For most runners — especially those who want to keep a strong base — there is no true time off from the sport. However, an off season is a great time to run less in order to adequately prepare for a new year of running.
“Runners should definitely continue running, but much lighter than in their training season,” explains Lauren Peterson, a personal trainer at Gold’s Gym in Santa Barbara, California. “Running two or three days a week is great, with a combination of long distance training, intervals and hills.”
With the extra days, it is the perfect time to work on your weaknesses. Elizabeth Corkum, a personal trainer and running coach at Mile High Run Club, says that this weakness often includes strength and flexibility. Improving those two aspects can help with injury prevention and improve running economy and paces.
THE IMPORTANCE OF STRENGTH AND MOBILITY
Why focus on strength and mobility? Injury prevention, experts say.
“It’s imperative that runners lift weights,” says Phillip Giackette, a USA Track and Field strength and conditioning coach. “Many runners have the fallacy in their minds that lifting negates the benefits of running; however, studies show that lifting weights increases running economy, time-to-exhaustion and neuromuscular function. What may make the biggest difference is the injury prevention that occurs from weight lifting.”
He also says that mobility moments help you run freely in full range of motion, helping decrease the likelihood of injury. All of this can be a great change of pace from a run-heavy training cycle.
In addition to the light running mentioned by Peterson, adding these strength and mobility routines to your schedule 2–3 times per week — on nonconsecutive days — will help you reach your peak potential come spring running season.
“Running is incredibly repetitive,” says Corkum. “We need to do what we can to keep the body balanced and strong, as that will keep us injury-free and running for decades to come.”
Add these three workouts into your arsenal to boost your strength and mobility. Rotate them in 2–3 times every week and look forward to seeing a difference when spring starts in March.
Each circuit comes with one strength-focused move, one that focuses on mobility and a final move that combines the two. As always, be sure to properly warm up before and cool down after completing these workouts.
For all three workouts, repeat the circuit twice, building up to three times as strength and mobility increases.
Burpees (15–20 reps) This is a great full-body strength exercise. To perform, start in a standing position. Lower into a squat, place your hands down and jump back into a pushup position. Do a pushup, and jump your legs back to a low squat before exploding into the air. Land in standing position, and repeat.
Lunges (20–30 on each leg) This move focuses on your glutes, which can be weak in runners. For this move, step one leg forward into a lunge, and either pulse and step back before moving to the second leg or walk forward, repeating on other leg.
Hip Flexor Stretch (40 seconds to 1 minute for each side) On a mat, come into a low lunge position, dropping all the way down to your back knee. Keeping your core engaged and shoulders back, push your back hip down toward the mat, feeling the stretch run down the front of your hip. This stretch should be performed in every workout and after every run.
Single-Leg Deadlifts (10–12 each leg) Focus on one leg at a time. Using a heavy kettlebell, stand on one leg (the same side holding the weight). Keep that leg bent, and hinge at the hip, extending your free leg behind you as you balance. Lower until you are parallel to the ground and then return to starting position.
Clamshells (20–30 each side) Lie on your side, with hips stacked and legs slightly bent. Keeping ankles together, raise your upper knee without shifting hips, keeping bottom leg on the floor. Lower knee and repeat.
Reverse Lunges with Weight (10–12 each leg) Hold the kettlebell at your chest, which causes your core to fire up and your legs to take on a bigger workload. Step back with your right foot, dropping your knee close to the floor and come up to a standing position. Repeat on the left.
Goblet Squats (15 reps) Hold a kettlebell by the handle, close to your chest in standing position. Squat down with your chest held upright, until your hamstrings and calves touch. Stand and repeat.
Squat Jumps (15 reps) Start in standing position, then do a squat, keeping your knees behind your feet. Once you reach the bottom of the squat, jump up into the air. Land and repeat.
Deep Squat Hold (15 reps, 30 seconds each) Start in standing position, and perform a deep squat, holding for 30 seconds. Stand and repeat.
GEAR UP FOR YOUR NEXT WORKOUT