There are muscle groups that we must strengthen with specific exercises at the beginning and at the end of the race if we want everything to go well. In addition, they will help us to improve performance.
Undoubtedly the best training and exercise we can do to improve our running form is, indeed, to run and accumulate more kilometers, but, above all, to do it more effectively. If we only dedicate ourselves to running, it will be more difficult for us to reach an optimal state fitness, since it is necessary to compensate our muscles with specific strengthening exercises that, on the one hand, will prevent us from getting injured and, on the other hand, by strengthening and toning the muscles, we will run more and better.
In addition to the proper exercises that help us to protect our leg muscles – namely: quadriceps, hamstrings, calves and soleus, which we need to tone to help us improve our running form and achieve better times – we should consider and include in our routine other muscle groups that we tend to forget, because we do not think that they have a direct intervention in our running performance. Big mistake! There are three muscle groups that directly intervene in how we perform and which we should strengthen with specific exercises that we should perform before and after the race.
I don’t know if it’s because they are behind and we don’t see them, but they are the great forgotten muscles in our running preparation. Contrary to what we may believe, the glutes are vital muscles when we run, and their strength and toning allows us to run more intensely. The glutes generate the strength needed to run more effectively. The problem is that if we do not exercise them, they can become overloaded or even injured.
- Back Raises: Standing, facing a wall, we lean with our hands on the wall and raise one leg backwards. We do ten lifts with each leg.
- Circular turns: Standing, we lean with one hand on the wall and lift slightly and laterally one of the legs that we keep straight and make 10 circular turns in one direction and another 10 in the opposite direction. Repeat the exercise with the other leg.
It is more than an exercise of tension, it is an exercise of elasticity and flexibility. To avoid injury and keep the gluteal muscles elastic and fit, we will perform the following exercises:
- Leg cross: Imitating the gesture we maintain when we are sitting and cross one leg over the knee, we lower our hip and cross one leg over the knee and hold the position for ten seconds. Then we change and perform the same exercise with the other leg.
A good posture of our body when we run has less to do with keeping our back straight and erect and more to do with the correct position of the pelvis. When we run, the pelvis should be in an elevated and neutral position, neither tilted backwards nor forwards. This way our position will be more ergonomic and we will be able to run more.
Cat’s back: On all fours but supported on hands and knees, we lean the body at an angle of 45 degrees, hunching the back as cats do. Hold the posture for five seconds and do the opposite movement by sinking the kidneys. Perform five repetitions of the exercise.
Leg lifts: In running, as in almost any other sport, it is essential to strengthen our core. The work of the abdominal muscles is critical and necessary to support our body with a neutral balanced inclination. For this reason we must work the abdominals and lumbar muscles expressly and regularly.
In this case and once we finish running, we lie down on the floor and raise our legs at an angle of 90 degrees and slowly descend until we leave them a few inches off the ground. Hold the position for three seconds and raise your legs back to the starting position. Perform ten repetitions of the exercise.
Normally when we run we focus our attention on the legs, which are the ones that support most of the effort required by the exercise, and we forget the upper body. We only have to look at popular runners who present an enviable physique when we look at their legs and instead show an unbalanced, weak and underdeveloped thorax when we look further up. It is true that to run well it is better not to have a large muscle mass, but we must tone all our muscle groups. A powerful swing helps us to improve our stride and therefore our running efficiency.
Before going for a run, it is advisable to activate the arms so that they accompany us in each stride.
Simulated skipping: Without moving from the place, we imitate the skipping exercise by raising our legs alternately, while we brace, marking each movement. When we raise one leg, we mark energetically the movement of the opposite arm. We repeat with the opposite arm and leg ten times.
Skipping: After running, it is advisable to do running technique two or three times a week. Regardless of the fact that a couple of days a week we do a complete table of running technique, every day after running, we should do front skipping exercises, strongly marking the braking. We do two sets of ten forward skipping.