Now that spring is here I’m sure the runners amongst you are already pounding the streets or climbing the hills in preparation for a race or just enjoying the great outdoors in this beautiful county as a way of getting fit. My wife is running the London marathon and after the long winter nights is loving the longer evenings to finish her training schedule.
As a personal trainer for over 20 years I have trained lots of runners, from those who run as part of their fitness regime through to those who want to compete in races. A regular line of questioning I receive is, “Should I do weights? Will it make any difference? If so, what should I do and how often?”
My resounding answer every time is yes! And as much as you can. My wife asked the same question last year, and has since incorporated strength and conditioning work. All through the winter she has complemented her running training plan with a series of specific exercises to strengthen her legs, in particular, her calves which had been previously an issue. Now she finds that her resistance to injury and also the time in which she recovers have benefited greatly .
All runners need to incorporate strength and conditioning alongside stability and mobility exercises into their weekly running schedule.
Make strides with a little-but-often approach
As a Biomechanics coach one of the first things I do when assessing a runner is to screen for imbalances that occur from the repetitive motion of running and other weaknesses. I prescribe exercises to help correct those imbalances.
Activities that lead to today’s sedentary lifestyles such as driving, sitting at desks for the majority of the day or watching television can lead to general muscle weakness, hip flexor tightness, weak glutes and poor core strength. And, it all affects our ability to perform at our best.
By incorporating a little-but-often approach to strength and conditioning, we can make noticeable differences to our running efficiency. One of the first things I explain to clients is that the force generated through the foot when it strikes the ground is approximately 3 times your bodyweight, so for me that would be 300kg every stride. That is why we should look to make the legs as strong as we can to withstand what is essentially jumping from one leg to the other over a period of time. This would not only give them more strength to cope with fatigue but also make you more resistant to niggles which can in turn lead to more serious injuries.
I would recommend putting an all-round training plan in place that includes working on ankle/knee/hip mobility and glute/core/leg strength. As to how many times a week? I would suggest 4 times a week if possible for around 20 minutes.
To improve your running and to find out more about strengthening and conditioning Andy Hackney can be reached on 07969 833879 or www.pulse1-2-1personaltraining.co.uk