Why Runners Should do Strength Training

Cardiovascular fitness will determine how long one lives; Strength & Flexibility will determine how well you live those years.

 

Cardiovascular training is important for our heart and lung health. Making it easier to run after that bus or a 2-year-old, you will feel better climbing that hill or staircase. Keep on moving, whether it is running, biking, or walking. Balance in life is important, all work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy. Pounding the pavement with runs right from my front door is how I got back into shape when my children were younger. The endorphins from a run really do change one’s mood in a positive direction, helping to improve one’s mental health. I found that after just running for a while I had small little pains and injuries cropping up, this led me to start strength training as well. This time strength training led me to learn more about training and eventually took me to becoming a personal trainer and fitness instructor.

Strength training is a great compliment to your favourite cardiovascular activity, building muscle balance to help prevent injury. When you have a greater core strength you will be able to hold your posture longer allowing you to have greater endurance. So YES, recreational runners and long-distance runners should do strength or resistance training.

The key to maintaining your speed when running, is the arm pump, pump your arms quicker your legs move quicker. Keeping your shoulders quiet while pumping your arms helps you use your energy for forward propulsion, instead of bouncing up and down. The leg movement is much more complex. The muscles that contribute to a strong upper body for running are your Pectoralis major, latissimus, trapezoid, and rhomboids.  Let us look at the running stride in 2 parts, the push and the recovery. The push propels you forward, starting when your foot hits the ground in front of you, this part ends when you lift the foot off the ground behind you. This is where the recovery part starts and continues until the start of the push. The muscles involved in your legs for running are hamstrings, gastrocnemius, tibialis anterior, hip flexors (sartorius & iliopsoas) and quadriceps.

Does this mean I need to hit the gym?

If you want to buy a gym membership and only workout there go for it, is it necessary, NO. There are plenty of bodyweight exercises a person do at home to improve ones running and avoid injury. A little space, a couple of stairs & comfortable clothing and you are set. Well maybe you also want a little direction too. For guidance you will want to continue reading below.

 

Exercises for Runners

When using the exercises below, pick 2-3 in each category 2-3 times a week. You should be able to complete a round of exercises in about 30-45 minutes. When you find yourself short on time, do the 4 core exercises. We also run a virtual strength program 5 days a week, Couch to Trailhead this program will work to build you strength, flexibility, balance and help offset your imbalances.

Be sure that you are cleared for exercising, if you have any pain consult a healthcare professional.

 

Upper Body

Exercise Sets Reps How to
Push Ups 2-3 12-15 Position: high plank, prone

Start: wrists, elbows, shoulder stacked. Glutes, quads, and abs engaged. Shoulders down & back

Movement: lower your body toward the ground, in one piece, by bending the elbows, they can be 45deg from the side or along the sides (for a more triceps focus)

Return: Press back into high plank, glutes, quads, abs engaged. REPEAT

Lateral Raises

Use a couple soup, bean, or salsa cans 398ml -650ml

2-3 12-15 Position: upright, standing

Start: feet hip to shoulder distance apart, straight legs soft knees, weight in heels, outside around to the base of the big toe, level your beltline, hide the ribs. Arms at your sides, palms facing legs, thumbs forward.

Movement: keeping your shoulders down, raise your arms up to shoulder height (not higher than your shoulders). If straight arms are too intense, bend your elbows at 90deg to raise your arms up.

Return: lower arms back to your side. REPEAT

Runners Raise

Use a couple soup, bean, or salsa cans 398ml -650ml

2-3 12-15 Position: upright, standing

Start: feet hip to shoulder distance apart, straight legs soft knees, weight in heels, outside around to the base of the big toe, level your beltline, hide the ribs. Elbows bent 90deg, upper arms along your side.

Movement: alternately raise your arm up until the upper arm is parallel to the ground, left-right, keeping your elbow bent 90deg.

Return: lower arm back to your side

Seated Rows

(theraband available for $1-1.50/m at physiotherapy clinics)

2-3 12-15 Position: seated, facing a door or pole

Start: neutral spine, shoulders down and back, arms extended (without rounding shoulders)

Movement: shoulders down and back, squeeze shoulder blades towards your spine, pull band back until upper is in line with the body

Return: with control release arms to full extension again. REPEAT

 

Lower Body

Exercise Sets Reps How to
Segmented Squats 2-3 12-15 Position: standing hip-shoulder distance apart, weight evenly distributed heels-outside midfoot-base big toe

Start: drive the sine & knees forward, hip back (as if about to sit in a chair), chest high,

Movement: ¼ squat-hold, ½ squat-hold, full squat-hold pressure into the floor as you lower, (hold each position for 5 count)

Return: pressing down into the floor to rise ups. REPEAT

Split Squats 2-3 12-15 Position: standing, staggered stance

Start: weight is 60% front-40% back, imagine your feet are on their own rail track, slightly wider than hip distance

Movement: level your belt line, hide your ribs, lower your hips toward the ground until your knees are bent 90deg

Return: rise back up. REPEAT

Challenge: try to lift your back foot when you are at your lowest point or put your back foot up on a stool or chair seat

Calf Raises 2-3 12-15 Position: standing

Start: feet hip distance & parallel (either on the floor or heel hanging off a stair)

level your beltline, hide your ribs.

Movement: pressing down into your toes to raise your heels, go as high as you can to maintain your balance, engage your glutes and abs

Return: lower your heels back down to the floor or lower than the stair if you are on the stair.

Bridge Walkouts 2-3 12-15 Position: supine

Start: shoulder blades flat on the floor, draw your heels in towards your butt, feet flat on the floor

Movement: press your hips up, hollow your lower belly, alternately walk your feet away from your body (small steps), without lowering your hips back to the floor, walk out until you can feel your hamstrings engage

Return: alternately in small steps walk your feet back to where they started, reset. REPEAT

 

Core Strength

Exercise Sets Reps How to
Front Plank 2-3 :35-:45 Position: prone

Start: wrists, elbows, shoulders stacked, spine neutral, ears in line with your shoulders, fingers spread wide, legs extended

Movement: engage your glutes, quads, and abs, pressing your toes into the mat, with your hand imagine you are trying to rip your mat apart, HOLD position

Return: relax

Side Plank – left/right 2-3 :35-:45 Position: side lying

Start: bring your arm into a position that will have it inline with your shoulder joint when you press your body up

Movement: press up until your body is off the ground, your arm & knees or feet are supporting you, ensure you are in one line from base through crown of the head, perpendicular to the ground, engage you glutes, find a connection between your ribs and hip on the upper side

Return: relax & lower

Mountain Climbers 2-3 :35-:45 Position: prone

Start: wrists, elbows, shoulders stacked, spine neutral, ears in line with your shoulders, fingers spread wide, legs extended

Movement: slowly & alternately draw your leg towards the opposite arm, keeping your shoulder quiet (avoid rotation in your body)

Return: slowly return your leg to full extension. REPEAT

Figure Four Bridge – left/right 2-3 :35-:45 Position: supine

Start: shoulder blades flat on the floor, draw your heels in towards your butt, feet flat on the floor

Movement: cross one ankle over the opposite knee, press your hips up, up, up,

Return: lower. REPEAT

So now that you have committed to be a stronger, fast runner why not test your skills with the Bowness Community Association virtual 5km fun run!! There is plenty of swag up for grabs and you can challenge yourself. This event will be happening June 6 2021, one must preregister.

Join as Mountain Fitness Training athlete, and we will run as a virtual team, MFT will gift you a T or tank!!! Just let me know you are signing up and a screenshot that you are registered!

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