Want To Run Better and Longer? Condition and Strengthen

Gareth Kelly

Strength and Conditioning, Gymnastics

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We are built to move. Our brains evolved to process information, integrate that information, and produce the appropriate movement. Two of the most familiar movement patterns that your brain recognizes are:

 

  1. Walking
  2. Running

 

 

The body has been shaped by the brain to move, run, jump, and explore. But, as natural as all of these movement patterns might be, you can still do them wrong. Nothing is so easy that you can't mess it up. Look at milky cups of tea.

 

Running Prep

Most people get ready for running by, you guessed it, running. But would you get prepared for a max deadlift attempt by making a max deadlift attempt? No, of course, you wouldn't.

 

I don't need to prepare the body for walking, so why is running any different I hear you cry. Well, I'll tell you why. When you run, the same as in walking, you are spending 50% of the time on one leg.

 

This standing on one leg takes balance, stability, and a certain amount of strength. However, unlike walking, the forces that your body experiences compound during running.

 

When you run, up to three times, your bodyweight can be hurtling up through your foot and dissipating through your lower body each time you strike the ground.

 

Now, I'm no genius, but that amount of force repeatedly is going to cause some problems if you aren't running correctly or maintaining your condition.

 

Most people do not consider basic running a tough exercise, but my God, it is. Without necessary stability, strength, and a functional movement pattern running will get you injured. It will just take a while.

 

The Best Exercises for Running Condition

I am going to list a few exercises to do before you go out running to help you move better and, more importantly, help get everything working as it should so you can run better for longer.

 

Strengthening the Runner's Feet

The feet are one of the essential parts of the body when it comes to movement and pain. They have a vast amount of bones, tendons, and muscles, all working in unison. So, when something goes wrong, it hurts a lot.

 

 

Feet are built to be in contact with the ground. They feed our brains loads of information about the world we are moving in, and they are intended to move. But what do we do?

 

We shove them into restrictive shoes that don't allow them to do their job. It's surprising how many people have lost the ability to control their feet. Their feet do not even function as feet at all.

 

Try this little exercise to start strengthening your feet and building the control you might have lost.

 

 

Now that we have mentioned probably the most important thing for happy running, strong feet, let's cover something that's the bane for most runners.

 

Training Against Shin Splints and Knee Pain

These bad boys can stop people running for good just because they are so damn painful and debilitating. The good news is that you can get rid of them and for good.

 

With a bit of dedication, you can strengthen the tibialis muscle that runs down the front of your shin. It's not a muscle that people often think about, but it helps pull the foot up when you step forward in the run. The same as the calf helps it extend.

 

Now people train calves all the time, but folks rep out exercises for the tibialis. When this muscle is weak but gets asked to pull the foot forward repeatedly while receiving the massive hits from pounding the pavement, something is going to give and that, my friends, are when shin splints develop.

 

You can help strengthen the tibialis with this simple little exercise below. Combine these with the 45-degree squat also in this video to make sure your knees are robust enough to handle all the miles you plan to get under your belt.

 

 

Opening Up Hips with Lunge Exercises

Now they don't take the same amount of punishment as the feet, shins, and knees, but they do have quite a small range of movement when running.

 

If you don't work at keeping a healthy range of movement in the hips, then you are going to lose the range you do have, and the muscles around the joint won't activate fully, and that will lead to pain.

 

One of the best exercises for opening the hip and taking it through its full range of motion is the long lunge with a hip drop from the Mobility Reset Program.

 

 

Stability and Strength with Single-Leg Rotation Exercises

Now that we've covered the range in the hips, we need to mention stability and strength because you need these just as much as a range to keep you moving pain-free.

 

Try this single-leg hip rotation, and it should highlight any control issues you have in the hips.

 

 

I have given you five excellent running exercises that should be done as a warm-up before you run and also as a cool down after your run. Just to help keep everything friendly and happy.

 

These will get you started, but the Vestibular and Mobility Reset Programs will identify and eliminate your balance and mobility restrictions.

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