At-Home Strength Training for Runners
Variety helps! Hill climbing is all about glutes. We use hamstrings for speed on the track. Downhill runs can often result in foot fractures and patello-femoral issues when we are in our quads too much (putting the breaks on vs controlling eccentric motion with hips).
Mastering glute and posterior chain endurance is great for distance runners; we use high rep strength training for you! This means 12-15 reps with as much resistance as you can do with good form. If you can do more than 15, you are not using enough weight! Number of reps don’t matter if you are just reinforcing bad movement patterns.
For sprinters we need power, which is speed combined with strength. So lower rep, higher resistance for y’all! 6-10 reps for you, but they should be hard to complete. Again, good form is top priority, not ams of weight used.
Squats FACING THE WALL:
That’s right, I’m taking your quads away. I’m also taking away all of your bad habits and the ways we take weight out of our glutes and hamstrings. Arms overhead if you can. Your knees can touch the wall, but so do your toes. Good squat form utilizes at push back into the posterior, not just a lowering motion. Knees stay safe when they don’t bend in front of your toes.
Squat as low as you can without falling backwards. It may be 25 degrees for some of you. Some of you may be able to get all the way down and back up. IT IS NOT A FLEXIBILITY ISSUE. You are teaching your glutes and hamstrings to fire at the same time. It’s hard. It’s also fundamental to learning to run, jump, squat (sit), and train your posterior for functional movements.
NOTE: Your body will try to find anything other than glutes and hamstrings to help. Protect your lumbar by bearing down. Do not push past pain. Listen to your body.
Box Jumps (or triple jumps if you don’t have a stable surface) :
If you are intimidated by jumping onto a 12 inch box or chair, jump off of it to start. Your goal is springy legs and QUIET feet. Allow your butt to drop low, and your feet to go flat. Then repeat. Remember to keep your weight behind those knees folks. *A triple jump would be making three long jumps in a row, then walk back to your starting point. No gear needed!
Balance + Hip Mobility + Shoulder Stability:
This combo of shoulder strength is to keep your arms projecting you forward (not twisting side to side as you see with wide elbows on runners), keep you sure footed, and work toward that hip ROM that makes running look elegant in elite athletes. Unlike the poor kid in this pic, stay upright. Start with a band around your wrists, pressing hands wide while keeping elbows at your sides. Stand on one leg, slightly in front or your “hurdle”. I use a stationary bike because it sits at about hip height. Find a chair, small table, or just use your imagination. Hurdle your leg to the side and over the hurdle using hip extension. Do not stand in front of the barrier because you will only be reaching forward and remain in hip flexion the entire time. NO! Try to maintain an upright trunk. Try to remain stable and balanced on one foot. Don’t set your hurdle leg down between reps.
These help keep your posterior trunk strong to allow you to lean forward. Begin with weights in each hand. Kettle bells, dumb bells, or water jugs, or detergent bottles will work. Go heavy! I use 20 pounds in each hand for runners that have never done strength training. Simply push the weights behind you as far as you can. Stay upright. Lock in your hips and knees. Keep your heels down. Your body should naturally lean forward as you push your hands back. Don’t force it, or you will just bend at the hips and defeat the purpose of this activity.
Eccentric Calf (or leg balance work if already injured):
An old, but reliable rehab tool to remodel healthy tendons and help PREVENT INJURY. Ideally your body needs to learn to push with more than calves. Start up on your toes on a stair or step. Count to 10 as you lower your heel as far as you can without pain. Pivot slightly with each quick raise, so that you catch different strands of muscle with each rep of lowering. If your tendons are NOT healthy, substitute this exercise: barefoot, single leg stance with wide toes.
If you’re looking to keep yourself accountable as you work on your strength training, contact us at ATHENA where we specialize in strength coaching, as well as injury prevention, massage therapy, function assessment including run assessments, and sports nutrition.
Also, follow us on Instagram @ Athena_PDX!
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