Running is a complex action relying on an efficient muscular system to allow enhanced performance, pain free movement and longevity. Therefore it is of upmost importance to have a strength and conditioning alongside your running specific program so that you can enjoy many more miles in the sport that you love.

While basic exercises focusing on core, lower back and legs will assist you, I’m going to increase your understanding so that a refined program will guarantee much greater rewards.

First of all, when designing a program, exercise prescription is as follows:

So yes, a plank could be used for core activation at the beginning of a program, however you wouldn’t follow it with numerous isolated abdominal/ lower back exercises that would tire the main stabilizing muscles. They would be done at the end.

Also, are you ever on two feet while running? So why train like that. Obviously a good base movement should be installed first, however, you want to get on one-leg as soon as possible. Are you a trail runner? Then why are you training on a stable surface. Throw in a Bosu and test your tilting reflexes (unpredictable surface).

Can your reduce time by incorporating smaller movements into more beneficial compound movements (multi-joint) which have a higher functional carryover? Of course you can, maybe a single leg deadlift where you can work a sling system and strengthen the lower back. The body moves with four sling systems, so it’s important to include exercises (stimuli) which are going to create an overload forcing the systems to adapt and ultimately get stronger. The longitudinal sling system (kinetic energy is passed from the ground through the leg into the sacro-iliac joint, which is transferred back down & allows the foot strike to take place) can be trained through exercise such as squats and lunges. The posterior sling system (lat with contra lateral glute) can be strengthened through pulling exercises, the anterior sling system (adductor, internal oblique & opposite external oblique) through pushing exercise & the lateral sling system movement (quadratus lumborum – responsible for lifting hip so leg can swing under) by step ups.

Ideally you want an optimal axis of rotation around each joint by having a good balance of strength, flexibility and stability, so I’d also highly recommend a flexibility & self-myofascial release (foam roller) program alongside your strength program to alleviate imbalances, correct posture & reduce further compensation of over-used muscles, as after all, your glutes are your prime movers and you wouldn’t want synergistic dominance overshadowing these powerful muscles, as when they are firing, so are you!

Plank on Ball & Bench

3 sets. 1 min.

With your feet on the bench and your arms straight on the ball, squeeze your glutes, engage you core and maintain balance.

Single-leg Deadlift

3 sets. 12 reps.

Standing on your right leg, back straight and arms long, bend down toward the floor. Touch the bar gently on the floor before returning to starting position, pushing your hips through. Do 12 on one side and then the other before taking a break.

Step Ups

3 sets. 12 reps.

Standing in front of a box (40-60cm) with dumbells in hands, step up with your right foot, keeping your back straight and then bring other foot to match. Return back to the ground with your leading foot and repeat. Do all the reps on one side and then repeat.

Alt Overhead Dynamic Lunges

3 sets. 24 reps.

With the weight plate extended overhead, step forward with right foot and bend knee to 90 degrees before pushing through the front heel and returning to start position. Repeat with opposite leg.

Push & Pulls on Cable

3 set. 12 reps.

With your left leg forward, cable of the back stack in your right hand, grab the cable which you are facing with your left hand (twice the weight of the right hand one). As you push the right one forward, pull the left one back at the same time while keeping your core engaged. Return slowly to staring position. Repeat 12 times and then change sides.