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Running

6 Ways To Make Yourself a Better, Faster Runner – Without Actually Running Anywhere

This simple strength training circuit will have you running harder for longer

There’s no two ways about it, to be good at running need to run regularly. But just adding more and more miles to your fitness routine isn’t going to magically release your inner Usain Bolt.

To supercharge your running fitness, condition your body, build your stamina, and reduce the risk of injury, it’s crucial to strength train too.

By avoiding upper-body work, runners may be doing themselves out of a performance enhancing boost

“To be a better, faster runner, you need to condition all of the muscles that are going to work hard while you’re running and that includes your upper body and your core, which stabilise you while you run,” says Rob Jones, chief fitness guru and personal trainer at StrideFit .

“By avoiding upper-body work, runners may be doing themselves out of a performance enhancing boost. I’ve combined a few simple exercises that offer a mix of strength and stamina training into a strength training circuit for runners. This circuit can be squeezed in easily twice a week alongside your regular running routine.”

The runner’s strength training circuit


How to complete the circuit

Do the following number of reps for each exercise:

  • Push plank: 10 reps
  • Walking lunges and knee raise: 20 reps
  • Plank side taps: 10 reps
  • Single leg split squats: between 3-6 reps each leg
  • Speed skaters: 20 reps
  • Basketball jumps: 10 reps on each leg

Take a 30-second break, then repeat the circuit as many times as you can within these times:

  • Beginners: 8 minutes
  • Intermediates: 10-12 minutes
  • Advanced: 14-16 minutes

Runner’s strength exercises in detail

1. The push plank

How to do it:

Start in a plank position – essentially resting on toes and forearms, with elbows under shoulders, forming a straight body-line all the way between shoulders and ankles. Now keeping the core strong take one forearm off the floor and push up on that side, then do the same with the other side so you’re in a full press-up position. Return back to your forearms and repeat, this time pushing up from the other arm.

If your core’s isn’t fully toned, it’s going to absorb some of your power when you run instead of transmitting it down through your legs

Why is it good for runners?

Excellent for core stability and strong shoulders – If your core isn’t fully toned, it’s going to absorb some of your power when you run instead of transmitting it all down through your legs. A strong core also stops you compensating with other parts of your body, namely your back – if you start overusing your lower back muscles to support yourself while running it’s likely you’ll get injured pretty quickly.

2. Walking lunges with a knee raise

How to do it:

Standing feet together and hands on hips, take a large step forward and drop the back knee almost to the floor by bending both knees to 90-degrees, taking care not to over-bend the front knee (tip: you should just be able to see the toes of the front foot over the knee). Now stand up through the front leg, powerfully driving up the knee of the back leg as you do so, before taking another large step forward.

Builds strength and stamina in hamstrings, quads, glutes and hips.

Why is it good for runners?

Builds strength and stamina in hamstrings, quads, glutes and hips. You’re pushing yourself off a leg in a runner’s movement here, so it’s a great exercise to mimic the running motion – pushing down through the leg and off the toe.

Adding the knee raise increases the efficiency of your stride. Don’t start running with your knees right up by your chin, that would be silly, but exaggerate the movement during your training and you’ll feel the benefit when you run next.

3. Plank side taps

How to do it:

Start in a plank position as before. Keeping the core strong and hips still, take one arm off the floor to reach out and tap to the side. Bring the arm back and repeat on the other side.

Why is it good for runners?

You’re holding your position, but altering your pivot points here, so you’re challenging your core and asking it to adapt to more weight on one side. This is important because when you’re running, though you’re asking your core to stay tight, you’re moving from side to side naturally too.

4. Single leg split squats

How to do it:

Standing around half a metre in front of a sturdy chair or bench, take one leg back and rest the top of the foot on the bench or chair behind. Keeping your torso upright bend both legs and drop the back knee towards the ground, then stand back up through the front leg. Repeat for the desired reps then swap sides.

It’s a great move for building power in your legs to increase speed

Why is it good for runners?

Builds strength in quads, glutes and hamstrings. This exercise is perfectly doable, but pretty tough because they it’s entirely strength-focused. It’s a great move for building power in your legs to increase speed.

5. Speed skaters

How to do it:

Mimicking a speed skater’s movements on the ice, from standing take the right foot behind the left and tap the toe on the floor while simultaneously swinging both arms to the left. Now repeat the move jumping to the right.

This move gives you powerful glutes, good running form and better strength and endurance

Why is it good for runners?

Gives you powerful glutes, good running form and better strength and endurance. Often neglected, bum muscles are one of the key muscles in the body; they’re a huge muscle group and are integral in the way your leg moves.

If your glutes are weak it can lead to instability in your knees, plus they’re one of the most important muscles that connect to the back and the top of the hamstrings – the runner’s powerhouse.

6. Basketball jumps

How to do it:

Start by taking one leg back behind, bending the front leg so you can drop and place both hands on the floor in front. Now, in one fluid movement, take your hands off the floor and above your head as you jump off the front leg. Then land softly on the same leg dropping the other leg back and taking your hands back to the floor. Repeat for the desired reps on one side then swap to the other.

Very much about power, this move will improve your kick during a running race

Why is it good for runners?

This exercise hits the quads more than anything else, but works your hamstrings and glutes too. Very much about power, it will improve your kick during a running race, giving you that extra acceleration you need to pass someone, tackle a hill, or sprint to victory at the finish.

Personal Trainer, Rob Jones, runs StrideFit, indoor and outdoor fitness bootcamp classes across Brighton and Hove

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