Back to the gym
Tom’s five go-to mobility and strength training for runners
Tom Evans, second in the recent the England Athletics Virtual 5k Road Champs has these great strength exercises for runners.
The good thing with core and leg exercises is that they work for runners of any ability. Each of these bodyweight exercises for runners can be easily adjusted so you just do them for longer and with slight variations. Instead of doing single leg raises, you do double legs.
Or if you're doing a plank, you take one foot off the ground or one hand off the ground and then lower it back down. For the core, there are three basic exercises I like to do:
- For your core and overall body, a plank is probably the best strength exercise for runners. This is because you can modify the time and you can do it on your knees. If you want to simplify further you can do it on your hands or on your elbows
- One of the best strength exercises for runners is ankle touches. Ankle touches are where you do a bit of a sit up and then just touch each ankle leaning side to side. This is great for helping your obliques, the side of your core - perfect if you're dodging between people or trees in the path.
- Leg raises - and you could do that one leg at a time, or both legs. And that's really good because you can do it with the opposite arm and opposite leg at the same time.
For overall leg coverage:
- Squats are a good bodyweight exercise for runners looking to get a full body coverage. It really helps to just build explosive power predominantly through your glutes.
- Rear foot elevated lunges are really going to work on your quads. This is important as that helps to replicate downhill running. So, when you're on the trails and you need that stability from your knee into your hip, going through your quads.
For calves and ankles - I have a couple of strength exercises for runners:
- Single leg or double leg calf raises - these are so important for explosive power and for speed. They're a fundamental muscle group that you use when you're climbing and doing hill reps. It's a small muscle group and the more you can train it, the more robust it's going to be and the more sort of power and output you'll be able to put through it. That will then make you a better runner.
- I do a lot of balance work for strengthening my feet and my ankles. Each day I spend 6 minutes using a balance board by my sink - I brush my teeth for three minutes. So that's 90 seconds on each leg I stand on, and I do that twice a day. In a day or in a week that doesn't make much of a difference but if you're doing six minutes a day for a year, that's a lot of time balancing. And you're going to see improvements pretty much the whole time, which is what everyone's looking for.