Earlier this week we looked at why implementing strength and conditioning into your routine can help you as a runner, particularly if you are looking to up your distance or venture off road heading into the trails and mountains. If you missed this, then you can recap and catch up here.
“The strength and conditioning exercises played a huge part in knocking over 2 mins per mile off my previous 100 mile time meaning I finished the Hardmoors 110 in just over 21 hours. It played an enormous role in getting me up and down the relentless climbs and descents in The Alps on the UTMB.” – Jason Millward
The feature in trail running magazine, “75 Strength training tips for runners”, highlighted some great ideas and exercises used by the pros. One theme throughout this was that strength work was indeed a good thing, though there was also a wide variety of ways in which to implement these into your training.
These range from pilates, terrain runs with a heavy pack, stair jumps, circuit training, kettle bells, yoga and even using some free weights: loads to choose from and it is all good stuff. Having lots of variety can help spice things up and prevent it becoming a chore and more of something you enjoy doing.
If time for classes is a limitation or you just want something that is going to be quick and easy to implement, we have a few moves below which can get you going and are pretty time efficient giving you good bang for your buck in time and effort.
You can click on most of the exercises below to see a video demonstration of these being done with a link to the complete playlist here.
If you feel you are not doing these quite right I always recommend speaking to an instructor or friendly gym provider face to face to help you fine tune these.
Basic Moves (ADD MUSCLE GROUPS)
Squats – Glutes, quads, core, hip and ankle mobility
Planks – Core, glutes, posture, back support and all round awesome exercise
Lunges – Quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves and core
Press ups – Huge amount of muscle groups, posture, functional strength
Mountain climbers – Biceps, triceps, pecs, core, quadriceps, hamstrings, hip adductors, hip abductors.
Reverse bridge – Mainly Glutes and hamstrings
Deadlifts – Hamstrings, core, glutes, back, shoulders, quads
These are all fairly basic moves and you may already have them nailed down, so don’t be afraid to mix things up; for example if you can already do a plank for 3 minutes but don’t have much time, try doing it with a leg raise as well. Alternatively, there are lots of variations on each of the exercises which may also work slightly different muscle groups. Here are a few based on the above exercises
Planks – Crab plank or with a leg raise, side plank and side plank with leg raise
Deadlifts – single leg deadlift
Also, adding some instability into your platform can start to make you work on your balance and proprioception, great for times when you may find yourself sliding around in mud or moving over rocky terrain. I really like to use a wobble pad for instability, especial as I have had ankle issues in the past. Here are a few to give you the idea:
Planks with your feet on a gym ball
If you want to take the instability even further, have some fun with a slackline and gym ball!
How much and When?
Obviously, it all depends where you are starting from, what phase of training you may be in and what your own strengths and weaknesses are. You may benefit from some more bespoke exercises which target certain areas, so people who are prone to IT band issues could be better focussing on more specific stability exercises or ones which work specific muscle groups such as clamshells or sliding rear leg lunges.
Doing most of your strength work tends to be around the start of your training year. Doing lots of heavy work can take it out of you so doing this a few weeks before a target race wouldn’t be something I recommend. Going into a maintenance routine during your race phase can keep things ticking over and you will be surprised how this keep things topped up if you have put the hard graft in earlier in the year.
Depending on your schedule, getting 3 or even 4 sessions in a week will see you reaping some significant gains. Each session, you could pick a range of say 5-8 exercises and run through them all 2,3 or even 4 times, doing high reps or spending a couple of minutes on each one.
If blocking out time isn’t easy then try doing 3 over 10 minutes a couple of times a day. It may not sound much but if you add that up over a month, you accumulate 10 hours working on your core. Over a year, this would equate to a whole 5 days solid – just like your abs would be!
If you found this useful or have any comments question or have done anything you do yourself which you find useful then please send them in. Next week we will be looking at how you can get faster! If you want to get these and more running tips directly then please register below by putting in your email address.
Until then, happy running.
I started coaching Jason Millward earlier this year. He has put some seriously hard graft into his training and has an extremely inspiring story. Having only started running a couple of years ago, he finished 2nd in the Hardmoors 110 and completed the UTMB. Read more about him here:
“Without a doubt the strength and conditioning program Jayson developed for me in preparation for both the Hardmoors 110 & UTMB had the biggest impact on my running in 2016. No longer do I think you can get by with just putting the miles in.
After initially discussing my goals and targets for 2016 with Jayson he was able to develop a custom training plan that suited me and allowed me to work on my weaknesses and build on my strengths.
The strength and conditioning exercises played a huge part in knocking over 2 mins per mile off my previous 100 mile time meaning I finished the Hardmoors 110 I just over 21 hours. It played an enormous role in getting me up and down the relentless climbs and descents in The Alps on the UTMB.
His in depth knowledge and experience of ultra running meant that he knew exactly what I needed to do in order to achieve my goals. Working with Jayson has been a pleasure and I really wouldn’t hesitate in recommending him if you are serious about improving your running.” – Jason Millward