For most of us, our 24 hours are filled with many priorities – being a spouse, a parent, an employee, a volunteer – and finding time to just fit in a run may be a challenge. We tend to skip pieces and parts of training which are complementary to running – warming and cooling down properly, stretching, rolling, and strengthening – because we just don’t have the time.
If you have just a few extra minutes to squeeze in strengthening exercises, here is what I’d recommend:
1. Squats/Single Leg Squats/Split Squats – Beginner? Stick to the basic squat until you can execute the movement. When you are confident, move to single leg exercises which will also help improve your balance. We’ve discussed how running is essentially a series of one-legged hops, so these unilateral exercises help balance the strength in your lower body. Having trouble with split squats? Use TRX suspension if available. Try 2 sets of 12-15 repetitions on each leg.
Stand with feet slightly wider than hip-width, toes forward. Keep your chest lifted and maintain a neutral spine. Engage the abs and glutes, sit back and down as though sitting onto a chair. Press through heels, squeeze glutes and return to standing.
Single Leg Squat:
From a standing position, extend arms outward so they’re parallel to the ground. Extend one leg out in front of you. Slowly squat down on your standing leg while keeping your other leg extended in front of you. Squat as low as you are comfortable and return back to the starting position.
Standing in a lunge position, rest the toes of the back foot on a one- to two-foot bench or box. Lower the torso straight down by bending the front knee, making sure it stays behind toes. When the forward thigh is parallel to the ground hold for one to two seconds and then return back to the starting position.
SINGLE LEG SQUAT
SPLIT LEG SQUAT
2. Side Lunges – Targets the hips, quads, calves, hamstrings and glutes. Be sure to keep the abs tight and chest up. When returning to the starting position, push strongly off your foot. Do 2 sets of 12-15 repetitions on each side.
Step a couple feet out to the side with one foot while sending the hips backwards, keeping the abs engaged and chest up. At the bottom of the lunge ensure the knee stays back over the ankle without lunging forward and the standing leg remains straight. When coming back to standing, engage the glute to power off the ground.
3. Push Ups – A great upper body exercises which works the chest, back, biceps, triceps and back. The push up helps runners maintain a good posture. Be sure to keep your core engage and body in alignment. Yes, you can modify on your knees if needed. Do 2 sets of 12-15 repetitions.
Place hands under shoulders. Keep shoulders back and stable. Body should be in a straight line from head through the shoulders, hips and knees with core engaged. Slowly lower chest to ground before returning to the starting position in one movement.
4. Planks – Adore your core! Having a strong midsection can help improve your stride, form and speed.
Assume beginning position of a push up, with elbows under shoulders. Engage the core to lift your body and maintain a straight line from shoulders to toes. Squeeze the glutes to stabilize the body.
Hold for 30-60 seconds; rest and repeat.
5. Side Plank – Brilliant way to target strength in the hips and torso.
Lie on your side, and push up onto your forearm and the outside of the bottom foot. Keep your elbow under your shoulder and your hips and legs stacked. Keep your core engaged and body in alignment. Hold the plank for 30 seconds on each side.
For some of these, you can hold your coffee (or beer) in your hand and perform, so you have no excuses!