5 strength tips for better running
I hate that perception that all runners are gangly, with no muscle. Strength training is vital to prevent injury, increase muscle endurance and improve body composition and posture. Combining resistance exercise can also increase your human growth hormone which actually assists in metabolism.
For trail runners we don’t need to give up that fresh air and adventure we get from being outdoors to pursuit weight training in a gym. Everything we need to introduce more resistance training in our workouts is right there with you in nature.
Be aware of your surroundings, and looking for these resistance challenges will improve our proprioception and spatial awareness.
Improve functional movement patterns- Instead of isolating muscle groups we are continuing to use whole body movements that will complement everyday physical tasks that need to be done.
So what can we use? And how?
Trees can be used in a number of ways to build strength.
- Pull ups- This will improve our grip strength, core strength and to stabilize and shoulders and strengthen the muscles in our backs.
For runners it’s important to have space in our chest to enable enough oxygen consumption and removal of CO2 and waste products we need to have good posture.
If you can’t do a pull up, you can always just hang to build the resilience and strength of the shoulders, grip and core. What’s more fun is swinging, swing on the branch forward and back, side to side again building the central strength to support you in your lift.
If you’re looking to challenge your pull up you can also add in leg movements, to work your obliques and rotational strength.
2. Climbing! We’re talking trees so go and climb one, looking at problem solving of a tree will not only strengthen your whole body but also your mind deciding risks, changing force or grip, where you place your body moving through all your planes of movement.
3. Balance: Every time we step one foot in front if the other we are experiencing a form of balance so your body should be exercised regularly to create a strong relationship, between your environment, brain and muscle memory to adjust the body and respond to the signals at a faster rate.
The way we do this could be a with a fallen tree branch or even just standing on one leg and challenging that position to move the unsupported leg in different ways. This will also help to activate and strengthen your core and gluteal (butt muscles) prime movers in locomotion.
4. Get your squat on! Amazing movement for runners building leg and glute strength, hip mobility and flexibility, ankle strength and posture.
You can do this anywhere although to challenge the exercise I like to add in some precision jumping. So looking at a point and deciding, yep I’m going to jump all over you. Plan the movement and then take a controlled leap, coordinating your balance and soft landing when you reach it. This really helps in perception of where your centre of gravity is, if we’re too far on our toes we over balance forward and fall. If we’re too far back on our heels we overbalance back and end up on our ass, so you’re landing is going to be super helpful in correcting your landing movement pattern for when you’re running as well.
Challenge these with some one-legged squats and hopping as well if you really want to know what butt burning is, but don’t forget to balance out and do the other side as well.
For your squats is really watch your knees are not collapsing in or out and they’re being guided over your toes. Keep your eye gaze forward and chest up, to correct posture and engage through those abdominal muscles. Finish the movement by engaging through your glutes and hinging forward from the hips.
5. Lunge: Walking lunges, standing lunges, backwards lunges, jumping lunges, do them all! They’re all going to help to open your hips, and strengthen those key muscles and posture we’ve been talking about. All complimenting you’re running technique.
To challenge all of this, why not try some natural parkour.
You’ve probably seeing Parkour in metropolitan areas, but natural parkour is just as amazing. Just like your precision jumping you’re looking for that next obstacle, you’re challenging all of these movements we’ve just listed. To crawl, balance, hang, swing, jump run. For your brain this is immensely beneficial. Your spatial awareness heightening, your body’s reaction time improving, even your vision will be widened and improved. Can you see how these things are all going to benefit you in life as well? To think on your feet, to view problems in all aspects of a scale. To monitor risks, that could potentially save your life, to know limits, to not be afraid, to build confidence.
The best thing we can do for our bodies is to allow it to be challenged and explore. We all have natural abilities and some things, but a runner is never just a runner, a dancer is never just a dancer, we’re all human and we all crave to learn new things, in our bodies and life.
See the world the way a child does. An everyday adventure to learn.