Strengthening Your Running Game.

Strengthening Your Running Game.

There are so many aspects to fitness these days which is what I love about the fitness industry at the moment, there is a style of training to suit everyone and people seem to be more inclined to try something new. When I first started to workout and use a gym I cruised along comfortably combining some basic weight training with some functional exercise, I then delved into surf fitness which introduced me into the world of mobility and yoga and it wasn’t for a couple of years until I fell in love with weight training.Weight training completely changed my gym game and this is when I started to really see aesthetic results, which at the time is what I wanted. It made me feel strong, challenged and confident and I really enjoyed setting my self targets and PB’s with lifting. Now, in my second year as a Personal Trainer I create fitness programmes filled with my knowledge in all the different aspects of training that I’ve experienced, enjoyed and benefited from but yet I still find that I’m constantly learning which is why I love my job so much! I’ve developed a professional ethos which has been created from my experiences working within and also being a part of the fitness industry and that is based around your mindset. We should be training for our health as much as we are for any aesthetic related goals and with the rise of fitness classes that combine more than one training style, like CrossFit for example it’s becoming increasingly more popular to try something new.

I’ve recently signed up for The Royal Parks Half Marathon, my first long distance run! I’ve dabbled in the running world with 10km races and I sprinted 100m competitively as a teenager but I’d never signed myself up to a long distance race, mainly for the reason that I couldn’t fathom the mental determination and focus you need to run for hours on end! But, now I feel the time is right for me to train for something new and challenge my mind and my body to something completely out of my comfort zone.

Injury prevention is key when you’re training for a long distance run and this can be added into your training with various workouts and recovery sessions. Training for your run should be as much fun as the event itself, these 5 strategies that I’ve listed below should be incorporated into your training to help look after your body throughout your training and are essential to make sure that you’re on top of your game.

Warming up and cooling down.

Seems like an obvious one I know but it’s also the most neglected aspect of people’s workouts. The aim of warm up the body is to increase the heart rate before you keep it raised during your session, it also allows your body to prepare itself before your workout. This can be done easily before a run by using a foam roller to warm up your muscles or by having a good 10 minute stretching session before and after – focusing especially on your hamstrings, glutes, ankles and hips. Resistance bands are also a great way to wake up and activate your glutes – your gluteus maximus is the largest muscle your body has so it’s really important to warm up properly, they’re also the main extensor of your hips so it’s good to work on strengthening them too.

Weight Training.

A really important aspect of your training! Strengthening the muscles that are used to support you throughout your runs is what is going to help keep you from injury and it will also help you to increase your performance. The main muscles you want to focus on strengthening for your runs are;

  • Glutes (gluteus maximus or in simple form – your butt cheeks.) – These help to support your pelvis, your trunk and the rest of your legs so they need caring for!
  • Your hamstrings – these help support your knees.
  • Quads (Quadriceps) – The most crucial muscle for walking let alone running! They are what keep your legs moving forward and backward and also support your knees.
  • Lower back – training any part of your back is important but your lower back is what is going to help support your core, posture and your glutes whilst running.
  • Core muscles – not necessarily just your abdominal’s, your core is your center strength that holds everything up and together and will help to prevent injuries all over the body.

These may all seem complicated and like it’s going to be a lot of training but it really doesn’t have to be. The more simple you keep it the better, the last thing you want to be doing is spending hours in the gym trying to squat as much weight as you can because you’ll regret that when you go out for a run a few days later – trust me. Keep the weights you use at a comfortable amount and complete 10-12 reps steadily.

You can also combine exercises to target two muscle groups in one, for example deadlifts are a great way to work more or less every single muscle group that I have listed above. You can combine core and hamstring exercises using equipment like a TRX if you access to one or if you want to keep it really simple and easy, grab some resistance bands (I got mine on Amazon) and do a home workout.

YouTube have some great videos and workouts that you can follow, or ask one of the instructors at your gym to help you out with some exercises and make sure that you’re doing it right, that’s what they’re employed to do!

Active Recovery.

As you start to increase your distance that you’re running and you have a comfortable weight training programme that you manage regularly, you can start to set aside one day a week that you let your body recover from the hard work and give it a reward of an easier workout. Going for a walk or a light and short run can help your body recover and replenish but still be active, I personally like to try and do a Park Run once a week to keep focusing on my pace and not have to worry about the distance. Yoga is also a great way to stay active and increase your strength whilst relaxing your mind – it’s a win win! Plus your body will definitely benefit from the flexibility and mobility work too.

Nourishment & Hydration.

A lack of nutrients and water can have a huge affect on your training and could even stop you from progressing. With all this training comes sweat, make sure you stay hydrated to help replenish the fluids you are going to lose. There are other benefits too, your body’s organs will function better and your muscles with recover quicker, it’ll keep you mind sharp too.

Maintaining a balanced diet is key too, carbohydrates are what is going to keep you going by releasing energy slowly so make sure you have a high carb meal the day before you plan on going for a long run. Protein is also essential to make sure you muscles repair after a weight session or a run, protein shakes and smoothies are really useful but try to also include natural protein in your diet too.

Rest Days.

Rest days are just as important as the workout days, without them our bodies can’t improve and replenish themselves. They don’t have to be on a set day a week, listen to your body and how it responds, maybe you need a rest day after you’ve had a weight training workout, or maybe you’re stamina is better on a longer run after you’ve had a good nights rest. If you’re someone that struggles to sit still and not do any exercises then book onto a yoga class or follow a mobility video on YouTube (focusing on the hips if you can!) to keep you moving.

Any questions and further help?

I hope this helps you if you are training for a run, especially if you’re starting from the beginning. There are plenty of resources out there on the net to help you understand your training more and I’ll be sharing more about my experiences and how my training is going. I’m also considering maybe setting up my own small YouTube corner to help out with posts like these and creating videos with relevant workouts, sometimes it’s easier to demonstrate it rather than write about it so please let me know if that’s something you’d be interested in and I’ll find some time to do some recordings (and also cringe at the sound of my own voice!)

Please also share this with anyone you might think will benefit from this information, if you have any questions then please send me a message on my social media and I’ll get back to you when I can.

Remember that I actually work as Personal Trainer too so if you feel that you might need a little bit more help to get focused then you can also get in touch for more information! Use my contact page to reach out 🙂

Are you preparing for a race or pushing yourself out of your training comfort zone? I’d love to know how it’s all going, share your experiences over on my Instagram page – you never know what other people can take away from it.

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