Stop, Circuit Time! Strength Training for Runners

by Micaela Young

Fall is the best season for running: The return of goldilocks temperatures, the crunch of leaves under our feet and the refreshing crispness of the air happily gets us outside. Whether you plan to take on new PR or distance goals this autumn, or just want to enjoy nature’s scenery, the simple strength training circuits below will help you go the distance.

 Strength training is an ambiguous topic for most runners. Are we supposed to lift? If we are, what do we do and how often? Scientists and coaches alike have flip-flopped on the topic, but new research shows that a little strength goes a long way. Plyometrics and strength training interventions, both of low and high intensity, greatly improve running economy—the amount of oxygen required to propel your muscles over a certain distance—according to a new systematic review and meta-analysis published this summer in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

So, how much should you do? Well this depends on many factors, including workout schedule (if you’re lacing up for an upcoming race) and personal recovery rates, but general guidelines recommend including at least two nonconsecutive strength days per week. Bodyweight circuits are a great way to fit in strength work anywhere, even on a time crunch. Use these two circuits to kick-start—or change up—your training week.

Happy Running!

Circuit #1: For After Easy Running Days

Time: Approximately 10 minutes

 1 min each

1- Pushups

 Modify this by carefully dropping to your knees.

2- Side Squats

30 seconds each side.

3- Forward Lunge Hold with Jumping

Do a front lunge, hold it, count to three and then jump into a forward lunge on the opposite leg.

4- Single Leg Deadlifts

Balance on one leg, lean forward until hands are near shins. Keep abs, butt and back engaged, and chest out. Keep eyes looking straight ahead. Knee are slightly bent. Alternate legs.

5- Knee-to-Outside Elbow Planks

Begin in a straight arm standard plank. Bring your right to knee to right elbow. Count to three. Repeat on opposite side.

6- Side Plank with Hip Raises – Left Side

7- Side Plank with Hip Raises – Right Side

Untimed

Bridge Series

10 reps—bridge with both legs

10 reps on left leg with right leg extended out

10 reps on left leg with right leg extended up

10 reps on right leg with left leg extended out

10 reps on right leg with left leg extended up

 

Circuit #2: For After Short or Non-Running Days

Time: Approximately 20 minutes
Warmup:

50 Jumping Jacks

10/leg Shallow lunges with torso twist

20 Shallow squats

2 pushups

1 min each

Set your watch/phone to beep every minute on repeat.

Workout:

Burpees

Extra: Add a jump at the top

Military lunges

Form check: These are regular forward lunges (not letting knee go past toes) with hands placed behind your head, keeping your elbows out of sight and back engaged

Forearm Plank Hold

Extra: Alternate leg lifts

Squats

Form check: Knees in line with shins, not leaning forward past toes. Keep your head up and butt back as if you were sitting in a chair. Lower down as far as you comfortably can.

Jump Squats

Form check: Same form as regular squats, just add a small jump in between each

Left Side Plank

Form check: Keep elbow and shoulder in line with one another – to protect shoulder joint

Extra: Add a torso lift, or do reps of lifting your right leg up & down for a challenge

Matrix lunges-Left leg

Form check: Forward lunge, side lunge, backwards lunge, and forward again. Repeat.

Right Side Plank

Extra: Add a torso lift, or do reps of lifting your right leg up & down for a challenge

Burpees w/Pushup

Extra: Add a jump at the top

Matrix lunges – Right leg

Form check: Forward lunge, side lunge, backwards lunge, and forward again. Repeat.

Mountain Climbers

Extra: Bring knee to the opposite arm for an added twist

Left Leg Balance

Form check: Keep left foot planted on floor. Do reps of bringing right knee up to 90-degree angle with running arms.

Extra: (1) Do not let right leg touch floor. (2) Speed it up for an added challenge. (3) Straighten right leg after bringing it up to 90-degree angle.

Artwork by Nathan McElrath

Deadlifts

Form check: These can be done with weights if you have them, but if not just focus on keeping abs, butt and back engaged, and chest out. Keep eyes looking straight ahead. Knees are slightly bent.

Extra: Try single leg deadlifts for an added balance challenge

Right Leg Balance

Form check: Keep right foot planted on floor. Do reps of bringing left knee up to 90-degree angle with running arms.

Extra: (1) Do not let right leg touch floor. (2) Speed it up for an added challenge. (3) Straighten right leg after bringing it up to 90-degree angle.

Forearm Plank Hold w/Hip Twists

Form check: Try getting your hip bone as close, and as comfortably, as you can to the floor. It is important to keep your abs engaged to avoid straining your back.

Other helpful Sprout links:

Top Boston Running Spots

Tips for Running in the Cold

Micaela Young is a second-year NUTCOM student and certified personal trainer with the American College of Sports Medicine. After four years of collegiate running, she knows a thing or twenty about using strength training to prevent injuries and get the most out of your running.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s