Simple Top Tips for Running Strength

By Kim Ingleby, Team GB Sports Therapist, Mind Ninja & 10 x World Marathon Runner. Optimum Nutrition are the Official Sports Nutrition Partner of Human Race.

At the weekend I often work with a couple of young talented athletes tipped for the 2020 Olympics. I have worked with one for many years, and Rio 2016 was her first Olympics.  She was telling me about the Strength Tests they do on a monthly basis to ensure they are strong enough. Well… I am amazed by what they can do! Hold a plank for 7mins and 15secs with perfect form, do 60 full press-ups, chest touching the ground, no rest, squat with bodyweight on their shoulders. I could go on, but there are top secret things in there so you will just have to see how they get on…

However, it does allow us to pause for a moment and think about our own strength training. Runners and triathletes often are time short, feeling they will get strong by doing a variety of sessions, and hills. This is undoubtedly true, yet a couple of core and strength sessions will improve times, confidence, any muscle imbalances and reduce the risk of injury. Whatever your fitness level or age, whatever your goals are, try a couple of sessions a week for six weeks and see how you get on.

Top 10 Simple Strength Tips for Endurance:

  1. Plan in two 20 minute sessions per week to start with and get into the habit of doing them. You may need to adapt your training schedule for the week, but commit for six weeks and I promise it will make a difference.
  2. One session should be a core session including abdominals, lower back and glutes – make it as functional to running as possible. Try this: 4 rounds of 45secs per exercise/15 secs rest (adapt as required): Crunches, Leg Cycling, Gluteal Bridge, Back Alternates, Dorsal Raises, Plank.
  3. The second session will be more of compound (big muscle) exercises, including squats, lunges, press ups, deadlift (if you are happy with technique) and pull ups. If you have access to a Kettlebell, Medicine Ball or TRX, these add another whole dimension to your training and are great for added power and stability. However, keep it simple and consistent to start with as body weight training works.
  4. Plan your strength sessions after key speed sessions so you are not fatigued and reduce the risk of injury. Reduce them a couple of weeks before a key race so you are ready to do your best.
  5. Change the strength session on a six week basis so the muscles get challenged differently. Start with 2-3 sets of 15 reps, and vary to get more benefit. Using DNA testing can help to get really specific with the type of strength training which would be most suitable for you.
  6. Include some single leg work, and balance work to improve your stride, especially when you start to fatigue. If you are unsure, just start by balancing on one leg for 60 secs keeping your hips level, this can be done when you are brushing your teeth.
  7. Get a friend or a few members of your club involved in the strength sessions so you can watch each other’s technique, and make sure you commit to the sessions each week.
  8. Choose exercises that will compliment the terrain and type of races you are doing, so if you are doing off road and Xterra races, using a balance disc and bosu will help with stability, where as if it’s flat and fast, adding in more explosive weights in the off season can make a difference to performance.
  9. If you have time, add in some plyometric drills (jumps, bounds, hops, ladders etc) to add some power and agility (as long as you are injury-free).
  10. Commit, enjoy it and any questions ask a qualified professional. Let us know how you get on!

For Strength & Core Training Workouts click here: &

If you have any questions about technique please do let us know, and if you are unsure do ask a qualified professional to help you. Tweet us how you get on too! @kimingleby @UKTeam_Optimum

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