As every runner knows (or should know), strength and mobility are priceless when it comes to our overall running performance. It’s really a no-brainer: in order to become faster and build endurance, we need to incorporate strength into our training regimine. Of course it goes without saying that strengthening our legs is incredibly important, but runners will often neglect other key areas of the body that are essential in creating our overall prime level of fitness.
Knowing exactly what to focus on as far as exercises and movements can be a daunting challenge, but this Friday 5 with a little help from the world of CrossFit is about to clear all of that up. I reached out to Level 1 CrossFit Trainer and USAW certified coach Cody Lockridge from CTOWN CrossFit for the top 5 exercises every runner should focus on for optimum strength and mobility.
1. CORE WORK
Your core goes with you everywhere, so why not build it up? A lot of people think only about the abs when referring to the core, but it also involves the obliques and lower back. Maintaining posture while running is just as important as anything else, so be sure to perform core work about 3 times per week. There are many options to build on this area: planking, Russian twists, sit-ups, Supermans, and hollow holds are just a few. Change it up each day, and try different routines.
Back squats, front squats, goblet squats, air squats: it doesn’t matter which style you do, just squat! Squatting not only builds the glutes, but also the hamstrings, quads, calves, and even your core. Stronger muscles while running will result in more stamina as far as form and muscle endurance are concerned. Runners should squat at least 2-3 times a week. Play around with sets and reps, and really challenge your body.
3. HIP MOBILITY
This is typically a problem area for women, so working on hip mobility should be a prime focus for all of you Salties out there. One fantastic movement is called “the couch stretch.” The objective is to place your knee against the bottom of a wall, shin and foot folded behind the body and up against the wall. Your other leg is in front of you in a lunge position. The goal is to sit up completely with your core turned on. This will open up the hip flexor as well as stretch out your quad muscle. Spend 90 seconds in this position per leg, and definitely do this mobility movement 3-5 times a week.
4. ANKLE MOBILITY
While running, if you have to pick your foot up sooner than you should due to poor range of mobility in the ankle, it will throw off your gait and form, which can lead to injury. One mobility piece to help with that issue is as follows: place your foot on a box that is about hip height. From this position, take a kettle bell or dumbbell and place it on top of your knee. The goal is to keep your heel flat on the box and push the knee as far forward as possible while leaning on the outside of your foot. Spend about 90 seconds per ankle, and do this movement about 3-5 days a week, depending on how poor your mobility is in this area of the body.
5. BARBELL SMASHING
Sounds fun right? This is another great mobility piece. While sitting on the ground, take the end of a barbell and place it on top of your quad. Slowly roll the bar down your leg to the top of your knee and then back up to the top of your quad. As you roll down, flex the muscle and relax it. This allows the barbell to get deeper into the muscle tissue and undo any knots. Moving slowly is key; the faster you roll, the less it does for the muscle. Spend about 7 minutes rolling out each quad. This movement should be done on a rest day or after a work out, and it should be done every day until the muscle tissue begins to clean up. After that point, use this movement as needed.
What are your goto strength or mobility moves?