The warmer weather means it’s time to take your cardio workouts outdoors and few exercises are as effective as running to boost fitness and burn calories.
However, running is a high-impact activity that can cause injuries. But a strong runner is a resilient athlete who is less at risk from injury. And a strong runner is an efficient runner.
It is also worth building your strength before running because many of us are functionally weak due to a more sedentary lifestyle and the many hours we spend sitting each day.
Get strong first
This has resulted in poor mobility and flexibility, weak cores and glutes, and shortened hip flexors, which are all essential for optimal, efficient running.
And when we try to push ‘weak’ bodies farther or faster, or both, we open ourselves up to a host of potential issues, like niggles or even serious injuries like muscles tears, ligament strains or tendinitis.
Focus areas before you start running
Common weak areas we should all focus on include the glutes, hips, and core, which are all essential to providing stability while running and generating the power needed to run faster for longer.
Weak muscles and joint structures also fatigue faster, which is when runners start to lose their form. This can create compensation patterns as the body relies on other muscle groups, which can result in strength imbalances that eventually lead to injuries that could sideline your training for weeks or even months.
Incorporating a few simple sport-specific exercises 2-3 times a week can significantly improve your overall strength.
Ideal examples include:
- Single-leg suspended lunges
- Single-leg Romanian deadlifts with arm rows
- Banded squats with side lifts
- Lying band kicks
- Banded glute bridge
Most exercises should ideally include unilateral movements that require you to load and stabilise one leg at a time to more closely mimic the running action.
This training approach will improve your stability and balance and ensures you activate the right running muscles in the correct sequence.
Author: Pedro van Gaalen
When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.