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Tips to Keep You Running
Early in my career I had an elderly gentleman approach me at the gym and say, “You know running is bad for you, it is like smoking!” I laughed to myself, thinking he was procrastinating doing his exercises by making conversation. Over the following13 years working as a trainer, I understood what he was saying and now know that he was definitely onto something (although I still contest that smoking is worse).
The problem with running is that most runners only run and neglect to strengthen the rest of their body. This typically results in overuse injuries, often in the knees, hips, feet or lower back. Not only can cross training prevent injuries, it can help you improve your running speed, stamina and form as well.
On-season (which is now) cross-training is not the time to be building muscle or power and should be focused on maintaining strength, posture and core stability. Ideally a full body routine twice weekly is a perfect balance to any running program. This routine can be cardio-based by alternating your exercises without breaks in between so you can maintain a higher heart rate and avoid worrying about missing a cardio workout.
Here are a few key exercises runners should include in their regime:
1. 1-leg 1/2 squat: Knee over toe, hands on hips, tall posture. Bend only to 30 degrees and then straighten all the way while tightening your knees. 10/leg
2. Bridging: On your back with your knees bent 90 degrees, slowly lift your hips up and down off the ground. 15x
3. Heel raises: Feet hip width apart and straight, bum cheeks squeezed. Slowly go up onto your tip toes keeping your weight spread evenly across your toes. 15x
4. Back extensions: On your stomach, fingernails under your forehead, bum cheeks squeezed. Lift your chest off the ground approximately one to two inches. 10-20x
5. Plank: On your forearms and toes make a bridge without letting your hips or low back sag. You should feel this in your stomach and not your back. Hold to exhaustion.
6. IT band roll: Using a foam roller or soccer ball, slowly roll the outside of your leg from your hip to knee. 5x/leg
Remember all exercises should be pain free and if you have any injuries or want a more specific program please see a fitness professional.
Also for all those runners who continue exercising with an injury, please know that you are who he was talking about. Look after yourself before you end up with long-term problems, just like smokers!