Do you run to keep fit or do you keep fit to run?
Of course, we have to be fit to run. If we want to reduce injury risk and make our running easier and more efficient we should incorporate various types of body conditioning aside from the running we do.
Some of these exercises are best done as a separate session, but most can also be incorporated into the warm-ups we do before running or racing.
Great for warm-up, and as part of a conditioning session. They help to develop the vital gluteal muscles (buttocks). Underdeveloped glutes are widely recognised as being responsible for many running related injuries. Some of our athletes prefer to loosen up a little before doing these rather than jumping straight in as mentioned in the video.
Another exercise that is great for warm-up, and as part of a conditioning session. Squats also help to develop the vital gluteal muscles (buttocks) and help with flexibility in hamstrings and calf muscles. The video below, from ‘Running Technique TV’, shows correct form. Important points: keep feet fully planted flat on the ground including heel, and do not allow the back to bend.
Single Leg Squats
The single leg squat is a great running-specific exercise for strengthening and rehabilitation. Single leg squats also target the vital gluteal muscles (buttocks). This video shows how to perform the exercise with good form using a simple but effective prop.
Hips and Core
Often overlooked by runners, but these areas should be kept in tip-top shape. Yes, the legs do the work, but they need a strong and stable platform from which to work. Once the muscles that control the pelvis get fatigued, form falls apart reducing running speed, economy and placing the runner at high risks of injury as alignment and balance are compromised.
Another excellent video below, gives some clear instructions for exercises that will help you become fitter and stronger in the areas that matter for runners.
Cook Hip Lift
Many runners suffer the consequences of poor glute (buttock muscles) strength. The glutes are a primary driver of the running action, if they are weak or not working properly, the hamstrings take the strain.
Use the Cook hip lift as pre-run exercise and also as part of a conditioning session.
Cross Over Lunge
More glute training.