Top 3 Strength Training Exercises for Runners

First and foremost, if you’re a runner and you’re not strength training you need to start.  This in and of itself could be an entire blog article.  But here I go with the synopsis. 

Strength training will indirectly help you run longer and faster.  Strength training exercises can improve your running mechanics, so that you run more efficiently.  Efficient running mechanics will lead to less wasted energy with each step and less injuries. 

Think about it.  You will take 80 to 90 steps per foot each minute you run.  If you have muscular imbalances that lead to joint mobility or stability issues you will move through an improper range of motion with each step. 

When you run for 30 minutes you take 2700 steps with each foot for a combined 5400 steps.  That could be 5400 steps of feet rolling in, rounded shoulders, wasted side to side movement or just pure pain.  Needless to say, when you are an endurance athlete it’s important that each step and every workout is adding to improved performance not to injury or fatigue.

The key to becoming a better runner is consistency.  For most runners, injuries are the biggest disrupter of consistent training.  Runners get a few good weeks or months of training, and then they are injured.   That means time off, loss of motivation, and a decrease in fitness. 

Strength training with proper form 2 to 3 times a week will reduce the onset of injuries and improve your running form.  Here are my top 3 strength training exercises for runners. 

Bulgarian Split Squat

You will need a bench, chair or stepper to perform this exercise.  Start by doing this exercise with just body weight and then progress.  The progression could include holding dumbbells, kettlebells or a barbell.  You can also make this exercise explosive. 




 
  • Place the to top of your back foot on.  If you are having a hard time with balance, flex your back toes and place them on the bench.   
  • Stand in a staggered stance about 2 to 3 feet wide.  This should allow your knee to bend while keeping your knees behind your front toes. 
  • Inhale as you begin to bend both knees. 
  • Focus on your back knee pointing straight down toward the ground and your body weight in your front heel.   
  • Keep your front kneecap inline with the 3rd toe of the front foot. 
  • Exhale as you straighten both knees to come back up to standing.  
Start with 10 repetitions on each leg and progress to 15. 

Calf Lowers

Use a stair or a stepper to perform this exercise.  Start by doing this exercise with just body weight.  The progression would include holding a dumbbell in one hand. 


 


  • Place the ball of your foot on the stair while holding on to the wall or railing.   
  • Rise up on the ball of your foot as high as your heel will go.  Make sure you have weight evenly distributed on all of your toes and that you are not rolling onto one side of your foot. 
  • Slowly, lower you heel back to the starting position.  Try counting 3 to 5 slow counts to ensure you really focus on lowering part of the movement.   
Do 10 reputations on each foot to start.  Work up to doing 20 reputations on each foot. 

Band or Cable Row

How many runners do you see hunched over logging long miles.  This exercise is for improved running posture, which can lead to improved respiration. 

To perform this exercise, use a band or a cable.  This exercise can be done with both arms or with just one arm. 





  • Stand in a staggered stance with relaxed knees.  Make sure your ribs on stacked on top of your hips to ensure good posture. 
  • Grab the handles of the band or the cable in the thumbs up position. 
  • Start the movement by protracting the shoulder blades.
  • Then bend the elbows straight back so that your biceps are close to your rib care.  Keep  your knuckles forward. 
  • To release, begin to straighten your elbows and bring your shoulders back to the starting position. 
Start with 10 repitions and work up to 20.  To increase difficulty, use a more difficult band or more weight on the cable system. 

Here’s to improving your running mechanics so that you can train more consistently.  Can’t wait to hear about the PR at your next race. 

Top 5 Tips to Get Ready for Tough Mudder

Top 5 Tips to Get Ready for Tough Mudder


When it comes to mud runs, Tough Mudder is a big deal.  This event covers ten to twelve miles of muddy running interspersed with challenging obstacles.  Using the word “challenging” when describing the obstacles along the course is an understatement.  Obstacles include getting an electrical shock, running through ice-cold water, jumping over fire, climbing over walls, and things you’ve seen when watching American Ninja Warrior.  Plus these obstacles are all done on a rugged, muddy terrain.  So, maybe the word dirty-insane-challenging would be a better fit to describe the Tough Mudder.

Don’t let this description lead you to think that this is an impossible feat.   The Tough Mudder website states that 1.3 million people have completed this event since it’s inauguration.  If Tough Mudder is on your bucket list, know that if they can do it so can you.  Here are 5 tips to get you ready to tackle the Tough Mudder.

1) Train: This tip seems obvious, but it’s not.  Many people are standing at the start line hoping for the best.  This strategy puts you at high risk for injury and not completing the event.  You need to train anywhere from 8 to 12 weeks for the Tough Mudder.  Use this guideline if you have a regular workout routine established.  If you’re new to exercise or have been on a workout hiatus you may need 4 to 6 months to get ready.  Carve out time in your schedule to train 3 to 5 days a week to prepare for this event.  If you need some guidance, join a training program to provide a road map to Tough Mudder success.

2) Run:  Tough Mudder is like a half-marathon on steroids.  Running is critical component when you find that you’re traveling up to a mile between obstacles.  Incorporate running intervals, hills, and fartleks into your training program.  Start your training off with a new pair of running or minimalist shoes so that by the time your Tough Mudder comes around your shoes are ready to get trashed.

3) Simulate Obstacles:  To feel confident at the start line of Tough Mudder, you need to practice skills that can help you with the obstacles.  This will reduce your risk of obtaining any injuries during the event.  Utilizing stairs, fences, playgrounds, rock climbing walls, football fields, lakes, and beaches are great places to start when looking to simulate obstacles.  Check out the Tough Mudder website to see a list obstacles.  Use your imagination to find ways to incorporate obstacle training in your workouts.   

4) Simulate Terrain: Running covered in mud with wet shoes is much different from running on the treadmill.  Running in the grass, on the sand and through the water is much different from running on asphalt.  Get ready to be a little uncomfortable.  Your shoes will begin to slide around on your feet and your clothes will cling to your body.  Get ready to work a little harder.  Your stride will be affected by the changes in terrain.  Practice running on the grass, in the water, and in the sand.  Make sure you get wet and run with soaked shoes and clothes. You’ll realize what shoes and clothes to wear on race day to be the most comfortable and effective.

5) Team: Teamwork is what Tough Mudder is about.  Teamwork is what keeps drawing people back to the Tough Mudder venue.  From the start to the finish, it’s about getting everyone across the finish line.  If you’re struggling to get over a wall, a hand is there to help pull you up.  When fatigue is setting in, another person is there to bring up your spirits.  You’re not alone out there.  At other races you find you’re left in the dust.  At Tough Mudder you are overcoming challenges with your muddy buddies. Get together with friends or a training group to form a team bond that will keep you accountable with your training and support you to the finish line.

Want personalized training???  Schedule a virtual appointment with Amber.

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