I am not going to beat a dead horse with this blog post. If you have been following along each week, by now I hope you can appreciate the connection between core strength and running performance. One thing I would like to emphasize today is the idea of “specificity of training.”
So what does this mean? It’s as simple as this. If you want to become a better runner, you run. If you want to be a better swimmer, you swim. Seems easy enough, right? Do you want to run faster? Incorporate some speed drills into your training. Do you want to run further? Well, strap on your fuel belt and hit the road. The point is, everyone’s training plan should look a little different based on what their goals are for each race. Don’t beat yourself up by trying to tailor your training to someone else’s.
That being said, there are some fundamentals that every training plan needs to be effective. Strength and flexibility are two main players. Within these fundamentals, specificity continues to be important. For example: if you’re looking to build hip strength to supplement your running, you should strengthen your hips through exercises that stress them in the same way running does.
Running is a dynamic, multi-planer activity. Therefore, your strength exercises should be dynamic and incorporate all planes (forward/backward, side to side, turning/pivoting). While running, only one foot is ever in contact with the ground at a time. You should incorporate exercises which improve your ability to propel yourself while balancing on one leg. The variations of strength exercises are endless, some are more effective than others. Let’s use seated leg extensions at the gym for example. Does this machine increase your thigh strength? Yes, it does. The problem is, when are you ever running sitting down? (You’re not). This exercise will likely not translate to faster times and less injuries for runners. To truly feel the effects of strength training while you are running you should be training your “go” muscles, not your “show” muscles.
It’s important to also keep in mind that quality always supersedes quantity. If you’re hammering through repetitions without being mindful of your form, you’re missing out on gains to be made. You may also be setting yourself up for injury. Check out the video below for a demonstration of our lunge matrix routine. It will (and should) be hard at first. If you’re not sore the day after you try these, you’re probably not doing them correctly!
Here are a few exercises you should try to build “runner-specific” strength: