By Soji James, CPT, CSCS
Running is one of the most economically savvy ways of breaking into the fitness game. The entry-level necessities required to hit the streets are minimal: a pair of comfortable sneakers and a growth mindset. The thing is, once you get deeper into running, you realize one thing pretty quickly: running isn’t just about running. The activity itself can be unforgiving on your bones and joints as they log heavy mileage, and if all you do is run, you may find that all of your initial gains fizzle out as your body maximizes its current potential.
If you are looking to become a better runner, or looking for a way to avoid injury, then you need to strength train. Performing compound strength movements increases your structural fitness so that your body is better prepared to handle the rigor of pounding the pavement. It also improves your work capacity, to give you that extra surge needed to break through your old personal record.
The #1and1way is about striving for and achieving the best version of yourself, so here are 3 strength moves to add to your current routine. You can even do all of them outdoors if you prefer; all you need is a kettlebell. If you don’t have one already, I recommend the kettlebells from REP Fitness:
Check out this Kettlebell Fat Burning Workout
1) KB Split Squat Jumps
Plyometrics have been shown to improve force production and enhance running economy by decreasing the amount of energy you use while running. The KB Split Squat Jump will train you to push off the ground with greater force, which will lead to greater speed.
Holding a light kettlebell by your chest, descend into a lunge position with the back knee off the ground and your front thigh parallel to the floor. Begin the motion by explosively driving off the balls of your feet and jumping as high as you can. Land and absorb the shock of the jump by softly returning to the starting position. If your up for the challenge and want to make the move a little more difficult, switch the position of your feet when you jump into the air.
2) Overhead Kettlebell March
This movement may seem simple, but the instability it causes forces your core to work double time to keep your trunk upright and stable. Increased core control in this dynamic fashion helps you keep your form intact while supporting your stride. This all leads to a better run when it’s time to lace up your sneakers.
Hold a light kettlebell in an inverted position in one hand. Press the kettlebell overhead so that your arm is completely straight. March in place, while keeping your chest tall, core engaged, knees high and toes pointed towards the ceiling.
3) KB Eccentric Runner’s Deadlifts
Add a focus on eccentrics to your workout to become a more injury resistant and efficient runner. Eccentrics can help increase range of motion, while enhancing size and strength. It can also prepare you to handle the dreaded Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness that usually comes with downhill running.
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and assume a staggered stance position. Slightly bend both knees, and initiate the movement by driving back at your hips to perform a deadlift. With the eccentric focus, I want you to slowly descend toward the ground, taking 5 seconds. Pause at the bottom, then squeeze your glutes to explode back up to the starting position. Perform the prescribed reps on both sides.