Tag Archives: ankle weights

Strength training for runners

While going for a long, pleasant joggle in the wintry woods north of the Big Apple yesterday, I was very mindful of how much of a better joggler I am because I strength train my legs. Hills for instance aren’t a big deal and I actually enjoy them, even the steep, rocky ones that make me drop balls.

For some strange reason, many runners do little to no strength training of their legs. A few I’ve known even seem to be hostile to the idea, seeing themselves as cardio purists who scoff at the idea of doing strength training exercise. This is unfortunate, since this may increase the risk of various injuries, besides making hills more difficult.

Strength training the legs is as simple as strapping some ankle weights around your ankles, and doing leg lifts while lying on the floor on your back. If you have access to a gym, there are so many other things you can do to strengthen your legs. And this only needs to be done 2 to 3 times a week.

This takes care of most of your lower body muscles, except for the hips. Runner’s World had a great article on hip-strengthening exercises a few years ago – All in the Hips

The resistance band exercises the Runner’s World article recommends are very helpful. I used to forget to exercise my hips, but I find I can go up rocky hills faster now due to regularly exercising my hip muscles. I even came close to spraining my ankle yesterday while joggling through a rocky wooded area. I think my strong hip muscles may have prevented it from getting worse.

This study suggests doing hip exercises can prevent injury – Hip muscle weakness and overuse injuries in recreational runners.’

CONCLUSIONS:

Although no cause-and-effect relationship has been established, this is the first study to show an association between hip abductor, adductor, and flexor muscle group strength imbalance and lower extremity overuse injuries in runners. Because most running injuries are multifaceted in nature, areas secondary to the site of pain, such as hip muscle groups exhibiting strength imbalances, must also be considered to gain favorable outcomes for injured runners. The addition of strengthening exercises to specifically identified weak hip muscles may offer better treatment results in patients with running injuries.

Iron juggling

I already mentioned how I use resistance bands for strength training, using them primarily for upper body exercise, while also doing push-ups, and bicycle crunches.

Here are some other things I use for strength(or resistance) training:

Use a walker to do dips: Just like the dip bars at the gym, you can use a walker to do the same thing. Great for improving upper body strength.

Juggle with heavy balls: These balls are tennis balls that were stuffed with pennies and sealed shut with epoxy and duct tape. Not only do they help strength train the muscles used for juggling, their weight may also make a deeper imprint on muscle memory so that I juggle better. They weigh 1 pound each, which isn't much but after several minutes it does get tiring.

Juggle with heavy balls: These balls are tennis balls that were stuffed with pennies and sealed shut with epoxy and duct tape. Not only do they help strengthen the muscles used for juggling, their weight may also make a deeper imprint on muscle memory so that I juggle better. They weigh 1 pound each, which isn’t much but after several minutes it does get tiring.

Ankle weights: A necessity for building strength in the legs for runners. But they shouldn’t be used while running, that can increase the risk of injury. This is the All-Pro brand, I’ve had them for almost 10 years and they have served me well. The velcro has deteriorated a bit unfortunately, but it’s not a major problem.

Medicine ball: This helps build explosiveness, especially when you throw it. You can also do a variety of lifts with this to help build ab muscles. I made this myself, it’s just a basketball full of sand. It weighs about 23 lbs.

IMG_0676

Hand exerciser: Jogglers need to have strong hands!
If anyone has any recommendations for equipment or strength-training exercises, please let me know.