Practice These Three Simple Exercises To Become a Better Runner
If you’ve recently started running you will have found that the more you run, the easier it becomes. Practice makes perfect, as the saying goes, but as with any form of exercise if you want to perform at your best you need to work on your strength too.

Adding some simple strength training exercises into your daily routine will make you a better and safer runner. Strengthening your muscles will protect you from common injuries by correcting muscle imbalances, improving muscle activation, increasing your balance, and conditioning your calves.

We’ve included three simple exercises that are targeted at runners who are new to strength training. Combining the below exercises will target your quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves - the core muscles working hard while you’re running. These are the muscles most likely to be affected by a running-related injury, such as shin splints, calf strains or Achilles tendinopathy (to name just a few). These exercises can all be done at home:

Split Squat (sometimes called a static lunge)

How do I do the exercise?
Step one leg out in front of you, and the other out behind you. Make sure that you are drawing your belly button inwards and squeezing your glutes, as you lower your body in one plane of movement straight down from the hips. As you lower yourself both knees will be bending, with the knee behind you touching the floor as you reach the lower part of the exercise. The knee in front of you should be pointing forward, over the second toe. You’ll then push through your heels to rise up again, before repeating the exercise. If your balance and stability are weak, it is okay to hold onto a wall or a chair as you complete the exercise.

How many reps should I do?
We recommend beginning with 15 reps on each leg, as you become stronger you can add more repetitions. If you’re already practicing strength training, but are just looking at enhancing your running techniques, you can add some weights, such as dumbbells, into this exercise to add external resistance.

How will this exercise benefit my running?
A split squat will strengthen your quads, glutes and calves - the core muscles used during a run.

Runner’s Arabesque

How do I do the exercise?
This exercise, more than the others, will test your balance and stability. Start standing on one leg, with your hip flexed on the lifted side and glutes squeezed on the standing side. From there you will be bringing the lifted leg straight back behind you, while simultaneously lowering your torso and reaching forward with your arms. The aim is to become parallel, a straight line from the fingertips to the toes. Then release and come back up, driving your knee up before repeating the movement. Make sure that you complete this with slow and controlled movement, do not rush - simply focus on perfecting the balance. The form is paramount, and practice makes perfect.

How many reps should I do?
Again we recommend doing 15 reps on each leg. However, if that feels completely unattainable then break it down. Start with 5 sets of each leg, have a break, then do 5 more and repeat.

How will this exercise benefit my running?
Practicing a runner’s arabesque will develop your single leg balance and stability, crucial skills to harness as runners repetitively land on one leg at a time.

Jump Rope (or skipping rope)

How do I do the exercise?
For this exercise, you will need, of course, a jump rope. But we think they’re a worthwhile (and cheap) investment. Feet together, knees together, and keep everything rigid except your ankles - which will be providing all of the bounce. Engage your core, and jump!

How many reps should I do?
Little and often is a great goal for jump rope, we suggest 5 sets of 20 seconds, repeated 4 or 5 times per week.

How will this exercise benefit my running?
This will work on calf conditioning and ankle stiffness in order to prevent common running injuries such as shin splints, calf sprains, plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinopathy.

If you’re new to strength training, start with fewer reps and increase as your strength improves. Remember to stay hydrated, take rest when your body is telling you that you need it and eat the right fuel for your exercise routine - check out our previous blogs for tips of what to eat and when.

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