Runners set goals to become better in the sport and improve themselves. Although one of the first goals that many runners make is to be faster, a better goal—that will eventually lead to increased speed—is the goal of being a stronger runner. Being a stronger runner involves training beyond just running, and it also involves nutrition and rest. If a runner can follow the path to being stronger in her sport, there is also a chance to reduce injuries. Here are the top ten things that a runner can do to be stronger.
This is the most obvious one, but working with weights can help strengthen your muscles and prevent injuries. You don’t even need weights to do some of the exercises. Push-ups, sit-ups and planks can all help strengthen your core. You can also do squats and lunges without needing weights. You can stick to very simple routine that will not take more than 20 minutes. Try to include at least one exercise for each muscle group.
Here are some very basic ones from top to bottom:
Shoulder shrugs: Hold weights in each hand and just shrug shoulders up and drop them down. Repeat about 20 times.
Bicep curls: Hold weights in each hand and curl them in toward you, then let them go back down. Repeat about 10 times and do 2 sets.
Triceps curls: Hold one weight behind your head with both hands and keeping your elbows in near your head, lift the weight up and down. Do 2 sets of 10.
Sit-ups: Do as many as you can until you feel the burn.
Push- ups: Do 2 sets of 10.
Planks: Hold for one minute or longer, if you can.
Squats: Do two sets of 50.
If you have access to machines, add exercises like leg curls, leg extensions.
Box jumping and jumping stairs are both great ways to become stronger. If you are uncomfortable with jumping, step up on the stair or box 10 times with each leg.
So much power comes from your hips that this is an important area to strengthen. Leg lifts are an easy way to work them. Put on leg weights to make it harder.
Many runners stretch before or after a run, but I think you need to do more than that. Find times when you can incorporate stretching into your daily activities and you will be even more flexible.
Workout In The Pool
I am always humbled when I try to swim hard. A water workout is a great way to complement your running. In the shallow end, run from one side of the pool to the other side. Stand near the wall and do leg lifts. Go in the deep end and tread water. Get a kickboard and kick from one end to the other.
Run The Stairs (Or Hills)
This is a quick way to become stronger quickly. Being confident on hills can make the difference with how you do in races. Many people see a hill and stop; you will be the one who cruises over it.
Eat For Strength
I think there are some basic rules of nutrition that are true for everyone—fruits and vegetables are good for you and we should avoid too much junk food—but I think beyond that, everyone has different things that work for his or her body. I have a friend that swears that eating a boiled egg and ham before a race makes him faster, and he is very fast. I think it is important, though, to make sure that you are taking in enough calories and that most of your intake is healthy and make sure to refuel after a workout.
Make sure that you are well hydrated the day before a big event, not just the day of the event. Waiting to drink well the day of a race is too late. Find what works for you as far as what you drink. I found out the hard way during an ultra that power aid did not agree with my stomach.
This is probably the hardest thing for runners to do, but it is so important to find time to rest and recharge.