Posted by Aurora
Resistance Training for Runners
For many runners, there's nothing better than lacing up and hitting the trail or pavement day after day after day, but running is only a part of the equation. In order to take your performance to the next level, you'll need to cross-train. Resistance training for runners builds and maintains muscles that help prevent injury and improve your overall fitness.
The further you want your legs to take you, the more you need to pay attention to the supporting joints and muscles that absorb much of the stress running puts on your body. It is important to incorporate nutrition and health supplements that build joint and muscle strength. It is also important to incorporate three days of resistance exercises into your post-run workout. Soon you'll be able to measure progress by the minutes shaved off your time.
The weight room isn't the only place to cross-train. Replace weight machines with gravity by hitting the hills. Running up hills works your glutes and leg muscles – calves, hamstrings and quads – way harder than a flat trail can. Plus, sprinting inclines will dramatically improve your speed.
One of the best ways to reduce the potential of lower back injury is to strengthen your core. Leg abductions allow you to target specific muscles around the hip, and they don't require any equipment. Lie on your side with your legs and feet stacked, and support your neck with your lower arm. Keeping your knees straight, lift your upper leg 45 degrees from the lower leg. Repeat 10 times, and then roll over and do the other side.
To the beginner, plank exercises look a lot easier than they feel. In its most basic form, the back is straight and the toes and elbows support your raised body. Once you're able to hold the position for 10 breaths, add an element of instability by raising a back leg and lifting the opposite arm. Planks build core stability and control, which makes your body feel like a machine when you're running “in the zone”.
Resistance bands are incredibly versatile equipment for runners. Sit on the floor with your knees bent and pull a resistance band around one foot. Hold an end with each hand, straighten the leg and then gradually bend it while continuing to pull on the band. Repeat 5-10 times on each leg.
If you don't have a mirror near your workout space, do squats against a wall to ensure your back stays straight. Stand on the center of a resistance band and hold an end in each hand. Shift your weight to the backs of your feet and lower yourself until your knees are 60 degrees from the floor. Hold this position for three breaths then use your legs to push yourself upright.
Don't ignore your upper body! Free weights or resistance bands help work the shoulders, biceps and triceps into resistance training for runners. These muscles aid balance, particularly when pushing race pace and going for a new PR.
Stand on one end of the band or grip a free weight. Begin with your left arm extended and raise the weight to your left shoulder. Hold for a breath before slowly extending back down. Wait about 30 seconds before switching arms and repeating the set.
Use both hands to hold one end of the band above your head with your arms bent back at the elbows, and stand on the other end of the band. Extend your arms so they're straight above your head then gradually lower them. Repeat about 10 times or until you fatigue.
Engage your core and shoulders by doing arm raises to the side and in front of you. Stand so your feet are aligned with your shoulders and raise one arm until it's even with the shoulder and straight. Hold for two breaths before slowly lowering. Be careful not to lean back when lifting the weight as this can injure your back. Use your shoulders, or reduce the resistance until you can build up to a heavier weight.
Many runners change their route often just to keep things interesting. Resistance training for runners will add a whole new level of variety to the routine, and make you a stronger, better athlete.