While you might think that runners just need to stick to running in order to get faster and fitter, this is not the case! Incorporating a variety of other workouts targeting strength and flexibility will build strong, powerful, supple muscles to help you run longer distances, power up hills and increase speed. This will make you a stronger, speedier and more efficient runner.
More importantly, incorporating a few weight training and stretching sessions into your routine will improve your balance and strength, helping you to maintain correct posture and form throughout your runs. This will reduce your risk of developing common running injuries such as shin splints, runner’s knee, IT band syndrome, tendinitis, hamstring tears and more.
Incorporating regular leg training into your routine will improve your running economy (how efficiently your body uses oxygen), helping you to achieve greater speed and more muscle endurance. It will also help to strengthen key muscles and prevent injury.
One of the key areas to work on is your hip and glute muscles – these are critical for preventing injuries. This is because they control your stride and provide stability and many running injuries (even those not directly associated with the hip area like runner’s knee) are linked to weak hips.
When you run, your core muscles (chest, back, abs, and obliques) work to stabilise your spine and torso, helping to ‘drive’ your run. A strong core will help to keep your torso upright when you run, allowing the pelvis, hips, and lower back to work together more smoothly and use less energy.
Additionally, at the end of a run when you’re tired, your form slips, opening you up to injuries as well as slowing you down – building up core strength will help you maintain good posture and reduce your chances of injury.
Good flexibility helps runners maintain a sense of balance within the body. Since muscles work in pairs, an inflexible muscle could result in imbalances and cause injury.
Flexible muscles will not only help reduce your chances of injury but will also help you achieve a greater range of motion and improve performance. If you can drive your knees higher, maintain dorsiflexion for a while longer, and keep elasticity in the hips throughout a run, your chances of running better than an inflexible athlete are much higher.
Visit your local David Lloyd Club to train and improve your running.