Strength Training for Runners
I think one of the most confounding things about obstacle races to me is that they appear to join two opposing things: Strength work and running.
I am not saying that they cannot be combined and I am interested to observe it all in September when I do Tough Mudder, but by all appearances, it looks as if long distance running and Cross Fit got together and had a child.
Regardless, it has touched on something that is vital to the runner – strength training.
Although I would much rather be bounding on a trail than pumping iron in a gym, I thought I would curate a few of my favourite strength moves for runners together for you. You know, in case you want to do an obstacle race sometime.
Stand with your feet a hip width distance apart and toe facing forward. Sit back (lead with your bum) until you engage your glutes, quads and hamstrings (about 90 degrees) and straighten. Do 12 reps.
Why? A squat is a great exercise to build up muscle in your quads, hamstrings and core, which are vital areas for a runner. They make you stronger and therefore faster! And what runner doesn’t want that?
Single Leg Deadlifts
Holding a weight in front of your body, bend one knee, hinge forward at the waist and lift the opposite leg behind you. Lower the weights. Engage your hamstring and glute of the leg planted on the ground and come back to standing. Repeat 12 reps and switch to the other leg.
Why? : Balance is an important part of running and this exercise targets the glutes. A lot of runners abandon their glutes in favor of their quads while running. Targeting glutes helps to ensure they are used in training.
There are so many different ways to work this in, but one of my favorites is:
The Earthquake – Sit with legs straight out, arms forward, spine tall, and lean back to your “tipping point”. Keep your heels on the mat as you lean back! Lean back an inch every 10 seconds.
Others I love are bicycle crunches and planks.
Why?: A conditioned core helps to keep everything streamlined and efficient, allowing you to run faster and more effectively.
Single Leg Squats –
Balancing on one foot and squat down, bending at the knee and sitting your hips back as if you are going to sit in a chair behind you. Once down to about a 90 degree angle in your knee, extend your leg back up to standing. If this is too challenging allow the toes of your hovering foot to lightly rest on the ground. Complete eight to 12 repetition then switch to the other leg.
Why?: Running is basically hopping from foot to foot for miles so it is important to build solid balance in your pelvis so you don’t have to balance yourself every time you take a step when running.