There are lots of reasons to love running, but one of its major plus-points is that it’s free. Apart from the outlay on kit and trainers there’s no subscription, membership or fee to pay before you break into a run the second you step out of your front door.
For me though, running regularly is just one part of the equation and if you want to stay injury free then you need to make sure you are strong and stable. Activate your glutes and quads before a run with a few sets of lunges and squats. Do these movements before you head out of the door to warm up your muscles and get yourself ready to run. These are two big muscle groups and will help you when you pick up the pace – just look at sprinters’ physiques, it’s these muscles that send them flying down the track in 10 seconds and allow them to run with real power.
Lunge to in-step
• Lunge forward with your left leg and place your right hand in line with your left foot
• Take your left elbow and reach down to your left in-step/knee
• Take your left hand outside your left foot and push your hips up to the sky at the same time, drawing your left toe towards your shin.
• Stand up then repeat on your right leg.
Strong abdominal muscles will help stabilise your pelvis and hips; try this before or after you run:
Strengthening your abdominal muscles doesn’t always need to be about crunches. Instead try this breathing protocol:
• In an all-fours position or on your back, take a big, deep breath from the belly and slowly exhale. Focus on drawing your belly to your spine at the end of every breath.
The lower back can sometimes bear the brunt of the impact of running so keep it supple with this stretch:
Single knee to chest
• Lie on your back and bend one knee up and into the chest.
• Make sure the other leg is in contact with the floor at all times.
• Repeat on the other side.
Your VMO (vastus medialis oblique) muscle is designed to stabilise your knee, so keeping this strong is crucial if you’re pounding the pavement regularly. Try:
Heel raised squats
• On your heels stand on a raised surface – a weight plate of a wobble board, for example.
• Squat down to full range making sure you get your bum as close to the ground as possible.
• The end range is when you feel the VMO kick in.
The stronger all of these muscles are the more you will enjoy your run and you’ll become a stronger, more powerful runner.