4 Exercises That Can Make Running Easier

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4 Exercises That Can Make Running Easier

front lunge
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Have you ever struggled during a run and thought to yourself (or maybe even said out loud), "Man, I wish this was easier!"? Well, you can run more comfortably and efficiently by doing some simple exercises a few times a week. Try adding these strengthening moves to your routine.    

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Superman

Superman exercise
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The Superman exercise (named so because you’ll look like Superman flying through the air) strengthens your entire core (abdominals, obliques, lower back) by isolating them as you lift your shoulders and legs off the floor.  Strengthening your core muscles is essential for runners because a strong core helps you stay upright and maintain good, efficient running form. You’ll be less likely to hunch over as you get fatigued during long runs.

How to do the Superman exercise:

1. Lie face down on a mat and extend your arms forward, palms down, and your legs backward. Keep your neck in a neutral position and keep your abdominals contracted.

2.  Lift your arms, head, chest and legs as high as you can get them off the mat. The motion is complete once you can’t raise your arms and legs any farther.

3. Keep your arms and legs straight.

4. Contract your abdominals. 

5. Hold the position for 3-5 seconds.

6. Slowly lower your arms and legs back to the starting position

7. Repeat exercise 5-10 times.

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Front Plank

front plank
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Plank exercises are another excellent way to strengthen your core muscles. Runners with weak core muscles tend to suffer from low back pain during and after runs, and doing planks and other core-strengthening exercises 2-3 times a week can help prevent that.

Here's how to do a front plank:
 

1. Rest on your forearms and make sure that your shoulders are aligned directly over your elbows. Your hands can be palm down or thumbs up, whichever position is more comfortable.

2. Extend your legs straight behind you and rest on your toes, as if you’re about to do a pushup.

3. Make sure you're holding your body in a neutral position and keeping your abdominal muscles engaged. Your goal should be to attain a straight line between your shoulders and toes. Don’t allow your hips or butt to rise up.

4. Hold plank position for 30 seconds. Don't forget to breathe!  Breathe in and out slowly and steadily as you're holding the plank.

Beginner:  If the above exercise is too difficult, try lowering your knees to the ground, so your lower body is supported by your knees rather than your toes.

As you become stronger, you can add 15 more seconds to your plank time. You can also lift up your foot for a few seconds at a time, and keep alternating which foot you pick up.

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Squats

Squat exercise
Adrianna Williams

Squats are a great overall strengthening move for runners because they'll help strengthen your hips, glutes, quads, hamstrings, and even your core.

Here's how to do a squat:
 

1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.

2. Extend your arms out straight, with your palms facing down

3. Bend your knees and push your butt and hips out and down behind you, as if you're about to sit on a chair.

4. Keep your weight on your heels and make sure your knees don’t go past your toes. Your heels should remain on the floor for the entire move.

5. Lower your butt down until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Make sure you keep your torso upright while squatting down.

6. Straighten your legs and squeeze your butt as you come back up to a standing position. Bring your arms to your side on the way up, keeping your shoulders back.

7. Do 3 sets of 15 reps.

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Lunges

front lunge
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The forward lunge is a great exercise for strengthening your quads (front thighs) and glutes. Both muscles work very hard while running and, if they're weak, your other muscles (such as your hip flexors) will have to work harder than necessary.

Here's how to do a front lunge:
 

1. Start by standing with your feet hip to shoulder width apart, and your arms at your sides.

2. Take a big step forward, keeping your upper body as upright and straight as possible.

3. Lunge until your front thigh is parallel to the ground and your back knee is close to the floor.

4. Both knees should be bent at approximately 90 degrees. Make sure your front knee doesn't go past your toes.

5. Look straight ahead, not down.

6. Return back to the standing position, alternate legs and repeat. Do 3 sets of 15 reps on each side.

Advanced:  You can make lunges more challenging by adding light dumbbells.

More Strengthening Moves for Runners:

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