.

For the hopsprint, the push-off is made from the ground with one leg in full extension. At the same time, the other leg is raised with a strong knee lift. Landing on the same leg that made the push off. The move to the next step. Here the force of the impression can be varied by changing the height.

Contrast learning – backwards, too much forward and backward

Many of the exercises described can also be performed backwards. In addition, running backwards can bring completely new experiences. It is also possible to consciously create mistakes in the running technique and to feel how it feels when you run a few meters in a strong forward or backward position.

If the hip extension is the focus of the movement task, it is sometimes helpful to choose the following starting position: Stand on tiptoe, ankle, knee and hip joints in maximum extension. Then it can go.


It is advisable to let go of old patterns and try out new stimuli. The execution of many different exercises and the variation of situations are variable variables that can trigger positive effects when the running technique is made more effective. It is important not only to do a running ABC, but to feel changes in body position and movements.

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