Strength & Conditioning
Run Specific Strength & Conditioning
This short article will hopefully explain the basics of run specific strength & conditioning and why it is important. Think of strength training as your running foundation. A house without any foundations will eventually start to crack and fall down. Without a few strength & conditioning basics, there will be a limit to the amount of improvements you make in your running before cracks appear and injury creeps up.
“Run Specific Strength & Conditioning”
First of all to re-assure you, this need mean nothing more than 5minutes here & there or a couple of 20min slots in your own home in front of the TV. Of course it could also mean taking classes somewhere if that’s what you like to do. Why “Run Specific” – because as runners we spend a lot of time on one foot or the other and hopefully not much time on two feet. Many of the basic exercises that benefit us as runners are done on a “Single Leg”. This not only improves balance but better replicates the stresses and loading associated with running.
The “King Pole” or “Centre Pole” of a big top tent plays a crucial role in keeping the tent upright and strong. Think about your core as performing a similar function for you as the King Pole does for a big top. If your core is nice and strong, it will be much more able to support you during your training and will assist in preventing injury. Your core muscles are made up of around 30 different muscles that connect your legs to your hips, spine, and rib cage. Here’s an article from runners world which details them – Click Here. It’s important to target all these muscles in the right way for maximum benefit.
I would highly recommend Kinetic Revolution as a good resource for top advice on run specific strength & conditioning, core, balance and proprioception. There is a really good free 30 day challenge which will introduce you to a whole range of run specific exercises with explanatory videos. Click here to get started
Work on the basics of being able to balance well on one leg. Of course once your core is nice & strong, your balance will naturally improve.
Here’s a good basic balance & proprioception routine – Click Here
The glutes are the powerhouse muscles which propel you forward when running. Often, the hamstrings do too much work and can be over used and/or tight and/or become injured.
Single Leg Squat https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJCA7pQ1o7g
Elastic Band Walking (Bands very cheap to buy) – Click Here
There are many ways to target your core muscles and planks are just one. This video – Click Here, shows 10 different sorts of planks. It gets quite technical and the chap is obviously very good. Have a look at the first 3 for a start unless you are a regular planker. I would suggest using this plank challenge as a really long term 12month project and build up to the more advanced stuff once you’ve mastered the basics. Good form is demonstrated in this video and it is really important to maintain good form for a shorter time rather than have bad form for longer. A good way to build up over all time if you’re new to core work, is by doing reps with recovery. For example, start with 10/15/20/30/45secs etc (depending on your level), rest for 30secs, repeat a couple of times. Gradually increase the plank time and reduce the recovery time.