Not all runners like the gym, sometimes it's a big reason they started running in the first place. Bulky muscle and boring repetition of exercises in the claustrophobic environment of most gyms can be a huge turnoff for those that like to get outside and see/make the world turn. If you take running seriously, you’re already adding yoga, interval and balance training to your workout because you know it will only make you better. The same goes for weightlifting. You don’t need to be Mr. or Mrs. Olympia, but some strength added to your conditioning will give you power, stamina and the explosiveness needed to overcome the pack.
Do squats. Period. Barbell squats, dumbbell squats, Smith machine squats, lunges (considered to be part of the squat family), body weight squats, jump squats, wall squats, whatever method you choose, we just want you to squat. This is an ancient exercise that will never go out of style. Squats should be at the core of any strength training routine as they strengthen your base, give you power, and assist all other muscle groups for just about any athletic movement. Proper squat technique engages almost every muscle in your legs; from your calves to your butt and even your lower back. Whether you play football or tennis or want to increase the ease with which you can attack a steeply rutted incline on a trail run, squats will be your ally.
The renegade row takes care of most of your important upper body muscles needed in running. The renegade row has you with a pair of dumbbells in the pushup position on the floor. Do a pushup then raise or row the the dumbbell up to your side. Alternate sides with each pushup. Done properly this engages your all important core muscles also - the connection between your upper and lower body and the muscles used to stabilize your spine - chest muscles, triceps, and muscles in your back, mainly your latissimus dorsi, or lats. This exercise can help build aerobic stamina while engaging the muscles needed for proper running form.
As we mentioned, the core is all-important. The muscles that make up the band that wraps around your lower back and abdomen are so crucial for speed, stamina, and fighting common injuries such as lower back compression. A strong core lends itself to so much both in and outside of athletics and a flat, taut tummy never offended anyone. Just like squats, we don’t care what crunches you’re doing as long as you are working all angles of your abdominals and lower back. Check out some of these exercises from Runner’s World.
Here is a workout that can help build muscle but also serve as therapy. Foam rollers can be used for the legs, back, and even your sore lats (from tearing up that renegade row). These work like deep tissue massages if done properly helping to deliver blood to sore muscles while assisting in the release and reuptake of lactic acid.It’s a massage that actually helps repair and build muscle with the ancillary benefit of spinal alignment. Focusing on the legs can soothe and help with glute, quad, calf, and hamstring development as well as assist in opening up the hip flexors. These workouts can be tough and a little painful, but the benefits are outstanding…and therapeutic.
Ahh the hammies. Hip extension is the act of driving your upper thigh/leg backwards after your foot hits the ground. This involves the hip, glute, and surprisingly the hamstring (more than the quad). Strong, conditioned hamstrings are an essential part to improving power, speed, and distance. It is important to match strength building on the front of the leg (quadriceps) with workouts on the back (hamstrings) to improve overall strength and reduce the chances for injury. An underdeveloped hamstring can get pulled quickly when an overdeveloped hamstring acts against it. The hamstring curl is simple and straightforward putting absolutely no stress on the back while isolating the hamstring.