Plan developed by Mindy Solkin, owner and head coach of The Running Center in New York City.
By now, you’ve probably noticed some shapely muscle tone emerging in your lower half. But to prevent injury and help you go farther, faster, it’s crucial to include some basic strength training in your weekly routine. These three simple moves are a must for every runner (and walk/runner). Do them at least three days a week after your workouts or on off days — there’s no equipment required, so that means no excuses!
Why they help: Push-ups are key for strengthening the arms and chest — areas of the body that do more than just go along for the ride when you’re running, says Solkin. "Upper-body strength is important to help you power up hills and take fatigue off the legs," she notes.
How to do it: Begin in a full push-up position, hands on floor under shoulders, legs extended, abs tight, head in line with spine (to modify, keep knees on floor). Lower chest to floor, bending elbows 90 degrees; push back to start and repeat. (You can also do this move on a low wall or park bench.) Start with five push-ups and work your way up to 20.
Why they help: Your core connects your upper and lower body, so strengthening it is crucial to keep you feeling strong mile after mile and preventing injuries, says Solkin.
How to do it: Give the basic crunch an easy makeover by lifting one leg at the same time as you lift your shoulders. You’ll engage more of the abdominal muscles, including both the deep and "six pack" abs. Lie face up with hands behind head, feet on floor and knees bent. Contract your abs and bring your right knee toward your chest as you lift your head, neck, and shoulders off the floor (be sure to use your abdominal muscles, not your hips). Switch sides and repeat. Do 25 reps, working up to two sets of 25.
Why they help: Your legs and butt get you going and power up your runs, but running or walking alone isn’t enough, especially when your weekly mileage begins to add up. This move improves lower-body muscle endurance, plus helps strengthen your abs.
How to do it: Stand with your back against a wall, feet about two to three feet forward. Bend knees 90 degrees, sliding your back down the wall, making sure your knees are aligned over the ankles. Hold here for 30-60 seconds.
Next Training Tip: Keep a Training Log
Originally published on MORE.com, January 2009.