The sun is out and shining in Seattle which means it’s running season. When thinking about running, it’s easy to focus solely on running itself to improve our speed and endurance. To effectively take your running to the next level, cross training should be incorporated into your fitness routine.  These exercises will not only make you a stronger runner, but it will help prevent injuries. Below are some of my favorite exercises to incorporate with running:

  1. Lateral band walks are a great way to activate and strengthen the glutes which is crucial for running. Use these as a warmup exercise or in a circuit with other exercises to really feel the burn! Here’s how to use:
    1. Grab a mini band and place above the ankles or around the balls of your feet.
    2. Start with feet hip distance apart and toes pointing forward. From here, drive with your knee and step to the side.
    3. The other foot will step and return to your starting position (hip-width distance).
    4. Go for reps or for distance and make sure you do both sides.
  2. Deadbugs
    1. Deadbugs are a great exercise for strengthening the core. This exercise requires a neutral spine position while moving your arms and legs, so it is also great for stability and balance.
      1. Lay on your back with your arms straight in the air and legs bent with knees stacked over your hips. Press your low back into the floor to engage your abdominal muscles.
      2. Inhale and extend opposite arm, opposite leg while keeping your low back glued to the floor. Exhale and return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side.
      3. Start by doing two rounds of 8 reps per side and slowly increase the number of reps/sets. Use this as a warmup or as part of your workout.
  3. Glute Bridges
    1. Glute bridges are a great way to build strength and stability in your glutes/hips. Start with your bodyweight and as you get stronger, use bands, single leg variations, or even a barbell to challenge yourself.
      1. To start, lay on your back with your heels about a palm’s distance away from your glutes.
      2. Dig your heels into the ground and raise your hips, squeezing your glutes through the entire movement. Ideally, your hips should be in line with your shoulders at the top with your shins vertical.
      3. Pause at the top and control down to the starting position.
      4. Start with two rounds of 10 reps.
  4. Hamstring Curls
    1. Hamstring strength is crucial to running, but many of us struggle to activate this muscle group. Hamstring curls are a great way to strengthen and activate these muscles and can be done in different ways. Feel free to use a machine, stability ball, or gliders to start. My favorite are gliders.
      1. Lay on your back with your heels on a set of gliders about a palm’s distance away from your glutes. Dig your heels into the ground and squeeze your glutes to come into a glute bridge position.
      2. Slowly extend your legs away from you maintaining tension in the back of your legs. If you are able, keep your hips up and return to the starting position. If this feels too challenging, or you start to feel tension in your lower back, drop your hips to the floor and bring your heels back to the starting position.
      3. Repeat for about 8-10 reps.
Side motion view of young sexy attractive healthy fitness sporty active slim girl with sportswear running in front of the grey wall at night on the street

Try adding one or all of these exercises to your strength routine and see how your runs become stronger and faster!