Back to the gym
Tom’s five go-to exercises for strength and mobility
Tom Evans, second in the recent the England Athletics Virtual 5k Road Champs has these great runner-friendly exercises.
The good thing with core and leg exercises, is whether you're a beginner, an intermediate or an expert, the exercises can be the same and 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 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 really good and that's probably the best exercise to do, because you can modify the time and you can do it on your knees, or you can do it on your hands or on your elbows
- Ankle touches are where you do a bit of a sit up and then just touch each ankle leaning side to side. And that's really good for helping your obliques, the side of your core - so good 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 good for full body coverage - as it really helps to just build explosive power predominantly through your glutes.
- Rear foot elevated lunge are really going to work on your quads - which is really 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 my calf and ankles - I do a couple of exercises:
- Single leg or a 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 groups 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 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 actually you're doing six minutes a day for a year, that's a lot time balancing. And you're going to see improvements pretty much the whole time, which is what everyone's looking for.