If you want to run faster, you would think you simply need to practice running more. If you want to be able to run for longer, you would think you just need to push yourself to run further.
But gaining speed and endurance requires that you do more than just run. Staying healthy for your race requires that your training regime isn’t just running.
You must do the proper recovery and strength training as well.
Many people worry that strength training will interfere with their running.
But in reality, a proper strength training regime will actually make their running stronger and keep their body healthy for their training.
No you don’t want to work on your 1 rep max while training for a race, but you do want to lift weights.
And you want to stretch and foam roll.
But you definitely want to lift weights and make your muscles stronger so you can run faster and last longer!
Below are key muscles for runners to roll out and stretch. There are also some great activation moves and then finally, links to workouts I’ve developed for runners.
You can help prevent (or at least alleviate some of the pain of) common running injuries such as plantar fasciitis, shin splints, knee pain, hip pain and even low back pain by using the techniques and exercises below.
TRIGGER POINT RELEASE
1. Feet – Take a ball, the smaller and harder the ball, the more it will dig in, and place it on the ground. Then, standing, place your foot on top of the ball. Push down into the ball and roll it around under your foot, holding on any tight spots.
2. Shins – Sit on the ground with one knee bent toward the ceiling and the foot flat on the ground. Take a ball in both hands, and press it into the outside of the shin bone. Push the ball into your shin with both hands, making small circles. Then move the ball up or done and repeat, making small circles. Work all the way from your ankle to right below your knee. Hit the front of your shin, not the bone, all the way around the outside and back toward your calf. Make small circles with the ball, pressing it in as hard as you can.
3. Calves – Sit on the ground with one leg out straight. Take a roller or a ball on a book or block and place it under the calf of the leg out straight. Cross the other leg over the top. Rock the leg on the ball side to side. Then move the ball up or down your calf. Again rock the leg side to side. You can also flex and relax your foot or make small circles with your ankle to dig in deeper to any tight spots you find. Work all the way up and down the back of your lower leg.
4. Quads – Take a roller and set up with your with it under the front of your legs. You will be lying face down on the ground with your body supported on your forearms and your legs on the roller. Rock side to side on the roller then move it down or up on your quad and again rock side to side. Work all the way from your hips to the top of your knees. Around the top of your knees and right around your hips, you can also use a ball to dig out the muscles. Around your knees, start the ball on the inside of your leg right above your knee. Work your way across the top of your knee to the outside of your leg. Hold on any tight spots. You can do the same all along your groin and hip.
5. Hamstrings – A tennis ball is a great option to really dig out your hamstring, especially the top of your hamstrings right under your butt and the bottom right above your knee. To use a ball, sit on a chair or box. Place the ball under your leg on the box or chair. Roll it side to side and up and down. Hold on any tight spots. Use a box that allows you to really sit all of your weight down onto the ball. You can also do this on a roller on the ground but you won’t be able to dig in as much.
6. Adductors – You can roll out the inside of your leg using a ball or roller. Lie face down with one knee bent out to the side. Place a roller or ball under that leg right above your knee. Rock the leg forward and backward a bit then roll the roller up toward your crotch. Hold on any tight spots as you roll from your knee up toward your groin. Rock toward the front and back of your leg as you move up and down.
7. IT Band – Set up on your side with the roller just under the outside of your hip. You can stack your legs to apply more pressure or bend the top leg in front of you and use it to push off. Rock forward and backward as you move the roller down the outside of your leg. You can work from your hip down to just outside your knee. You can rock slightly forward to work into the front of your leg a bit especially around your hip. This way you can also hit your TFL.
8. Hips/Glutes – Use a ball to roll out your hips and glutes. The smaller and harder the ball, the more you will be able to dig in. Place the ball under one butt cheek. Roll it around your butt from the bottom near your hamstring up to your low back. While you roll under the fleshy part of your butt, you can also lift and lower your leg as well as draw the knee in toward your chest and straighten the leg back out. By moving the leg, you will dig in more with the ball. You can also roll the ball under your hip and around to the front to dig in to your TFL and hip flexors.
1. Feet, Calves – Bear Squat with Foot Stretch – To do this move, start on your hands and knees as if you were about to crawl. Then drive up off your knees onto your toes and hands. Drive your heels as close to the ground as possible and then return back to kneeling. Then lift your hands and sit back onto your heels. Make sure your feet are flexed when you sit back so you feel a nice stretch down the bottom of your feet into your toes. Then place your hands back down on the ground and repeat the stretch, driving your butt up into the air and heels down into the ground.
2. Shins – Standing 3 Way Shin Stretch – Stand facing the wall with one foot forward and the other leg back. Point your toe and rock onto the top of your foot so that the top of your back foot is facing the ground and you are on the front of your toes. Then bend the back knee and rock forward, feeling a nice stretch up the front of your lower leg. Keep the back toe pointing straight back for 10 reps then point it in and then out for 10 more reps in each spot. Do not worry about the front leg during all of this. Focus on stretching the shin of the back leg.
3. Hips, Hamstrings, Back – World’s Greatest Stretch with Hamstring – Start in a high plank position with your hands under your shoulders and feet together. Your body should start in a nice straight line. Step your right foot outside your right hand. Try to get it right outside your hand with the foot flat on the ground. Drop the right elbow down into the instep of your right foot, keeping the foot down. Then rotate open facing your right leg, stretching your right arm up toward the ceiling. Bring the right hand back down to the ground. Sit back on your left heel and straighten your right leg out in front of you. Feel a stretch down your hamstring.You can even hinge over the right leg a bit. Then bend the right leg and move back into the plank position with the foot outside the hand. Again drop the elbow and repeat the move on your right side. Complete all reps and then switch and do the stretch on the other side.
4. Hips/Quads – Kneeling Dynamic Quad Stretch – Set up kneeling on one knee facing a wall or something else you can place your hands on for balance. Make sure your front knee is a few inches away from the wall so you can rock forward. Grab your back foot with the hand on the same side. Pull your heel in toward your butt. Then rock forward, feeling a greater stretch down the front of your back leg. Relax back and repeat.
5. IT Band/Hamstrings – Standing IT Band Stretch – Standing tall, cross one foot over in front of the other. PUsh the front foot back enough though that the toes of both feet are even and your back leg is pushed straight. Clasp your hands together and reach up toward the ceiling. Stretch up nice and tall. Then reach your hands down toward the instep of the foot in back. Press your hip out to the side as you reach and keep your legs straight. Then reach back up and uncross your feet. Cross the other foot over and repeat. Keep alternating sides until all reps are complete.
6. Hips/Adductors – Frog Stretch with Rotation – Kneel on the ground and spread your knees as wide as possible. Lower yourself down to your forearms. Keep your feet in line with your lower leg and knees. Do not let your feet come together behind your butt and let them relax so the insides of your feet are flat against the ground. Sit your butt back between your knees as much as possible. Then come forward out of the stretch. As you come back forward, lower your body down to the ground and rotate your lower leg up and forward. Sit back again and then pivot the other hip. Keep alternating sides until all reps are complete.
1. Fire Hydrants – Set up on your hands and knees with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Flex your feet. Keeping your right knee bent to 90 and your foot flexed as you lift the leg out to the side. Squeeze your butt as you lift. Do not bend your arms or lean to the side as you lift. Hold for a second or two at the top and then lower down and repeat.
2. Posterior Plank – Start seated on the ground with your legs out straight and your hands on the ground behind your butt. Your finger tips should be pointing toward your butt. Drive through your hands and heels and raise your hips up off the ground toward the ceiling. Keep your legs straight as you lift. Press your chest up and out as you raise your hips. Relax your head back. Your body should be in a nice straight line at the top. Beginners may need to bend their legs a bit to hold the bridge at the top. Advanced exercisers can do a one leg bridge. Hold at the top for a second or two and then lower down and repeat.
3. Hip Circles – Set up on your hands and knees with your knees under your hips and your hands under your shoulders. Flex your foot and keeping the knee bent, drive it straight back and up. Drive the heel toward the ceiling. Keep your core tight and squeeze your glutes. Do not hyperextend your low back. Hold for a second or two and then bring the leg out to the side as if doing the fire hydrant. Do not set the leg down in between. Hold for a second or two and then drive the knee forward into your elbow. Squeeze your core as you drive the knee forward. Keep the foot off the ground. Then set the knee back down and repeat.
4. Glute Bridge – Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Your heels should be about hip-width apart and close enough to your butt that you can reach them with your finger tips when your arms are straight down by your side. Bend your elbows to 90 degrees so that your upper arm is on the ground. Then drive up through your heels, arms and upper back. Squeeze your glutes and lift your hips up as high as you can. Keep your core tight so that you don’t feel this in your low back. Make sure you don’t drive off your heels backward. Also, don’t let your knees fall open. Keep them in line with your hips and ankles. Hold at the top or complete reps by lowering back down and then repeating.
Actually, any glute activation moves you do, would be super beneficial. Here is a list of 10 glute activation moves you can do with a mini band. If your knees cave in when you run, you may want to focus on your external rotators as well (clams, side shuffle, standing external rotation, abductors..)
1. Runner’s Recovery Workout – Great bodyweight isometric workout you can do anywhere.
2. Stronger Legs With Knee Pain – A great workout to develop great leg strength for running while being super easy on the knees. The workout will also help you prevent the development of knee pain while upping your mileage to train for your race.
3. The Elite Library – In this library, I’ve also written a great warm up for before your run, a sprint workout to work on speed and core strength and a workout to develop leg strength to help you run further without fatigue.
And if you are preparing for a race this year and want some help organizing your running and strength training, you could win a month of FREE online training here!