As hard as it is to believe, marathon and half marathon season is rapidly approaching the close for the season. For many people this means bringing the running inside and concentrating on other workouts. This is also the perfect time to begin giving your body rest from the mileage and making it stronger so that next season you come back a stronger, faster runner. It is important to limit the wear and tear on your body.
Here are some exercises, complete with a foam rolling program, that will help correct the muscle imbalances that you have formed through the season, allowing your running to be even better when you return to the road.
- Lunge. Runners need to lunge and many people avoid them because they are afraid of hurting their knees. However if done correctly they are safe. The goal when performing a lunge is to put most of your weight on the foot that is lunging forward. Then have most of your weight going through the heel as you go down into the lunge position. Lift your toes off the ground in the front to make sure that you are emphasizing the amount of weight put through your heel. Doing that will allow you to activate your hamstring and not your quad which can cause you knee pain. Perform 30 on each leg.
- Reverse plank. Most runners have problems with their extension because they stop short in the back and do not allow themselves to push through the entire stride. Doing reverse planks will also allow you to gain muscle endurance and control in order to help bring the leg all the way through the stride. Perform 1 minute, 3 sets.
- Mountain climbers. Starting off with a plank and holding that for a minute 3 times may be all you need right now, but incorporate some cardio and a total body routine by bringing one leg up to your chest in rapid fire motion.
- Bridging. This goes hand in hand with the reverse plank. With the body generally being weaker in the back than it is in the front, adding exercises to work your gluts and hamstrings allow for increased extension during your stride. This will result in faster times and less fatigue. If you are unable to perform these correctly on one leg, start by placing both legs down and then gradually lifting one leg up. Perform 30 on each leg.
- Side plank. Another great total body workout is the side plank. The only component that is missing is the cardio. You can do these either on your hand or on your elbow. Performing them on the hand will be much more difficult than performing them on your elbow. You should aim for 1 minute 3 times each side.
Making a strength training program part of your off season training plan will ensure that you go into next running season stronger, better and faster than you had before.