You use your legs an awful lot when you become a distance runner, so make sure that you treat them well by giving them a good, solid workout plan. Besides, who doesn't love a svelte pair of legs? Sexy legs is exactly what you will get if you include both distance running and additional leg workouts in your busy life. Think about adding at least two leg workouts per week in addition to your normal running schedule, with four workouts being even better.
Plyometrics is a fun and efficient way to work out your legs for distance running. These exercises provide an explosive type of strength that comes from elongating your muscles before forcefully shortening them. Perform the vertical jump by standing in one place with your feet shoulder-width apart, bending your knees and then jumping as high as you can into the air. Pause after you land, bending your knees again, and repeat for 30 to 60 seconds. A one-legged hop is done by standing on one leg and hopping up and down on the ball of your foot for 30 to 60 seconds. Take a 30-second break and repeat with the other foot. Do multiple sets of either exercise for a greater workout, especially as you get used to doing plyometrics over time. Two sessions of plyometrics are enough each week, as you can easily overdo this type of exercise.
Your core muscles are composed of your abs, back, buttocks and thighs. Adding exercises to work out this group is greatly beneficial for you as a distance runner, even if it doesn't strictly focus on your legs. Your core needs to be fierce for you to be competitive as a runner, so do squats and lunges a few times per week. For squats, stand with your feet hip-width apart, and then slowly lower your buttocks while bending your knees, keeping your back straight. Your torso bends forward slightly. Hold, and then come back to a starting position. Repeat at least 10 times. Perform lunges with a straight torso; take a big step forward with one leg, with your knee bent over your toe, and bend the back leg so the knee almost touches the floor. Hold, and then return to your starting position. Repeat at least 10 times.
Weight lifting is crucial to developing the strength and endurance that you need to be a hard-core distance runner. Work out both your upper and lower body at least two times per week with free weights or the machines that you find at the gym. Good leg machines include the leg press, leg curl, adductor and abductor machines. If you choose to use free weights, you can do squats with a barbell, but make sure that you have a spotter to help you out. If you dislike lifting weights, do strength training that focuses on using your own body weight for resistance, such as yoga or Pilates. The important thing is that you are actively developing the muscle mass in your legs on a weekly basis.
Add dynamic stretching to your prerunning routine to keep your legs flexible and reduce injuries while you are out running miles. Dynamic stretching is defined as stretches that resemble the movements that take place during your sport of choice -- in this case, running. Save the static, or holding, stretches for after you run for best results. An example routine includes 10 walking lunges in fast succession, 10 hacky-sack stretches, where you lift your foot inward and touch it with your opposite hand, and 10 butt-kicks where you lightly kick your butt with the back of your foot. Start with a warm-up of light cardio activity for 10 minutes, followed by your dynamic stretching routine, and then your run. After your run perform a few static stretches, where you hold each stretch for 20 to 30 seconds.