Runners love to run, but they often forget about other forms of exercise, especially strength training. Some even believe that strength training can harm their running performance.
While certain weight-lifting protocols can be counter-productive for endurance athletes, there are a few important exercises you can do two or three times per week that will make you a better runner. By building strength and endurance in specific muscle groups that are overstretched and weak you can reduce your risk of injury, while improving your form and increasing efficiency.
This circuit workout is short and light enough that you can keep it in your training routine year-round, even during high-mileage periods. You only need two pieces of equipment: an exercise mat and a medium resistance band.
- Resistance Band Rows
- External Shoulder Rotation
- Hip Hike
- One-Arm Plank With a Twist
Walk briskly or jog slowly for 3 to 5 minutes followed by 30 seconds each of arm circles (both directions), trunk twists and progressively deep knee bends.
Resistance Band Rows
Loop your band around a fixed anchor point (a tree, pole or doorknob of a closed door). Face the anchor and grasp the handles in both hands, holding your arms out in front of you at shoulder height.
Engage your core, bend your knees a little, and lean back slightly away from the anchor. Pull the handles of the band toward you in a rowing motion, so that your elbows go behind your body and your hands come in at chest height. Remember to squeeze your shoulder blades together. Do 15 to 20 repetitions.
How you become a better runner: By strengthening the muscles of the scapulothoracic region, you counter the tendency that many runners have of slouching the shoulders forward. Running with an upright position allows for a relaxed, natural arm swing and improved economy.
External Shoulder Rotation
Loop your band around the anchor point at shoulder height, feeding one handle through the other so that you're working with one handle at the end of the band's full length.
Stand with your left side toward the anchor and grasp the band's handle in your right hand. Position your right hand across your body with elbow bent, so that the handle is near your left elbow. Stand far enough away from the anchor so that the slack is just out of the band—it shouldn't be taut. Slowly rotate your right arm so that the handle moves in an arc out in front of your body from left to right. Keep your right elbow "pinned" to your side throughout the movement. Stop at the end of your natural range of motion. Do 15 to 20 repetitions, switch sides and repeat.
How you become a better runner: This is another exercise that strengthens the muscles of the scapulothoracic region. It also promotes range of motion in the shoulder joint.
More: 8 Post-Run Stretches