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Strength and conditioning

Strength and conditioning

Trust us, if you aren't doing any strength & conditioning work, you are not maximising your potential as an athlete.

Trust us, if you aren't doing any strength & conditioning work, you are not maximising your potential as an athlete.

Strength

Let’s talk first about Strength. For us, we want to think of strength as the amount of force or pressure a muscle group can produce. To run quickly, we need to produce a large amount of force against the ground (in a very short period of time!). 

There are 4 types of strength, Maximum, Relative, Explosive and Reactive. As a runner, we want to focus on Relative Strength rather than Maximum Strength. Relative strength is the maximum force you can generate per kg of body weight. We need to look at both Reactive Strength and Explosive Strength. Explosive Strength will encourage you to leave the ground with a high amount of force over a very short period of time, and Reactive Strength allows you to use the elastic properties of tendons and connective tissue to produce force.

If that is strength training, then what is conditioning?

We look at Conditioning as exercises that condition the body to be fit for purpose (to run!). Under conditioning we have:

  • Stretching & Mobility Work
  • Foam Rolling
  • Running Drills
  • Capacity Building Exercises for muscle groups (Core, Calf, Hamstring and Glutes)

What is key to remember with Strength and Conditioning work is we are all unique and have different needs. Just because you've seen a routine that an elite athlete does, doesn't mean it is appropriate for you (most of the time the exercises they are suggesting are so advanced you are just going to fail to do them correctly). You need to know your strengths and weakness and have a routine that is designed to work on them.

Dynamic Stretching

Always remember to do 5 to 10 mins of dynamic stretching before you start running if you can. This will help to increase your range of motion to allow faster, easier running. It will also reduce the risk of injury. The video below should help remind you.

Post Run Static Stretching

Remember to do this after your run once you’ve got into the warm and have showered. This will help you relax after your run and in my own experience help to reduce the risk of injury. 

Where static stretches will be of benefit is to do after a run. These stretches won't improve mobility but will prevent the sensation of tightness you get after a run (by returning the muscles to normal resting length) and improve blood flow - aiding recovery. 

Our key post run stretches are:

 

Adopt a lunge position. Pull your posture tall and keep lower back flat. Push forwards and slightly down, and feel a stretch across the front of your hip.

Sit against a wall with your back in a neutral position. Pull the soles of your feet together and have your knees pointed outwards. Pull your heels close to you or push down on your knees to increase the intensity of the stretch.

Lie on your back and lift one leg towards you, ensuring your knee remains straight. Use a piece of rope or towel to hold the leg. Change the focus of the stretch by putting a slight bend in your knee

Stand half a stride back from a wall. Hold on for balance. Place one leg forwards and one slightly back. Keeping your back heel on the ground, bend the back leg until your feel a stretch in your calf.

Kneel down on a soft surface, pull your toes tight to your shins so you are resting on your knees and balls of your feet. Increase the intensity of the stretch by resting more of your weight through your heels

Hold each stretch for 20 - 30 seconds, and do the routine twice over. 

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