We always include strength training in our running plans. We believe it is a key part of any successful plan. The one move we always include is the Single Leg Deadlift. It tones the hamstrings, the hips and the glutes. All three are needed to stabilize the body while running. Additionally, balancing on one leg reduces strength imbalance between left and right sides. Add this one move into every workout and your legs will feel stronger and healthier. Do 2 sets of 15 reps per leg. GO!
No matter how strong I am, how in shape I am or how much yoga I'm doing, I'm sore - A LOT! I sometimes feel like my hamstrings are made of lead. This feeling has been increasing over the past few weeks as my miles have ramped up and I'm doing track workouts. The soreness and pain diminish pretty quickly after running, it rears its ugly head during my runs. This has happened before and through trial and error, I discovered what relieves this soreness and pain (besides total rest): strength exercises and the MELT METHOD.
I still do yoga, foam roll and stretch but the combination of strength and MELT have relieved my body of so much soreness and pain, it's like a miracle. Seriously. Below details what I've been doing and why it helps.
Strength exercises - these exercises specifically target my hamstrings and glutes. I need to build up strength so they don't fatigue as quickly and are less prone to injury.
MELT Method: I use the actual MELT balls but you can use a tennis ball and golf ball. I do this after every run and in the mornings if my feet feel cranky. The reason MELT is effective for hamstring and glute issues is because the technique addresses dehydration. We have connective tissue all over our body, and in its simplest form, is what holds our muscles and organs in place. When this tissue is dehydrated, it doesn't move as well. When you bring back fluids to the tissues, you feel better and your body moves more easily. Check out this example of a 3 minute foot release from the MELT Method founder. Sometimes I just roll my feet on the large green roller (you can use a frozen water bottle). Do this for a week and I promise, you'll feel the difference.
As running coaches who promote long term, injury-free running, strength work is always a part of our recommended weekly routine for every runner out there. Incorporating strength doesn't come naturally to a lot of runners and often feels overwhelming. So, where to start? Start with just one move a week and build from there. Hot Bird Running has you covered with our strength move of the week!
Move of the Week: Single Leg Deadlifts
Why we love these? This movement strengthens your hips, engages your hamstrings and gets the glutes firing - all of which are needed for stabilizing the body while running. Plus, balancing on one leg reduces the strength imbalance between your left and right sides. Bonus - this also feels like a great stretch at the end of your runs.
Repeat 8-15 times on one side. Switch legs and repeat.
by Meghan Reynolds
In honor of Jessica's and Matt's road trip from Brooklyn to Portland, we put together a bunch of Rest Stop Workouts. They are doing these exercises during their rest stops. Matt loves doing them Crossfit style - as fast as he can, while Jessica, who is 7 months pregnant, is taking them nice and slow and concentrating on form. She's also not jumping so her jumping jacks are static jacks.
Take this workout with you on your next long drive. It'll keep you awake and refreshed! Look for more workouts throughout June. They are tried and tested by Matt and Jessica.
We love being outdoors and pretty much do anything we can to avoid the gym, with the exception of our favorite yoga and pilates classes. However, we need to stay strong to ensure that we are able to run efficiently, faster and maintain overall balance in our body.
So, if you are like us and don't relish the gym and weights, make your living room or your local park your very own personal gym!
Here are our favorite exercises. We do these 2-3 times a week and sometimes mix them up within our run. We recommend warming up with a fast walk for slow jog for about 10 minutes and then jumping into these exercises that only require your body weight.
Walk outs: These suckers will get your heart rate up and strength your whole body. Make sure you hold your core tight and breath.
Single Leg Squat: Improve your balance, flexibility and strength your leg muscles all at the same time!
Step Back Lunge: This variation puts less stress on the knees. If your knees hurt while doing this exercise, try a stationary lunge by stepping your leg back and then moving up and down without returning to the starting position.
Single Leg Deadlift: We love this exercise because it improves one legged stability and gets your glutes firing which is key for an efficient and powerful stride.
Calf Raises: All to often, runners overlook their lower leg muscles. Add in calf raises to increase strength and ward off injuries.
Superman: You will feel super powerful after performing 2 sets of this exercise. Cape optional.
Triceps Dip: Find a bench or stairs on one of your runs and work those arms!
Plank Walks: Great total body exercise. Keep those abs tight and shoulder blades flat on the back and your legs engaged.
Plank and Side Plank: Another one of our favorites. Try this as a series: 30 second forearm plank, 30 second left side plank, 30 second forearm plank to 30 second right side plank. Don't sink those hips and make sure your shoulders are over your elbows.
Russian Twist: Strengthens the obliques which are essential to maintaining proper running form. The slower the twist, the deeper the burn.
Bridge Lift: This is a great exercise for your abs and your glutes. Hold for 10-15 seconds on your last rep and really engage your obliques closest to your hip bones.
Let’s face it, most of us runners think we are in great shape and fit because we run long distances or so many hours a week. While that’s true, running is the same motion over and over and over again. Thus, your muscles and joints learn to behave in a very specific way. In order to become a faster and stronger runner, incorporate cross training and strength exercises into your weekly running plans.
One of our favorite ways to incorporate strength into our weekly workouts is to do the exercises during a run. We do this on an easy run day and not on a day before or after our speed/tempo/hill or long run.
Here’s our workout: Run 1 mile, dynamic warmup series, run ½ mile, legs, run ½ mile, abs, run ½ mile, upper body, finish up with 1 mile cool down.
Here are the top 5 exercises we recommend for every runner. Do 2-3 sets of each exercise at least 2x a week. You will become stronger and you will feel faster. We've included a link to our video. The description is within our YouTube video.
1. Plank - Builds abdominal and lower back strength to support and stabilize your upper body while running improving form, performance and reducing risk of injury.
- Begin lying face down, resting on your forearms.
- Push off the floor, raising up on to toes and forearms so your body is parallel to the floor, making a straight line from your head to your heels
- Focus on pulling your abdominal in and keeping your shoulders over your elbows.
- Look slightly forward to avoid straining the neck.
- Hold for 30-60 seconds.
2. Side Plank - Strengthes the oblique muscles and increase hip strength and stability which are important in preventing injury.
- Begin by lying on your right side with your right forearm on the ground, shoulder over your elbow and left leg stacked on top of right.
- Exhale and push your hips off the floor. Keep pushing left hip up towards the sky.
- Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side
3. Pushups - Strengthens the shoulders, arms and core improving your upper body strength which will improve your running economy, help maintain proper form as your lower body begins to fatigue, and are essential for hilly terrain in order to drive your legs uphill.
- Get into a plank position and place your hands slightly wider than shoulder width. Feet can be together or wider apart (easier).
- Contract your abs by pulling your belly button toward your spine. Keep your core tight throughout the movement.
- Inhale as you slowly bend your elbows and lower yourself until your elbows are at a 90 degree angle. Exhale as you push back up to the start position. Don't lock the elbows; keep them slightly bent.
- Repeat 25 times (full or modified or a combination).
3. Squats - Strengthen your hamstrings, quadriceps, gluteals, calves and hip flexors. These are great for runners because they work the entire lower body and improve muscle balance.
- Stand with your knees shoulder width apart and toes angled out, arms by your sides.
- Squat down bringing thighs parallel to the floor. Keep your weight in your heels, chest up, back flat and knees behind your toes. Squeeze your butt as you come back up.
- For weak knees, only perform a partial squat.
- Repeat 25 times.
4. Bridge Lift - Works your glutes, which is necessary for efficient leg turnover.
- Lie flat on your back with your hands by your side, knees bent and feet hips width apart.
- Fire your glutes by driving your heels into the ground to raise your hips. Your hips should create a straight line from the knee through the hip and shoulder.
- At the top point, draw in the abdominals and hold for 2 seconds.
- Lower back down and repeat.
- You should feel this in your glutes and hamstrings, not your back.
- Repeat 25 times.
5. Single Leg Deadlift - Strengthens the hips, engages the hamstrings and gets the glutes firing. These are all needed for stabilizing the body while running. Balancing on one leg simulates the one legged activity of running, works your balance and core muscles.
- Standing up with a slight bend in the right knee, raise the left leg slightly off the ground.
- Hinge forward at the waist and lift the left leg straight behind you until your chest is parallel to the floor. Engage your hamstring and glute of the right leg planted on the ground and come back to standing. Repeat for 10-15 times and switch legs.
- Advanced Option: As you hinge back to standing draw the right knee up until your knee is parallel with your hips. Hold for 3 seconds and return to hinged forward position with your leg behind you. Repeat for 10-15 times.