When you are planning a running event whether it’s a 5km fun run or an ultra marathon it is important to include a good strength and conditioning program.
As a personal trainer, I work with runners on a regular basis and each one needs different routines to get them performing at an optimum level.
All too often a runner will get injured in race preparation which could have been prevented had they included a strengthening program. Or a runner will feel weak on race day or underperform; again this could be directly attributed to not having focused on a strengthening program.
Very often a lifetime of poor technique or bad habit can cause a muscular chain reaction of alternating tight and weak muscle groups which can pull the gait of a runner out of whack. It may not be until they are in pain and end up on the chiropractor’s bed that they even realize there is a problem. A very simple muscle strengthening and conditioning program where muscular balance is the goal can prevent this from happening.
Muscle-strengthening and conditioning of the body through running drills designed to replicate running forces is paramount if you want the body to develop in a way that it understands what is expected of it when you start to ramp up the miles on the road.
Taking strength as an umbrella term to encompass muscle endurance, you need to develop the running muscles in this order. The main running muscles are the calf, thigh (quadriceps and rectus femoris), and hip extensors (gluteal and hamstring muscles)
Muscular endurance is best trained with low weight and a high number of repetitions. The quickest and easiest way to get this right is to book with a personal trainer who can help you fine-tune the technique for optimal results.
Choose exercises that replicate the kind of movements you would perform through a run cycle, calf raises for example will simulate leg recoil. Muscular strength is best trained with a high weight and a low number of repetitions; in both instances, the principle of muscle overload must be applied in order to achieve failure. To develop muscle power you must load then explode, this term is used to describe a plyometric type of exercise.
The next stage of your program should be conditioning; here you want to include speed agility and quickness drills that are all pertinent to running. There are literally thousands of drills that your running coach or personal trainer will be able to select from in order that you are able to work on developing your weaknesses and become a stable, coordinated efficient runner.
It’s important not to expect miracles overnight, these changes take time, you will be re-routing neural wiring in some instances where your previous technique was not too good and developing new neural pathways when picking up brand new techniques. This pattern of nerve firing can take a while to bed in before it becomes the chosen one but hang in there, your race times will demonstrate the huge gains to be had and your injury chances will diminish significantly.