Winter is a great time of the year to focus on your weaknesses. This is accomplished through run specific training and an individualized strength and flexibility program. We have already highlighted the importance of a well designed pre-marathon training plan. In this post, we will talk about strength and flexibility.
Here at OnTrack we have performed numerous gait analyses for runners and triathletes. The most common issues we see among our athletes are hip/glute weakness and inflexibility. This can cause an array of bio-mechanical issues, which will affect your running economy by forcing you to compensate for these imbalances. Poor running economy results in a greater physical effort to run and puts you at a greater risk of injury. Imagine running at your typical pace but because your body is working more effectively, it feels easier! This is what a good strength and flexibility training program can do for you.
We recently put all our OnTrack athletes on a 4-5 week “Level One” Strength Training program. We have three levels, which our athletes accomplish over four months. Our goal of this three-level plan is to increase sport specific functional and dynamic strength, so our athletes can be stronger, more efficient, more flexible, injury free, and as a result, achieve all of their race goals.
Level One Functional Strength Training Guide
The focus of level one is to build a foundation for strength and power development that comes in level two and three. The exercises include full body movements aimed at improving flexibility, balance and neuromuscular coordination. Based on a physical therapy evaluation and gait analysis, additional exercises may be included to address individual weaknesses. This level is best performed in your pre-season phase of running.
Neuromuscular warm up:
- Hip openers: donkey kicks, knee circles (forward and back), lateral and linear leg swings.
- Lateral ins and outs: (front and side), hop scotches -Use an agility ladder or an invisible ladder in the field.
- Step ups: using a low step bench, up down, up down on the forefoot, quick quick!
- Functional Movements: perform as a circuit alternating one core exercise with one leg exercise.
- Reverse lunge
- Skater Squats
- Dead lifts: start at double and progress to single then add weight.
- Standing hip stabilizer: standing on leg closest to point of resistance, pull across the body while raising opposite knee. Keep hips stable.
- 1/3 kneeling wood chops: kneeling on leg facing the column, pull the weight down to knee without rotating the hips.
- Planks: hold a front plank then side plank for 20-40 seconds, progress to spiderman crawl -alternate right knee to right elbow, left to left.
- Dead bugs: in a V position, press a physio ball against your thighs and lower one leg at time, progress to lowering right leg and right arm simultaneously.
- Bridges: holds then progress to supine bridge-belly button up and legs straight.