Run Specific Exercises to Improve Your Form

Tuesday, November 10, 2015 | By Carrie Lane
 
 
 
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Run Specific Exercises to Improve Your Form

We’ve all been there. The alarm goes off, it’s dark outside, and your comforter seems to have pinned you to the bed. You’re a dedicated runner, a faithful training partner, but admit it, running during the winter months can sometimes be a struggle. During the off-season you may need something less tedious than running to keep up with training. Incorporating a weight training plan into some of your run days can re-invigorate you for racing season. But even if slogging through the snow and cold is fun for you, adding some lifting targeted to improve your running technique can greatly enhance your spring performances. Regardless of your motivation for getting in the gym, a mobility and weight lifting routine is part of a balanced training program that will improve running mechanics, prevent injury, increase your strength, enhance your athleticism, and ultimately prolong your running career.

Getting Started

How do you fit a lifting plan into your running program? Which exercises will most benefit your running? How do you tell the big beefcake on the bench press that you’d like to work in with him? A lifting program may seem daunting at first. Quite simply, a weight training agenda for runners can be boiled down to stable posture, strong hips, and mobility through the pelvis and torso. To begin an effective lifting plan that targets improved running mechanics, focus on these three components: posture, glute and hamstring engagement, and rotational core work.

Each component works in harmony during your stride. Proper posture allows you to align your glutes and hammies to fire effectively. Rotational strength through your core and pelvis helps you absorb and apply force properly. There are hundreds of exercises that target posture, glute engagement, and rotational core strength. But knowing which exercises to do and when to incorporate them into your running program will enhance your recovery, reduce injury, and improve your ability make changes to your running technique.

Developing a Routine

Think of the first component, posture, as the base of a pyramid and the building block for all of your athletic movement. The base must be constantly maintained so that the pyramid never topples. Therefore, incorporate exercises that strengthen lower abdomen and pelvic floor muscles into any warm up and lifting routine. Once you polish some postural skills, you will improve your ability to support proper torso and hip alignment. Then you can progress to movements that target glute/hamstring engagement and rotational strength.

After your posture exercises, categorize various training activities for glute engagement and rotational strength into two categories: simple and complex. Simple exercises are low impact and require low neuromuscular coordination (that is, brain power). Complex exercises are typically multi-jointed movements, higher impact, and require more neuromuscular coordination. You can and should do both categories of activities during any phase of your training. But pay attention to the amount of work your brain must do to perform an exercise. Your brain gets more of a workout when it performs multi-jointed, ballistic activities. Therefore, the more complex lifting activities should be paired with complex and taxing run workouts. Conversely, simple weight training tasks should be paired with simple, less taxing run workouts. Combining simple and complex tasks on the same day will confuse the brain. It will not know when to tell the body to start recovery responses, which it typically does during simple activities, and when to prepare the body for intense activities, which it must do during complex tasks. The more you can pair running and lifting tasks that have matching neuromuscular demands, the more effectively your body will be able to recover from these activities and prepare you for the next workout.

Simple Circuit

Here is a circuit of simple exercises. This circuit starts with postural training, then incorporates simple exercises that target glute/hamstring engagement and rotational core work.

All exercises 30 seconds work, 20 seconds rest:

  1. 90-90 chair breathing
  2. Wall sits with arm slides
  3. Fire hydrants
  4. Straight leg glute bridge
  5. Right leg RDL
  6. Left leg RDL
  7. R leg A-position static hold
  8. L leg A-position static hold
  9. R trail leg drill
  10. L trail leg drill
  11. R leg step up holding MB overhead
  12. L leg step up holding MB overhead
  13. MB low-to-high swings
  14. Prone crunch with alternate shoulder lift
  15. High-to-low standing cable twists
  16. Repeat two more times

Simple workouts to pair with this circuit are:

  1. Recovery run
  2. Aerobic threshold run
  3. Anaerobic threshold run
  4. Recovery day (no running)

Complex Circuit

The following complex circuit once again starts with posture work and then hits the same running-specific concepts, but with movements that demand more coordination and power. You will enjoy the ballistic, athletic nature of these exercises. Ease into these movements by limiting range of motion and weight at first. Add weight and range of motion as you perfect the activities.

  1. Prone plank with alternate knee-to-elbow 2 x 5
  2. Wall sits with MB raise 2 x 5
  3. Dynamic step ups x 8 each side
  4. Lateral dynamic step ups x 8 each side
  5. Backward skips or backward lunges 2 x 10m
  6. Rest 2:00
  7. MB scoop pass x 8 each side
  8. Rotational step up x 8 each side
  9. Backward skips or lunges holding MB overhead 2 x 10m
  10. Rest 2:00
  11. Landmines x 8 each side
  12. Lunge jumps x 8 each side
  13. Backward skips or lunges holding MB overhead 2 x 10m
  14. Rest 2:00
  15. Wall marches x 8 each side
  16. MB rotational slamdown x 8 each side
  17. Backward skips or backward lunges 2 x 10m
  18. Rest 2:00
  19. Repeat one time

Complex workouts to pair with this circuit:

  1. Anaerobic threshold run (can be paired with simple or complex workouts)
  2. Race pace or faster intervals
  3. Hill runs
  4. Fartlek

It is important to note that any complex lifting workout is not a recovery workout. So, while you can certainly do a complex circuit on a day that you are not running, this day should not be considered a recovery day.

The lure of pumping iron may get you out the door and add some training variety during the off-season. But don’t stop there. Stick with a lifting routine to increase your durability, improve your running mechanics, and ultimately keep you on the streets or trails hitting new PRs in 2016.

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