One of the most commonly neglected areas of endurance training would have to be strength and conditioning workouts. In busy lives, it is easy just to put on the shoes and rush out the doors. It doesn’t have to be a main focus of the marathon training program, but it is an essential ingredient. I am currently performing S&C workouts twice a week, exercising around 30-45 minutes.
My reasoning is this: to go faster than I have ever gone before, I need to hold good running form for as long as possible. Once you start to fatigue, the weak links will start to affect your stride length and cadence. This may start to overload certain areas resulting in the dreaded cramping, that has reduced me to an undignified shuffle on more than one occasion.
The obvious solution is to make sure your lower quadrants (hamstrings, glutes and calves) are as strong as possible. Of course one needs to address the upper body in any workout so you can ‘run tall with good posture’.
The best bit is these exercises don’t require any equipment. If you are carrying out functional movements, using only your body weight, that will suffice. This makes the strength and conditioning workout very easy and versatile. The exercises I use are well known and easily found on-line:
- Heel Raises
- Side Planks
- Mountain Climber
- Russian Twists
- Hamstring curls
These exercises don’t require a gym and they don’t require metal to be pushed around, although they can be complemented with Theraband or Physio-balls.
The best possible outcome will be a core of steel, with all the running muscles strong on the short, fast stuff and the long, steady stuff. I need to be well trained in speed and endurance. In addition these exercises should prevent injuries common to runners, including low back pain, knee pain, shin splints, calf tears etc.
One has to dream big to reach the stars. On the 22nd April, hopefully there will be a Boston Qualifier waiting at the finish line.