Runners can sometimes be lumped into a one-dimensional category of fitness because of the straightforward nature of their sport. Yet, running requires deep muscle control and endurance. All of the muscle groups, especially the legs and core, need to be strengthened and engaged for better performance.
THE CORE ESSENTIALS
Planks: For full-body engagement, suspension core training via planks recruits the big and little core muscles. A tight core keeps the body working in unison. Click here to try out some more plank variations!
Leg Extensions: Working on a tight tummy and helpful hip flexors, try leg extensions. Lying on your back, keep your lower back adhered to the ground, pressing down through your belly button. Even a small range of motion is very effective. You can post yourself up on your elbows for a modification.
Russian Twists: Hello, lower abs. This stubborn area is responsible for assisting lower body movement. Twisting incorporates the obliques for the full package. Legs are long and hips stay on the ground as you twist. It can be done with or without weights. Click here for more instructions.
Lunges: Forward or backward stepping lunges are excellent muscle builders for runners who encounter hills of any grade. They work the quads, glutes and hamstrings. Add hand weights up to three pounds for more strength training.
>> Read more: 7 Tips to Improve Your Running Speed
Bodyweight Squats: Simple and effective, squats warm up the legs for what’s to come. Use these or wall sits before hitting the pavement. Your heart will love the jumpstart! Click here for more squat variations.
Glute Bridges: Challenging the glutes and hamstrings, press through the entire foot while keeping a “scoop” in your lower belly. This will make your abs and legs do all of the work while keeping your lower back protected. Click here for more instructions!
BACK TO BACK
Pushups: Running takes a toll on the shoulders and upper back due to the necessity of maintaining proper posture. Strengthen them through a series of pushups: basic, tricep, diamond or wide. Use your abs to help you.
Rows: With dumbbells, a standing bent-over row can add stamina to the upper back muscles. Exhale as you pull up, inhale on the way down, keeping the same pace.
STRETCH IT OUT
Inverted Hamstring Stretch: Beginning in a standing position, lift one leg slightly behind you while keep the standing knee soft. Reach the opposite hand overhead and slowly tilt your body until you reach your maximum stretching point. You might not make it to the ground, so use a chair or step to help you.
Scorpion Twist: Lying on your belly, stretch your arms out to either side like a “T.” Bend one leg to 90 degrees, then try to reach it to the opposite hand. The chest stays on the ground. This will release the lower back and increase blood flow to the torso.
Hip Flexor: There are several variations of this stretch, but giving some TLC to your hip flexors is so invaluable. To avoid knee discomfort, use a pillow or towel underneath it as you rest it on the ground. The other knee comes forward in a 90-degree bend. Lean into that front leg without allowing the knee to pass the toe. Push the hips forward, or for a deeper stretch, grab your back foot.
>> Read more: 9 Ways To Stretch Your Hip Flexors