Running is an essential part of losing weight and being fit and healthy but it’s not the only way to exercise your body. “Today, runners need to do more than just run.” Says Jason Fitzgerald a US Track and Field Level 1 certified coach.
To make sure you avoid injury when running and build up your stamina and overall strength you need to do weight training and exercises which stretch your muscles and allow them to build up gradually. “Bodyweight routines can help you recover from running while still building the strength needed to help prevent future overuse injuries.” Adds Jason Fitzgerald.
You should do a mixed schedule of heavy weight training and light exercises which are best completed after your run as it will help in the warming down process. When you do heavy lifting exercises choose a moderate running or rest day. You will find that your strength and stamina increases as you build muscle and mobility.
1. Bench pressing with your back cushioned by the bench and your feet flat on the floor is an excellent way to strengthen your arms. Start with a light weight 40-50 pounds with 10 lifts repeated 3 times. Gradually increase the weight as you continue your training, make sure you train with a comfortable weight and don’t try to use heavier weights until you fell ready to do so. Always have someone with you to spot for you as you bring the bar down. This type of training is excellent for training in pairs and is also helpful in learning to control your breathing.
2. Curling using either a bar with weights or dumbbells. Bring the bar or dumbbell s up to your shoulders slowly, hold it and then slowly bring the down to your thighs. The arms are important in running as the more your arms work up and down the faster and longer you will run. You can also strengthen your arms with exercises such as pulling on weights on a machine or using a bar on the overhead pulley either pulling down to your chest or pulling down to the back of your neck and shoulder blades. Repeat 10 times with a set of three.
3. To strengthen calf and thigh muscles use a leg press and gradually increase the weights. This is a great way to increase the muscle capacity in your calf muscles and thighs. Do ten repetitions with three sets. Use a rowing machine for general fitness with both arms and legs and you can also lift weights with your legs either raising the weights when you are sitting on the bench or by lying on your stomach and raising the weights with your calves. Most gyms have good equipment for developing muscles which is what you need if you want to maintain your stamina and strength as a runner. Both gym work and running are complimentary and you need to do both to tone up your body so that you are really fit and healthy.
4. Squats are a good way to strengthen thigh muscles and glutes. Pick up the weight bar and rest it on your shoulders .Keeping your legs slightly apart and your shoulders straight bring your body down into a crouching position and then slowly straighten up. Repeat 10 times with 3 sets. Like other weight training exercises it’s a good way to learn breathing control which you also need for running. Always have someone with you when you so this exercise if you increase the weights. Be warned however, that if you are going to injure your back in a gym trying to do squats with too heavy a weight is the most likely way you will do it, so be very careful and don’t overdo the weight.
In a study on 90 year olds by Elhuyar Fundazioa quoted in Science Daily it showed the after doing specific training for 12 weeks, people over the age of 90 improved their strength, power and muscle mass. They walked faster, got up without difficulty and were less subject to falls, so its not only a question of mobility for the young.
5. The traditional army pushups are a good way to strengthen your arms. Lying flat on the ground push up with the palms of your hands until your arms are then fully extended .Then slowly lower yourself to the ground, don’t collapse. Repeat 20 times and do as many as you can.
6. Leg raises. Lie on your back with your arms parallel with your body. Raise your legs but keep them straight and then hold them steady and your stomach muscles will take the strain. Repeat this 20 times and do as many as you can.
7. Sit ups are also an excellent way to tone the stomach muscles .Lie flat. Put your hands behind your head or keep your arms to your side. Keep your knees bent and raise your head up until you reach your knees, then slowly return your head to the ground but do not lie down completely. Keep the stomach muscles tense and repeat the exercise 20 times and continue for as long as you can. You can also twist your body from side to side as you raise your head which will help to trim your stomach muscles and aid with body control. The more you do in the gym you will feel the benefit as you become a better and faster runner.
8. Over head lunge. Hold a pair of dumbbells above your head and bring your right leg forward as your knee bends. Keep your body in line with your knee and do not lean over. Keep your shoulders straight and your arms lock. Repeat with the other leg and complete as many lunges as you can.
9.You can use an exercise ball and lie with your stomach on the ball and your feet flat on the ground. Raise your arms and lower them as many times as you can.
10. Alternating dumbbell rowing. Arch your back and keep your arms parallel and straight. Slowly raise the dumbbells to your shoulder alternating the right and left arm or raising both dumbbells together and then slowly lowering them under control. Repeat as often as you can.