As a runner, you need more than just miles in your workout schedule. To perform your best, you also need to engage in regular runner-specific exercises that can help you avoid injuries and develop a prize-winning form. By taking time out of your daily schedule – even just a few minutes -- to focus on developing critical areas such as your hips, glutes and core, you can enjoy faster times, longer distances and better overall health.
Before you head out the door, prepare your body for action by doing warm-up exercises. Warmups increase your heart rate and breathing rate and also up the blood flow to your muscles, which allows your body to work more efficiently and decreases your risk of injury. Daily warm-up exercises can include walking lunges, body-weight squats, arm swings, forward and lateral leg swings and trunk rotations. Do each exercise for 20 seconds.
Your hips affect the quality of your runs in a big way. They stabilize the motion of your lower body and bring balance to your stride. Performing daily hip-strengthening exercises helps prevent harmful imbalances and weaknesses that lead to running injuries, such as iliotibial band syndrome, Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis and knee pain. After returning from your daily run, grab a resistance band and perform standing hip flexors and abductors and seated hip external rotators. Do three sets of 10 reps on each leg.
Your core is another area that make or break your training schedule. Along with your hips, your core includes the muscles of your abs and back, which influence posture, help you transfer energy and evenly distribute stress. By training your core daily, you can improve your running economy and speed and sidestep a host of common injuries. Set aside time every day for planks, side planks, supermans, and ab crunches and twists. To begin, hold planks and supermans for 30 seconds each and complete two or three sets of 25 to 50 crunches.
Your glutes do more than just make you look good in jeans. They also stabilize your hips and add power to your runs. Give your glutes a daily workout by doing glute bridges and variations of the move. Perform standard glute bridges, starting with five reps and holding each for a count of five. Once you’ve mastered that move, advance to single-leg and stability ball bridges to keep improving your glute strength.
After graduating from the University of Kansas with a bachelor's degree in sports information, Jill Lee served for 10 years as a magazine editor for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). Also a published author, Lee now works as a professional writer and editor focusing on fitness, sports and careers.