Week 5: Strength Training for the Run

I don’t think it’s quite sunk in yet that TriDu is only a week away! Training has ramped up big time, but with that comes the possibility of injury. So being the little weakling that I am, here are some exercises I’ve been doing on the side to help me complete my run training and (hopefully) help me finish my race in the best form possible.
Squats. What I love about squats is that there are so many variations. Who knew sitting down could be done in so many different ways? You can do one-leg squats, wide squats, deep squats, jump squats, squats with weights, the list is endless.
squat-exercise
Tips: keep your toes pointing forward, your upper body straight (back flat), and think about sitting down unto something (“it’s like you’re going to sit on the toilet!” I would scream to my swimmers during dryland training) – you don’t want your knees extending past your toes. Another great benefit is that it will help strengthen the muscles around your knees, if the knees tend to be a problem for you.
Lunges. Another great exercise that you can do anywhere, and that you can change up in a whole ton of different way: add weights (ex. Doing bicep curls at the same time), do lunge jumps, side lunges (as in Campbell’s article) or even just doing lunges stepping backwards instead of forwards.

lunges

Tips: Keep your upper body straight as in a squat, and you want your legs to be at 90 degrees, without your bottom knee touching the floor (I like to do lunges in front of a mirror so I can double check that I’m doing it properly).
Core. Working the core is beneficial for any sport. I like doing planks, because it’s easy to go into different positions (like side plank, or lifting one leg up). The key: stay flat as a table. I always imagine a group of high-class English ladies having tea where I’m the table, and I better not be the reason they spill their Earl Grey (the imagery also helps keep my mind distracted during the harder bits). You also want your heels over your toes, and your shoulders above your elbows, with your arms shoulder-width apart.
plankside-plankStretching. Stretching is so important for injury prevention and proper recovery, and knowing that, I still don’t spend as much time on it as I should, and sometimes I don’t even do it at all – so please don’t do what I do, and take the time to stretch after each workout. I have to do a lot of hip flexor stretches along with squats as recommended by my doctor for my problem knees, and conveniently enough, these are perfect stretches for running. A friend recommended along with the hip stretches to stretch out the piriformis, and I also like to stretch out my calves and hamstrings after each run, as that’s where I feel tightness the most.
In terms of repetitions, I usually go 2-3 sets of 12-20 for the squats/lunges (if I’m doing them with weights or jumps, I usually do less) and 2 rounds of planks (45-1min each for a front and two side planks). When I stretch, I like to go for at least 30 seconds, but with the hip ones I go for a minute.
What do you do to strength train? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter (#TriHard)!

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