With the holiday season fast approaching, most people start to decrease how much running they are doing because they are just too busy. This is a good time to build a routine for strength training, by adding just 10-15 minutes of strength work a day. Below you will find my top FIVE go to exercises that I use with runners. I would love to add in compound exercises like deadlifts and squats, which are extremely important if you have the equipment to do them. Try adding these to your strength training routine at home and start to feel the difference! These will help reduce your risk of injury, while also helping to improve your performance.
Runner Step Up – This is by far my favorite exercise. Focuses on single leg stability, pelvic + hip control, and eccentric quad strength. Huge bang for your buck with this one. Start on a small box or step and try to move as slow as possible while maintaining control. Just barely touch your toe to the ground and then back up into the high knee position. This one will really bring out your weaknesses and is one that most people would significantly benefit from performing. Try doing 2×8 on each leg to start and increase reps to fatigue as you get more comfortable with the movement.
Lateral Toe Taps – This is another great single leg exercise to improve single leg stability, but also improve hip/pelvic control. Try using a medium resistance mini band to increase the difficulty of this exercise. Try 3×8 reps on each side focusing on slow and controlled movement.
Marching with Resistance/Weight – Grab some heavy kettlebells or dumbbells for this exercise and test your core strength. You may have noticed a theme by now, but these exercises are all single leg exercises. We don’t always start here, but we always want to end our rehab performing single leg activities to better replicate running. This one will again test your single leg stance, hip, and core strength. Try performing 3×30 second slow marches initially and then progress the duration towards fatigue.
Calf Raises– People often complain about calf, achilles, and plantar fascia pain. This is a go to exercise to maintain lower extremity tissue capacity, load tolerance, and try to prevent the above sinister injuries. Try these modifications to the traditional calf raise to increase localized loading, while taking balance out of the equation. Make sure to show the soleus some love and do some with your knee bent! Try 2×25 on each side for both exercises. Add weight as tolerated.
Single Leg Bridge– Now back to the single leg exercises! Focus on increased glute activation while performing this. Keep your core engaged as to not flare your ribs or arch your back when doing the bridge. It’s not about how high you get with your hips, it’s about how well you can engage your glutes! Try 3×12 on each leg.