One of the biggest challenges facing new runners is maintaining motivation. Running is a high impact sport, which can lead to injuries if you aren’t careful. It isn’t rare for new runners to simply give up on their new sport if they sustain an injury. If you want to keep up your motivation and avoid getting injured, you need to combine cardio with strength training. This will allow you to isolate specific muscle groups that you need to be a good runner.
The good news is that you don’t need any fancy equipment to be able to build your strength. You can use your own body weight and gravity to help you get an effective all-over body workout that will strengthen your muscles and help to prevent injury. Read on to discover 6 exercises that all beginner runners should work into their routine.
1. Backward Lunge
A forward lunge can put a strain on your knees which new runners might struggle with. By stepping back into your lunge instead of forward, you can focus on strengthening the muscles in your legs and maintaining an upright posture. When doing forward lunges, many people lean too far forward and upset the balance of this stretch.
Focus on keeping your upper body upright and make slow controlled movements. If you want to make it harder, when you are coming back up to a standing position, jump in the air and land with your feet together. This will help you to develop explosive power and speed.
If you work in a desk job or spend a lot of time behind the wheel of a car, you are probably guilty of having lazy glutes. Our sedentary lifestyles cause these muscles to deactivate and leave the surrounding muscles to pick up the slack. This can cause injuries if new runner launch right into an intensive training schedule without giving their muscles time to catch up. Engage and train your leg muscles to work together with a simple squat.
Start with your feet hip-width apart and your hands together at your chest. Drop down into a low squat until your thighs are parallel with the ground. Keep your upper body upright and your hands together at the chest. Repeat for 3 sets of 10 reps. To make it harder, jump in the air from the lowest position to help develop speed.
Most runners focus on their legs and neglect the rest of their bodies. Planks are a great exercise for engaging your core and ensuring that your body is working in harmony. Lay on the floor and lift yourself up onto your forearms and toes, so your body is in a perfectly straight line from heel to head. Hold this position for as long as you can. Do this every day and try to increase your time every day. To make it harder, roll onto one side and reach into the air with your arm, all the while keeping your body straight. Alternate sides for 10 reps.
4. Calf raises
For this one, you will need to find a step with a handle. The bottom of your stairs should be fine. Stand with your toes on the step and the back of your foot hanging off the back. Steady yourself using the stair rail. Lower yourself down, stretching your calf muscles as you go. Once at the bottom, push yourself back up onto your tip toes. Repeat for 3 sets of 10 reps. To make this harder, try balancing on one foot. Be careful when doing this exercise that you don’t lose your balance and stop if you feel any pain.
5. Mountain climbers
This is a great full body exercise that will raise your heart rate and build muscle tone. It will also help to increase flexibility. Start face down on the floor and lift yourself into a high plank so that your hands are above your shoulders. Alternative bringing your knees up to your chest, engaging your core as you maintain stability. As you get more confident in the movement you can increase your pace into a running movement.
6. Speed skaters
As we get older, our coordination gets less precise. Speed skaters help to increase coordination, which can in turn help to prevent injuries. Speed skaters will teach you to stay light on your feet and be adaptive to the running terrain. Start with a wide stance and then jump to the left, dropping your right leg behind your left leg and dipping down. Return to the centre and then reverse it to the right. The move is supposed to look like a speed skater, shifting weight from one leg to the other. These will help to increase flexibility and strength in your legs while also helping you to stay light on your feet while running.