Leg Exercises for Runners
If you're used to getting your workouts done running-style, you may be missing your usual treadmill-based or outdoor run during lockdown.
Though, there are still plenty of ways for runners to keep in shape whilst we get through the isolation phase.
Strength training is fast becoming a popular choice for runners, thanks to the variety of exercises that combine to strengthen, tone and provide better stability for the legs.
For regular runners, strong leg muscles put less pressure on the joints, reducing your risk of injury. And for sprinters, leg exercises that promote strength can have a huge impact on those explosive starts and faster finish times.
By performing strength training exercises at home, you'll help to keep your lower body in top condition, and your stamina strong. Couple these exercises with a run using your one period of outdoor exercise a day, and you'll notice impressive results to your running technique.
Great for: Quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves, and core.
Squats work all of the core muscles in the legs, activating the areas crucial for speed and endurance whilst running. By incorporating squats into your strength training regime, you'll run faster on the flats, power up those climbs and strengthen the legs for a better stride.
Working the quads also helps to stabilise the knees, absorbing the impact of each landing as you run. This in turn helps to avoid injury, resulting in a smoother glide and reduced joint pain.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Point the toes slightly outward whilst keeping your back straight.
- Place a bar of a comfortable weight on the back of your shoulders. If you don't have weights at home, use a loaded rucksack or a pile of heavy books.
- Slowly squat down until your thighs are parallel to the ground, maintaining good posture with a straight back.
- Return to the starting position.
Repeat eight reps per set.
2: Walking Lunges
Great for: Quads, glutes, hamstring and calves.
Walking lunges are great for runners as they mimic the act of running and help train the body to accelerate forwards at a quicker pace. Walking lunges also help to improve co-ordination and balance. Use a dumbbell or a 4 pint bottle of milk in each hand whilst you lunge for extra resistance.
- With a dumbbell (or suitable household substitute!) in each hand, start by stepping forward with one leg, lowering your leg to a 90 degree angle with the floor.
- Push back up and stride out with the other leg, pushing the knee forward and keeping the quads parallel with the floor.
Repeat 10 reps per leg.
3: Calf Raise
Great for: Calves
Calf raises are great for strengthening the muscles to prevent fatigue, especially during uphill runs. Stronger ankles also help to increase stride length and reduce the risk of injury.
- Stand on your toes on the edge of a step, or the bottom of your stairs, heels hanging off the back.
- Lift your heels as you rise onto your tip toes, and hold for a few seconds to feel the stretch in your calves.
- Slowly lower the heels down to the starting position.
Aim for 15 to 20 reps per set.