Strength Training for Runners [part 3]

Side plank with leg extension

Are you ready to strengthen your muscles to become a better runner?

Here are some specific moves that focus muscles neglected in the running motion.

All of these exercises can be done in your living room with little to no equipment.

Yes that is yours truly busting a crazy side plank with leg extension (six pack modestly concealed beneath t-shirt)(I wish).

Let’s get started

A couple reminders . . .
You can add dumbbells or bands to add more challenge to these moves. Start with 2-3 sets of 12-15 repetitions. For the core exercises do 2-3 sets and start with 30 second holds and work up to 1 minute.

  1. Lunges- Take a giant step and let your back leg drop to the ground. Use good form and never let your knee extend beyond your toe. You can also do lateral (to the side) lunges to work the hip adductors. Other variations include back lunges and adding weights.
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  3. Squats- This is one of the single most effective exercises you can do for your lower body. Be sure to use good form and don’t allow your knees to extend beyond your toes. Sit back while keeping your abs engaged and your back straight. There are many ways to vary squats. Once a simple squat becomes easy you can add dumbbells, bands, do wall squats, widen the legs for plie squats, or do one-legged squats.
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  5. Calf raises- Start with your legs shoulder width apart and raise up as far as you can on your toes, hold briefly and release. You can add weights to make this exercise more challenging and also vary your toe position.
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  7. Pushups- Runners sometimes make the mistake of ignoring their upper body. Having strong arms, shoulders, chest, and back helps keep you upright during the running motion. There are many variations and modifications that you can do with pushups. If you’re a beginner you can modify by staying on your knees. For more advanced action you can do decline pushups, ball pushups, and vary your hand positions.
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  9. Pull ups are very beneficial and difficult. They use your back and arm muscles and your hand positions can be varied for greater challenge and range of motion. We have a simple pull up bar that hangs in a doorway. You can buy one at Walmart for $30. Admittedly, pull ups tough! Remember you can modify by keeping one leg on a chair.
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  11. Plank and side plank- You’re only as strong as your core (abs, obliques, lower back, hips). These muscles play an integral part of the running motion. If you have weak core muscles you may struggle with back pain. Doing full planks and side planks is a perfect way to strengthen these core muscles. Make sure that you keep your abs engaged during the exercise and keep your back straight. If you’re feeling adventurous go for a leg extension.
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  13. Superman- this exercise is another way to build core strength and gain lower back flexibility. Start by laying on your stomach with arms and legs extended straight. Lift your arms and legs in the air like you were flying and keep your head looking toward the floor. You can also do this exercise w/ alternating arm and leg raises to make it more challenging.
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  15. Bridge- Lay on your back with arms at your sides, feet flat on the floor and knees bent. Engage your abs and glutes as you push up your hips into a straight line. This exercise will engage your glutes, core, hips, and quads. You can keep both feet planted on the floor, pulse up and down, or balance on one foot while extending the other leg to add variety.



Without a doubt, consistently doing these exercises will build the muscles overlooked during marathon training. My motto is . . . “Leave no muscle behind!”

Always maintain good form and if this is new to you start slowly. If you have any doubt on how to do a move properly be sure to look for a tutorial on YouTube so that you can perform it safely. We also have a short demonstrational video in the Academy and mp3 coaching lessons on stretching, cross-training, and yoga.

2 Responses to Strength Training for Runners [part 3]

  1. Te'ena November 3, 2012 at 3:48 pm #

    Thank you for these great explanations of strength exercises! I am going to try them out in my training this coming week!

    • Angie November 16, 2012 at 7:00 pm #

      Sounds great! Keep up the wonderful work.

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