Training indoors for outdoor sports

August 31 2015

Charley Radcliffe (aka Digital Steak) is a runner, rock climber and technology expert. He’s taken on frozen waterfalls, alpine north faces and ultra-distance challenges including the 100km London-to-Brighton run.  So we’ve asked him for his top tips on training indoors for outdoor sports…

Whether you are running 1500m or a marathon, it is easy to get caught up in sport-specific training requirements and restrict your preparation to just running. But while going out and pounding the pavement day after day can feel like a sure-fire way to make progress, it also opens you up to a number of risks.

This is why Injuries such as ITB (iliotibial band) Syndrome and shin splints are all too common.

Complementing your running training with indoor strength and gym work can not only help with prehab and injury prevention, but also add amazing strength gains, leading to faster splits and better overall athletic performance.

Running is often thought of as a leg-based sport but your whole body is very much involved in every step. So a strong foundation through your legs, core, and upper body results in tangible gains on race day.

Here are three exercises that will both strengthen and condition your body for better running performance.

1. Goblet Squats

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Of course, squats will have a place on this list, but I prefer to use goblet squats when working with runners. The benefit of goblet squats is that, while you work the quads and the glutes with the main squatting action, you also work on the mobility of your hips, knees, and ankles all at the same time.

Start holding a kettlebell or dumbbell in the goblet position and then lower yourself down between your legs. You want to have your rear below your knees.

Once down at the bottom, use your elbows to push your knees apart, opening up your hip joints.

Now gently draw a figure of 8 with your bottom before driving back up through your heels to complete the movement.

This is a great warm-up exercise without a weight for 2 sets of 10. Or raise the weight and aim for 3 sets of 10 as part of your workout.

2. Kettlebell Swings

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The main muscles that propel you forward whilst running are your hamstrings and your glutes, the two major muscle groups that are targeted with kettlebell swings.

Kettlebell swings have the added benefit of fully engaging the core as well as being a superb cardiovascular exercise, providing your body with everything it needs for a great workout.

People are often scared of injuring themselves with kettlebell swings (and they really should be taught by a qualified professional), but when done correctly they build up incredible strength and endurance in the muscles we need for running. What’s more, this strength actually protects the back and core.

Supersetting swings with goblet squats can be the foundation of a very intense and sweaty workout.

3. Core Work

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Though a little generic, core work is essential to running fitness. The ability to maintain good posture and to facilitate good breathing while running any distance is all down to the foundations you lay in core work.

The kettlebell swings help here, but I like to add more activity to really target all angles of people’s core muscles. Don’t get caught up in thinking your core is just your abs. Your core is all the way around your torso and hips area, so try to get a balanced workout in.

Complementing knee-to-opposite elbow (in press-up position bring your left knee up to your right elbow, then the other side) with shoulder bridges (lying on your back and raising your hips up, keeping your shoulders on the ground) targets the front and the back of your core muscles.

Three supersets with 10 of each exercise will certainly get your core fired up!