Strong Runner

This video blog follows up on the recent gait analysis one where I mentioned that I would film you some examples of strength exercises to compliment a runners training…. and I fancied a bit of a skip round the woods anyway. But before the main feature starts please read through these important trailers:

  • Strength underpins function. Strength comes first… what you do with that strength is up to you. Think of it as the fuel that you put into your running sessions. It’s like driving a car… fuel in, then go somewhere. It doesn’t work so well the other way round.
  • Out on that drive when you get the dreaded ping and the orange light pops up on your fuel gauge then you just can’t relax. Where is the next fuel stop? Gotta be 30 miles worth left in the tank? Surely. It’s the same on a run. The pinging light this time is often called the “bonk”… and its not nice. You hit that wall due to physiological factors like hydration and calorie/energy depletion; you hit it mentally due to factors such as lack of experience and anxiety; and you smack into it due to physical factors such as poor technique and lack of foundation strength.
  • Stock up on strength and you not only have more resources in your tank to improve performance, but you also create a “buffer zone” to help you resist early fatigue and potential injury.
  • I believe that all runners should incorporate regular and progressive strength training within their preparation. It’s a no lose situation. New trainers… might give you a temporary lift. Sciencey sounding new gel… give you something to do on a run. Brightly coloured packing tape stuck to your calf… don’t make me go there. But challenging yourself to increase your strength base… its always going to pay off…. and it’s free.

Here are some rules before you get out in the garden and do this:

  • Obviously normal T’s and C’s apply. If you are currently injured then do the right thing. Say for example you have a patella-femoral joint problem then get that checked out before doing this stuff…. however, if you haven’t got a patella-femoral problem then doing this stuff is an excellent way of stopping you getting one.
  • This is only one example of one “form” of strength training…. namely a bodyweight driven programme primarily for leg strength… with a “strength endurance” bias. It is an example of what you can do with no equipment or specialist facilities. It is not a max strength or high overload workout… for that you may want to get into some well coached lifting. But you can still achieve overload, and you will need to.
  • Why “overload”? Because you are trying to create “adaptation” within the body, and to promote that you need to be imposing on it a physical demand that is very close to it’s current limits… otherwise you are just practicing what you can already do… which isn’t training, it’s just maintaining.
  • So that brings us to the numbers game. There are nine exercises in the workout. How many sets and reps of each? I can’t tell you as I don’t know how fit you the reader are, and if you are familiar with this sort of loading. I can make up some numbers but they may not be relevant to you. We are going to get you to do that, and to help you out please hit the link below to download or print this illustrated workout sheet of all the exercises in the video:

Runners Strength Training Leg Workout

  • With almost all of the exercises you are shifting your whole bodyweight through one leg, and through ranges and positions and speeds that highlight this body load, and this workout is purposefully single body area dominant… so big numbers probably won’t be needed. Start with a benchmarking workout of 1 set of 12 reps of each exercise, for each leg/side with a 45 second interval between sets. Write down your numbers and how easy/hard that felt as you progress through the workout. Monitor your response the next day…. any significant muscle soreness etc, and then next work out start adapting your numbers. Have you got it in you to do a 2 set rotation? May be bang some of the selection up to 15 reps? And with a strength endurance bias you may wish to reduce your rest interval times. Conversely you may want to take a single exercise towards “reps to failure”…. but in that case make sure you have a long rest period before you move on to another. Just don’t practice what you can already do… use the numbers, build on them, build your strength.

I guess it is a simple choice… you can be a runner, or you can be a strong runner. Which one are you?