Strengthening your running chassis

Recreational runners

If you’ve been running for a while and have never managed to experience an injury or suffer from some niggles due to the wear and tear the typical runner incurs then I would probably say you are a quite fortunate or just plain lucky. Well done and keep on going as you are doing well. For some to be a runner is to constantly carry some sort of grievance like a badge of honor. How many times do you hear from a fellow runner how in pain they are after their usual long run and brag about it?

Most recreational runners unfortunately choose to run through the pain and hope it will run itself out or it will go away. Unless you are an active competitor I don’t see the point. For me at my age I can’t afford to get injured as the recovery will not only be long but will carry over to my work and life activities. Like most injuries you should do everything possible to prevent  them, in my case I choose to reduce my chances by incorporating an all over resistance training program that provides me with a balanced regime allowing me to particularly target the hip and leg region in building up a strong and durable running chassis.

Weight training for runners

In the past it was thought of that adding some weight training will bulk you up and slow you down. Fortunately for us we are now in a better position with education and experience that this is not entirely true. It is if you are training to simply pack on mass/muscle, say with a powerlifting or bodybuilding program then you will be slowed down due to the inactive additional mass you have to carry. However in taking a more proactive approach and embracing a complete strength and conditioning program in assisting your passion of running, it will strengthen the skeletal and muscular system and turn you into a more resilient runner. This means that you can enjoy your passion for running. Nothing better than knowing you can tackle the last klms felling stronger through the hips and legs as opposed to being in survival mode and crossing the finish line a wreck.

Here’s a few of my chosen movement that I’ve incorporated into my own and running clients full body programming.

  • Trap bar deadlifts – The one movement that I prefer in the programming of runners is this classic floor pull movement. It works the Quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings together in the execution and compared to the more technically difficult barbell deadlift is kinder on the spinal loading and more comfortable to execute. It’s also easier to teach and allows for greater reps to be performed compared to the Barbell Deadlift and Olympic lifting variations. Remember this lift was chosen for the runner in complimenting their program, not the pure strength trainer. In addition it can also be performed for higher repetitions.
  • Single leg deadlift (SLDL) – In complimenting the trap bar deadlift the next exercise I add is the SLDL as it target the Hamstrings, Glutes & Lower back. An excellent compound (intermediate level) Strength movement. My weapon of choice here is working the two kettlebells as they are easier to hold and assist with the balancing of the movement required. The feedback I get from this little gem is that the glutes get worked solid and walking around for a few days later seems challenging. (Ladies take note!) The other is that it toughens up the ankle and helps with balance. The additional loading of the lower back within the overall movement allows the posterior chain to develop fully and adding value to the movement as running, without the constant (concrete/bitumen) compounding of the joints during a run.
  • Kettlebell Front squats – These are by far my favourite movement for the active runner. The front rack positioning of the Kettlebells once learned allows for a more upright posture development whilst targeting the quadriceps muscles during the squat. This front positioning allows for a deeper squat technique, is easier on the shoulder loading and ensures your core is activated due to the stabilizing required and guarantees it receives a solid hit out. All up an excellent movement for runners compared to the barbell squat less the wrist flexibility required in performance. Once again the choice was for the runner, not the future Olympic lifter.

As previously mentioned the above 3 have been selected in complimenting the runner who has decided to either integrate a more specific workout of just looking at starting up a resistance program and needing where to start. After all you are a runner first and a weight trainer later.

Just to finish off it would be remiss of me if I didn’t as a Personal trainer mentioned that an all over body program is the ideal way in training your body and I would never recommend a pure upper body or Lower body program and disregard a more balanced approach. As a bare minimum and for the sake of balance both the Military press and Chin ups should be added. These two movements are not directly running related but will go a long way in adding upper body strength and balance to the lower body component, from a structural point of view they are a must.

Please ensure that before participating in any resistance program you are familiar with the techniques and are in an environment where professional guidance is available. The last thing you want is to incur an injury from the very program that you started in order to prevent them in the first place.

Happy Running.

Claudefit is an active runner who also balances own resistance training program for a fuller delivery of working out time.

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