Exercises for Runners
Exercise for runners by Heather Oakes, BSc PGCE PGDip
Exercises for Runners: How can I improve my running? Run more, right…? Wrong.
Calling all runners…. Yes you.
Don’t put your best foot forwards today. Don’t set off in your brightly coloured trainers and favourite running top. Don’t spend ages faffing with your headphones finding the perfect running anthem. Stop and read our important tips and exercises for runners.
Stay in and toughen up on the Tuffit
Yes, you heard right. Stay in. Change the way you think about your running. Become a more effective all round athlete and tackle your muscle imbalances to reduce your chance of injury, and improve your running (…without actually running).
We know runners like running, and dislike anything to get in the way of that, especially an injury. Strengthening lower body muscles and evening out weaknesses can be all it takes to reduce the chances of injuries like patella tendinitis, overuse injuries, achilles tendinitis, or an ankle sprain. Surely you can dedicate a running session to lower body strength training to remain pain free?
What’s more, strength training can improve your running speed and distance impressively.
Several studies show a 2.9% improvement in 5km speed* just by adding some resistance training.
This means that you can get the running results you wanted without pounding the pavements (risking injury) for any extra miles.
I know you want to keep running, and that’s exactly why you should look after your body, strengthen your joints and your core, and become an all round athlete. Over time this will get you to the finish line quicker, and more importantly, in one piece.
I’ve put together the best exercises for runners using the Tuffit.
Top 5 Tuffit exercises for runners
Bulgarian Split Squat
This is an all over lower body party! Strengthening quads and hamstrings (front and back of your thigh) as well as glutes (buttocks). This is an advanced move and you will need to check the Tuffit instructional video to make sure you are aiming for correct technique. This exercise can help reduce the chances of achilles and patella tendonitis and in particular, strengthening the glutes can help reduce overuse injuries.
Advice: Perform a few on each side to identify your weaker side. In future, always start with this side. Do as many as you can with perfect technique, and stop. Do the same number with your stronger side. Don’t be tempted to do any more, even if you could. We need to strengthen your weaker side to match your stronger side, and this will take time.
Another lower body fiesta. This exercise is for your quads, hamstrings and glutes (thighs and buttocks). Make sure you have your weight 50/50 on each foot, and control your way down to the Tuffit. The closer you get, the harder it gets, the more strengthening you get.
Advice: Slow down. Then slow down more. Really take your time on the way down as this is the muscle strengthening phase. You can speed up slightly on the way up, but keep the way down slow.
Inner Thigh Lift
Strengthening the muscles around the hip can even imbalances and reduce overuse injuries. Make sure you follow instructions on how to safely set up your Tuffit, and think about your posture to keep good technique.
Advice: Once you have identified your weaker leg, start with that one. Squeeze in quick, and control the way out super slow. The strengthening phase is on the way back to the start position, so really use control.
Another way to tackle patella tendonitis and overuse injuries is to strengthen your glutes (buttocks). This is also an important running muscle, and strengthening this will undoubtedly speed you up.
Advice: Check your technique, in particular, your posture. Try to see yourself sideways on (maybe near a window or mirror). Watch your lower back and don’t let it arch. Keep your movement precise and perform your ‘kick’ with control (more of a nudge…).
Strong foundations build great things. Training your core to support your other activities is your number 1 injury prevention tool. Take the time to look after your core, and your core will look after you.
For this exercise, start in the position shown. Make sure you are in neutral spine, shoulders are down, core is engaged, and that you are breathing normally. We are trying to work on your core stability muscles. So to do that, we need to keep your core (shoulders, hips, and everything in between) totally still. Like a table. So imagine your back has a tray of drinks on, and try not to spill a drop.
So far, so good, but here comes the tricky bit. Extend one arm and the opposite leg away from you. Really take the time to stabilise. Those core stability muscles aren’t working if your core is wiggling. Slowly alternate sides, keeping your core stable. This isn’t easy.
So there you go. Next time it’s raining and you were thinking about running, re-think.
Re-educate. Re-balance. Re-align. Resistance train.
Heather Oakes BSc PGCE PGDip has a wealth of experience in the fitness industry and is also a qualified Exercise Referral Specialist – so she is expertly placed to provide advice on how exercise can be used to help many physical conditions. Heather has a BSc in Sport, Health, Exercise and Nutrition and a PGDip in Weight Management. You can read more about Heather here
*Yamamoto, L. M. Lopez, R. M. Klau, J. F. Casa, D. J. Kraemer, W. J. Maresh, C. M. (2008) The Effects of Resistance Training on Endurance Distance Running Performance Among Highly Trained Runners: A Systematic Review: Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research Vol 22:6