Running Exercises Tips

Read these 18 Running Exercises Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Running tips and hundreds of other topics.

Running Exercises Tips has been rated 3.4 out of 5 based on 528 ratings and 1 user reviews.

Consistent Hip Stretching Equals More Comfortable Marathons

Ok, running a marathon is not anyone's idea of comfortable. But regular hip stretches can help mitigate the stiffness that often kicks in between miles 20 and 26.2, when your legs and hips realize that you have been out there running for a while. See the exercise section of the website for more stretches, but try this one:

Sit on the floor. Extend your legs in a V - shape. Bend forward from your waist as much as you can. Reach your arms out between your leg. Hold for 30 seconds.

Benefit: Hip and groin stretches help make running easier, especially at the end of long runs, and they can improve your overall flexibility, which can help prevent injuries.


Don't Forget Your Upper Body

As a runner, why should you stretch your arms? It's your legs that count, right? Not so fast. Whether you are training for a marathon or running for fitness, strong arms and shoulders help you run faster and more efficiently.

If you can stretch your arms and shoulders as part of your running exercise routine, you will notice a difference in how flexible you feel during long runs and races.

But upper body stretching doesn't need to be complicated. Try this easy shoulder stretch: Stretch your arms straight up over your head, then rotate your palms so they face out. Hold for 10 seconds. This will stretch your outer shoulders, which are especially likely to be stiff if you spend a lot of time at the computer.


Enhance Your Hamstring Stretches

As most runners know, but we sometimes forget, the quads and hamstrings are opposing muscle groups. When you tighten your quads, you relax your hamstrings, and vice versa.

As I have learned from yoga classes, it's you can often get a better stretch in a muscle that is slightly warmed up. Before you stretch your hamstrings, stand up straight, then bend your knees slightly, as if you were going to sit in a chair. Your quads should be active, which means that your hamstrings are relaxing. Hold this position for 30 seconds, then try doing your regular hamstring stretches.


More Evidence that Exercise Benefits Pregnant Women

Good news for running moms-to-be: A new study from New Zealand showed that women who rode a stationary bike for 40 minutes up to 5 times a week had babies who were an average of 5 ounces lighter than non-exercising mothers, but all the babies were of a healthy weight. These findings suggest that exercising doesn't take nutrients away from the fetus.

It's important to talk to your doctor about exercising while pregnant, but if you are already a runner or otherwise active, you should be able to continue with a modified version of your regular routine for much of your pregnancy. Other research suggests that women who exercise during pregnancy are more comfortable during pregnancy and during labor.

So talk to your doctor, but pregnancy doesn't mean that you have to hang up your running shoes for nine months.


Don't Neglect Your Back

When you think of running injuries, back pain isn't usually what comes to mind. But keeping your back strong helps with overall core strength, and that's what can help pull you through those last miles of the marathon. If you don't already have some back exercises in your stretching and strengthening routine, try this simple stretch, sometimes called the Cobra Pose or Sphinx Pose in yoga classes:

-Lie on your stomach (on a rug, towel or mat.

-Place your forearms flat on the floor, with your elbows lined up under your shoulders, as you press down on your forearms and raise your head, shoulders, and upper torso. Keep your stomach muscles relaxed.

-Hold for 10-20 seconds and lower back to the floor. Start with one rep, and repeat 2-3 times once or twice a week, or as desired, as you feel more comfortable with the position.

You should feel a gentle stretch in your lower back.


Post-Marathon Cross-Training: Try Yoga

A few days after a marathon, you might be so stiff that getting out of a chair is a workout. But within a week or so, try doing some easy yoga. If you have a regular yoga practice, ease back in, and you'll be helping yourself on the road to marathon recovery.

If you haven't done yoga before, consider using your post-marathon time to try out an easy class. Don't push yourself to the point of pain, but focus on lengthening and loosening your muscles. Sometimes the time right after a marathon when you aren't training as hard is a great time to test out some new cross training that might help you improve your time in your next marathon.


Calf Stretch

Helps prevent calf pulls and Achilles tendonitis.

Stand about 12” from a wall, with your hands on the wall at shoulder height. Step backwards with one foot, so that the toe of that foot is even with the heel of your forward foot. Lean in towards the wall while bending the forward knee. Keep the rearward knee straight and the rearward foot flat on the floor. Hold this position for 30 seconds. Gently bend the rearward knee – still keeping the rearward foot flat on the floor - and hold for 30 seconds. Do two or three repetitions on each side.


Toe Raises

Helps prevent shin splints.

Stand on a raised surface with your heels. The rest of your foot should be over the edge. Keeping your heels on the surface, raise your toes up towards your shins as far as possible. Hold for about two seconds, and lower your toes. Do five to ten repetitions.


Hamstring Stretch

There are many hamstring stretches, and it doesn't matter which one or ones you do, but in my experience it is helpful to incorporate some hamstring stretching into your pre-run routine. The evidence is unclear as to whether stretching really will prevent hamstring pulls, but you can't go wrong with a stretch or two. Try this one: Lie on the floor on your back, with legs straight. As you slowly raise one leg, grasp it with both hands just below the knee. Keeping leg straight, raise it to 90° - or as close as you can comfortably come. Hold for 30 seconds. Release, and repeat on the opposite side. Do two or three on each side.


Foot Press

Strengthens quadriceps. Helps prevent runner's knee and shin splints.

In a lying or sitting position, place the front half of one foot on the other. Pull up with the lower foot, while pushing down with the upper foot. Maintain pressure for ten seconds. Do five on each side.


Side Leg Raises

Helps prevent iliotibial band syndrome.

Lie on your side, with your upper leg straight and your lower leg bent slightly at the knee. Place your upper hand on the floor in front of your chest for support. Slowly raise the upper leg as high as comfortably possible, then lower it again slowly. Do two or three sets of ten repetitions on each side.


Knee Lifts

Help prevent lower back pain.

Lie on the floor on your back, with your arms straight down at your sides. Slowly pull your knees up to your chest, and then slowly return to the starting position. Do ten repetitions.


Wall Slides

Strengthens quadriceps. Helps prevent runner's knee.

Stand with your back against the wall, and your feet about eight inches from the wall, shoulder-width apart. Slowly lower yourself about 1/3 of the way down, and hold for ten seconds. Slowly return to your starting position. Do ten repetitions.


Cross Training

Participating in other sports can enhance your running performance, and help you stay fit when you're unable to run. For example, many injured runners maintain fitness levels by swimming. Their muscles get a good workout, but without the pounding associated with running.

Another good reason to cross-train is less costly recovery. Most runners need to significantly reduce their training immediately after a marathon or other grueling event. However, by cycling instead of running, they can maintain their fitness level, while not stressing overtaxed muscles.


Downward Dog

This yoga position stretches the lower back, calves, hamstrings and shoulders.

Start on the floor on your hands and knees. Your hands should be under your shoulders, and your feet flexed with toes on the floor about hip-width apart. Gently raise your buttocks, shifting your weight towards your feet, until your body is in an inverted “V” position. (It isn't necessary that your feet end up flat on the floor, but they should be as close to it as comfortably possible. Hold the “V” position for 60 – 90 seconds, and slowly return to the starting position.


Why Exercise When You Already Run?

There are three good reasons to add exercises to your running regimen. First, certain exercises can help you prevent - or recover from - injury. For example, over pronation can lead to painful runner's knee. A combination of appropriate running shoes and exercise can help alleviate the problem.

Second, exercise and gentle stretching help promote flexibility. Many injuries result from tight, inflexible muscles. And inflexibility hampers performance. Simply put, you'll run better if you're flexible.

Finally, running builds certain muscle groups, but neglects others. Exercises can strengthen the neglected muscles, promoting overall physical balance.


Resistance Training for Runners

Resistance (weight) training offers several benefits for runners, including injury prevention and improved performance. Exercises that target the same muscles used in running – such as one-legged squats and high bench step-ups – have been used for years both to enhance performance and to promote recovery from injury. Studies also show that stronger muscles are less prone to injury – and tend to be injured to a lesser degree when injury does occur.

Weight training can be a valuable enhancement to any running program. However, it can only be effectively taught in person. If you are injured, prone to injury or desire improved performance, consider consulting with a certified personal trainer.


Side Plank Strengthens Legs and Core

Build up strength in your glutes and your core at the same time with the side plank, a yoga pose that is great cross-training for runners.

Here's how to do it:

-Start in a plank position, also known as a high pushup.

-Rotate to the right, so you are balancing on your right hand, and spin your feet so you are balancing on the outside edge of your right foot, with your left foot stacked directly on top of it. If this is too challenging at first, bend your right knee and place it on the floor.

-Regardless of foot position, the goal is to extend your left arm toward the ceiling, and to keep your left hip raised as high as you can.

-Hold for 10-20 seconds. Switch sides.

As you get stronger, you should be able to raise the top leg a few inches, while balancing on one hand and the side of the bottom foot.

Not finding the advice and tips you need on this Running Tip Site? Request a Tip Now!

Guru Spotlight
Heidi Splete
Buy My Book