10 great exercises to improve your running

February 02 2018

Reach across balance - To develop ankle control, strength, proprioception


Stand on one leg and lift the other leg so thigh is parallel to the ground. Raise the arm on that side so that it is fully extended. Look straight ahead. Reach that arm down and across your body so that hand touches the top of the grounded foot. You’ll need to bend at the waist to do this. Pull torso back to upright and return to the starting position.

For extra stability remove shoes and grip the floor with the toes. Doing this will also help to strengthen the feet. Push your unsupported leg back and forward from the hip to initiate the pivoting movement required.


Do 4 x 8 on each leg

Lateral shuffle - To develop ankle (and hip) movement control and agility

Stand with your feet just beyond shoulder-width and drop down into a squat. Lift arms up so they are parallel to the ground. Initiate sideways movements by skipping from your forefeet taking reasonably long steps and generating some discernable height. 

Do 4 x 10 reps to the left and 4 reps to the right. 

For greater effort increase the sideways jump. This introduces a higher braking element when you transition from one direction to the other.

Leg raises - To develop leg and core strength

Lying on the floor and holding onto coffee table legs behind you, tense your core as you raise your straight legs off the ground and point them at the ceiling.

Repeat for 30sec.

Side plank raises - To develop core strength and improve running form

Propping yourself on one elbow with your other arm stretched upwards, lower your hip to the ground and then raise your hips upwards.

Repeat on both sides for 30sec each.

Plank - To develop core strength and improve running form 

In a press-up position, lower yourself onto your forearms and make sure your core is straight and tensed. Hold the position for 30sec.

That bit extra…

These exercises will improve mobility, increase overall strength and stimulate fast twitch fibres. They are a great addition to your weekly programme. Do them once a week before or after a short run.

Hill speed plyometrics

If you’re short of hills, plyometric work is perfect. It mimics the explosive demands of fast uphill running but, more importantly, the stressful eccentric, lengthening under load work your muscles have to endure when descending. Warm-up with 10-15min of progressively harder running, or tag these onto the end of any run.

Jog for 3-5min and repeat exercises 1-4 up to three times.

Jump squats

Squat down until your thighs are parallel to the ground (see image A) and explode up as high as you can (see image B). Land with soft leg, sinking straight into the squat to absorb your landing.

Pause at the bottom and repeat – 20 reps.

Jump Lunges

Step forward into a standard lunge. Explode vertically upwards, switching legs in the air and absorb the landing by sinking back into a lunge.

Pause to regain balance and repeat x 20.

Bounds

Imagine skipping but with a bit more intensity. Drive powerfully from stride to stride, cover as much distance as possible for 20 steps and don’t forget to swing your arms, too.

Hops

Powerful hops, again driving with your arms and covering as much distance per hop as you can. Do 10 reps on one leg, then switch legs.