5 Great Exercises for Runners

by Ryan Flanagan MS, LAT, ATC, CSCS

Everyday millions of people across the world enjoy running. They do it for exercise, stress relief, rehabilitation, and many other reasons. While running in-itself is exercise, runners who want to improve and stay healthy should also be performing strength training exercise as well. The two main reasons experienced runners include resistance training and strength & conditioning sessions is to lower their risk of injury and improve performance (1). Below are 5 great exercises that can be done anywhere to help improve your running and overall health.

  • Squats - Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Lower your body by bending your knees, pushing your hips back as if sitting in a chair. Keep your back neutral and your chest lifted. Lower as far as you can, then slowly straighten up to standing.
  • Lunges - From a standing position, take a big step forward with your right foot. Allow both knees to bend to about 90 degrees. Step back with your right to a standing position. Keep your front knee behind your toes and your upper body erect.
  • Bridges - Lie faceup on a mat with knees bent, arms at sides, palms down. Draw your belly button in towards your spine and press into heels to lift hips up off mat. Engage core, glutes, and hamstrings to keep hips level.
  • Push ups - Start in a high plank position, on your hands and toes (or knees if you’re just starting out), with your arms a little wider than your shoulders. Keep your weight slightly forward, so that your wrists, elbows and shoulders are in alignment. Keeping your body straight, slowly bend your elbows, lowering your chest toward the floor. Press up, straightening your elbows, to your starting position.
  • Planks - From a pushup position, bend your elbows and lower your body so that you are on your forearms and toes. Keep your body in alignment, so that you are basically straight (like a plank!) and not sagging in the middle or lifting your back or rear end up. Engage your abdominal muscles (pull them in and brace like expecting a punch) and squeeze your gluteal muscles. Hold for a time that is challenging, then repeat a few times.

Implementing a safe strength training program has been shown to improve running economy as well as other physiological determinants of running performance (2)(3). Whether you run purely for enjoyment or you are a serious competitor, performing the exercises above can help mitigate injury and keep you strong for the miles ahead.

Works Cited

  1. Blagrove, Richard C. Nicola Brown, Phillip R. Hayes, Glyn Howatson. Strength and Conditioning Habits of Competitive Distance Runners. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. May 2020. Volume 34. Issue 5.
  2. Blagrove, Richard C, Phillip R. Hayes, Glyn Howatson. Effects of Strength Training on the Physiological Determinants od Middle and Long Distance Running Performance: A Systematic Review. Sports Medicine. 2018
  3. Blagrove, Richard C. Emily J. Cushion, Glyn Howatson, Philip R. Hayes, Charles R. Pedlar, Adam Spence. Effects of Strength Training on Postpubertal Adolescent Distance Runners. Medical Science Sports Exercise. October. 2018.
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