Strength exercises for improving running

As discussed in my post last week, I’ve given myself a six-week challenge for improving my running. My aim is to run faster than I currently do.
 
I’m one week into it and so far so good. I committed to doing two strength sessions each week, along with either a run or hill sprints. Last week I also managed to include a swim into the mix.
 
The strength of an individual is important for running as well as running technique. Below are the exercises I have been doing. I’ve included a summary of each exercise. However, it’s always best if you’re going to try them yourself to get a trained professional to check your technique. Incorrect technique can cause all sorts of problems…

Six exercises for improving running:

Squats – 30 repetitions

 
Improving running

 

Improving running

Explanation:

  • Feet hip width apart
  • Feet facing forwards
  • Toes relaxed throughout the whole of the exercise (toes can claw or dig into the ground at times, typically without the person knowing so keep your eye out for this one)
  • Knees stay in alignment with toes (no knock knees)
  • Hips stay level throughout

 

Split squats (that’s what I call it) or also known as the Bulgarian squat – 30 repetitions on both legs

 
Improving running

Explanation:

  • Back leg resting on a raised surface
  • Front foot facing forwards
  • Toes relaxed
  • As you lower, the front knee stays over the foot

 

Hip raises – 30 repetitions

 
Improving running

 

Explanation:
  • Lying on a flat surface with no pillow/towel support (as this can increase the stress felt on the neck)
  • Feet hip width apart
  • Lift hips up to the ceiling and then return to the start position
  • Knees stay steady throughout (imagine you’ve got a drink resting on the knees which you don’t want to spill)

 

Single leg bridge – 30 repetitions on both legs

 
Improving running

Explanation:

  • As with the hip raises but using just one leg

 

Side plank with clam – 30 repetitions on both  legs

 
Improving running
Side plank position

 

Improving running
Side plank if also performing the clam

 

Improving running
The clam (without side-plank)

Explanation:

  • Lay on the ground with your body in a straight line, knees bent and feet in-line with the body
  • Leaning on your elbow, lift your body up so you’re resting on the lower half of your leg and your elbow
  • Keeping the feet together, raise your top knee up and then return to the start position (opening up like a clam)
  • Throughout the clam movement, keep your hips still
  • Throughout the exercise keep your chin tucked in

 

Crab walking with a theraband – 4m for one repetition, 10 repetitions in total

Improving running
Theraband around knees (easier)
Improving running
Theraband around ankles (harder)

 

Explanation:

  • Keeping feet and knees together, tie the theraband around your legs either just above the knee or down around the ankles
  • Move your legs so that they’re hip width apart
  • Bend your knees and keep them bent throughout the whole exercise
  • Keep your knees over your toes at all times
  • Sidestep to the right and left – keeping the knees bent and knees over the toes
 
 
Images courtesy of E.Arshamian, owner/director of Fortitude Physiotherapy