Running is a deceptively complicated exercise. At first glance, it seems fairly simple: just put one foot in front of the other at an accelerated rate than traditional walking. However, there are a number of mechanical processes that take place in the human body during the running process.
This can be seen as both a positive and a negative. The positive aspect of this is the fact that running offers fantastic health benefits that can increase the length and improve the quality of an individual’s life. The negative side to this fact is that the potential for injury is high, as are the potential body parts that can become injured.
The best way to prevent running injuries, improve your running performance, and increase your enjoyment of running is to supplement your running routine with other exercises. After all, effective and enjoyable running requires three physical attributes: muscle strength, tendon flexibility, and cardiovascular health.
In order to help you get the most out of each running session, here are some classic exercises that can improve all three of these physical attributes.
If you can only do one exercise on this list, make it this one. A squat is a complicated movement that engages your core, glutes, quads, and calves if performed correctly. It’s the most efficient workout for increasing strength in all of these muscle groups and it can be done without any equipment whatsoever.
To perform a basic squat, begin by standing upright with your back straight. Space your feet about the same width as your shoulders. Then, lower your upper body while keeping your upper body in the same position. You should bend your legs until your knees are above your hips. Then, raise your upper body in a controlled movement until you return to the beginning position. Perform ten to twelve repetitions for one set and try to do three to five sets for one session.
There are countless variations to the typical bodyweight squat that can target different muscle groups or enhance its difficulty. If the basic squat is too easy for you, try wrapping a resistance band around your lower legs or adding weight by holding a dumbbell or kettlebell.
Standing Calf Stretch
One of the most common running injuries is Achilles tendonitis, a painful condition that afflicts the tendons near the runner’s calves. A bad case of this injury can put you out of commission for weeks, so you’ll want to perform regular stretches as a preventative measure.
The standing calf stretch is very effective at preventing this injury from occurring. To perform this exercise, stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. Place one foot in front of your body and your other foot behind. Then, keep your upper body straight and lean toward your forward-facing leg in a lunge movement, bending your front leg while keeping your rear leg straight. Hold this position for ten to fifteen seconds and then slowly return to the starting position. Switch the position of your legs and repeat the movement.
While this stretch won’t guarantee that you won’t experience Achilles tendonitis, it can drastically reduce your chances. For the best results, perform this stretch before each running session. If you want to increase the intensity of this stretch, wrap a resistance band between your legs.
Using a jump rope is a fantastic way to improve cardiovascular ability, which can have a direct effect on your running performance. Additionally, jumping rope can strengthen your calves to a more significant degree than performing squats. Best of all is the fact that a decent jump rope won’t cost very much money and the exercise can be performed almost anywhere.
The key to a successful jump rope workout is to maintain a consistent rhythm and perform the exercise uninterrupted for a long enough period of time to get your heart pumping. A good beginner’s workout involves jumping with both feet for sixty seconds and then resting for thirty seconds. After this, jump with alternating feet for another sixty seconds and then rest for another thirty seconds.
Keep performing sixty-second/thirty-second sets with different techniques, such as jumping from side to side or jumping with only one foot at a time. Five or six sessions should be sufficient for one workout session, but you may want to try extending the length of time jumping rope by another thirty to sixty seconds to increase the intensity.
These exercises are far from the most effective when it comes to improving your running performance. However, they are a fantastic starting point for newbies who want to develop positive running habits. You should notice positive results within a month of regularly performing these exercises, both on the running track and in your day-to-day life. Now, get out there and hit the pavement!