Reducing your race time by as much as physically possible should be a major goal for all serious runners in training. Knocking a few seconds off your personal best in a 5 kilometer race, or minutes off your half marathon or marathon record, can help your motivation to keep improving, and depending on your level will help you jump up the finishing leader-board.
As a runner you are no doubt putting in the miles on a weekly basis. This is great, but I have found that the majority of runners overlook two essential ingredients in their training plans – strength and resistance. By adding these to your existing training program (without over training) you could see dramatic results. Below is a 4 exercise workout which I suggest you complete once per week minimum for 12 weeks prior to your race(s):-
ONE-LEG SQUATS (3 sets of 10 repetitions – each leg) Description: Hold a barbell,without weights, across your shoulders. Raise your left leg out directly in front of you,then lower down until your butt is level or below your knee. Slowly rise up to start position. Do this 10 times, and on the 10th rep hold the position for 5 seconds. Alternate legs doing 3 sets of 10 reps on each leg. This exercise will blitz your glutes, giving you the explosive power you previously lacked.
HAMSTRING BALL CURLS (5 sets of 10 repetitions) Lye on a mat placing both your feet (heels) on a gym / yoga ball. Keeping your shoulders flat against the mat, lift your body off the floor by pressing against the gym ball with your heels (thus using hamstrings).Pulling your legs towards your back, roll the ball towards you and then back.This is one repetition. Complete 5 sets of 10 reps. This exercise will strengthen your hamstrings, key to running correctly with the correct stride length.
WEIGHT LIFTS (5 sets of 20 repetitions) Complete alternate dumbell curls at a fast speed, but with good form and a comfortable weight. keep your arms in front of you and complete straight smooth curls. 5 sets of 20 curls to be completed in each workout. Runners often neglect arms, but your arm speed is directly linked to your leg speed. Create the driving strength in your upper body which will perfect your running style.
STEPPING-UP (5 sets of 90 seconds each) Using a bench or raised surface, step so your knee is at a 90 degrees. Bring the other leg up to the same position, returning to the start position in the same order. Do this non-stop for 90 seconds and repeat 5 times. This exercise, done regularly, will activate crucial nerves which are used in the motion of running, thus reducing the risk of injury.
Remember to add the above workout into your regular training plan and complete a minimum of once a week, ideally 2 – 3 times.