To train effectively as a runner, you have to do much more than run, according to Heatherose Peluso Pitman, a fitness health coach in the Health Education Department at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco. “When runners are training, they overlook the need for strength and focus too much on endurance,” says Pitman.
Building strength in all your muscle groups is essential for overall conditioning and to prevent injuries. For example, Pitman explains, “You need to develop strength in the whole muscle groups that keep your pelvis stabilized for proper alignment.”
But if you’re not a fan of gyms and strength training apparatus, don’t worry. You can put together just as effective a strength training regimen at home, Pitman says.”My preference is for body weight plus free weights instead of using machines.”
If, like many people, you have no idea how to start strength training, Pitman suggest working with a fitness coach or trainer, who can design a personalized regimen to address your individual needs, body type and fitness level. If this isn’t workable for you, she recommends a series of all-body weight resistance exercises, such as the 7-Minute Workout (officially called High-Intensity Circuit Training Using Body Weight) designed by the American College of Sports Medicine. The New York Times created a handy list of the recommended exercises in this regimen, along with illustrations showing how to do them.
While this regimen is a great overall workout, Pitman also suggests adding these exercises which specifically promote healthy running.
Standing Side Leg Raise
Stand on one leg with your arms at your side, or slightly extended for balance. Raise the opposite leg slowly out to the side, being careful not to let your standing hip just out to the side.) Keep your pelvis aligned straight above your knees.) “This one exercise benefits your lateral hip strength which is important for running,” says Pitman.
Stand with your hands behind your head and your feet pointing straight ahead, then squat towards the ground with your knees directly over your feet. (Be careful not to slump forward; your chest should be raised.) Doing squats is one of the best ways to strengthen your hip muscles and glutes. And hip strength is key to good proper alignment which you need to protect your knees and prevent injury. Squats also help you develop core strength in your abs and the large muscles that support your hips and rear.
Side Plank Plus Leg Raise
Start on your side facing forward propped up on one arm or forearm. (See photo.) Stabilize the foot that’s touching the ground, then lift your top leg up towards the ceiling. “This exercise targets hip strength and balance,” Pitman says.
Do at least ten minutes of whole-body exercises and your running will benefit greatly, Pitman says. “You need to build mass in all of the muscle groups for endurance, power, and strength.”