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Conditioning exercises designed to improve physical conditioning to improve running efficiency, and reduce impact to prevent injury

Always take any existing injuries or known weaknesses into account when attempting these drills

HOP HOP HOPSCOTCH

Running is, in its basic form, an extended series of hops from one leg to the other.

This drill will hopefully feel familiar and will help you improve your balance and practice using the big running muscles in your glutes and hamstrings. Hopping may feel quite easy to do, but if you really concentrate on trying to co-ordinate your movements and keeping your body in an upright position, it will hopefully help your running.

Mark out a clear straight about 20-30m long using lampposts, spare shoes, end of the road or parents.

Start in a standing position with your feet at hip width. Lift up your left foot behind you so you are standing on your right leg only. Then lower your body bending at hip knee and ankle then push off in an upwards direction coordinating all three joints in sequence hip knee ankle to move forward, repeat the lowering motion as you land and then the pushing off motion again. Hop until you reach the end of your marked straight then walk back and repeat using the left leg walk back again and then from a standing position with your feet at hip width, start off with a right foot hop but land on two feet, jump off using both legs together and land on your left leg, hop off using this leg and again land on both feet, jump off using two legs and land on your right foot and repeat this sequence (hopscotch) all the way through to the end of your marked lane.

Repeat all three of these 5 times each, making sure you keep concentrating on coordinating your leg motion to get a nice smooth hopping motion with your upper body stable and balanced.

BIRD DOG

This exercise will help you work on your balance and strengthen your abdominal muscles, lower back and the big running muscles in your glutes and hamstrings. It can feel quite easy to do, but if your really concentrate on keeping your form and holding the stretched position you will realise its not as easy as it looks. Remember to try not to wobble.

Get onto all fours with knees hip-width apart and your hands firmly placed on the ground about shoulder-width apart. Brace (tense) your tummy muscles

When you feel ready lift and extend your right arm arm out straight in front and extend the opposite (left) leg behind you. You should form one straight line from your hand to your foot, keeping hips squared to the ground. If your low back begins to sag, raise your leg only as high as you can while keeping your back straight.

Hold for a few seconds then return your hands and knees to the starting position and then repeat with the other arm and leg. Keep repeating this with alternate arms/legs for 1 minute (or as long as you can) then rest for a couple of minutes and repeat the exercise another two times.

FORWARD AND REVERSE LUNGES

Tips: The video is a good demonstration, try to keep your hips level and it helps to maintain a low, forward-facing posture with a straight back (not rounded)

First try a forward lunge:
1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
1. Step forwards with one leg into a long stride and lower into a lunge by bending both knees and keeping your posture upright. Try to keep your shin vertical so that your knee directly above your toes.
1. Hold this position for at least a second or two controlling your balance to try and avoid wobbling from side to side
1. Push down through your front heel to return to standing.
1. Repeat by stopping forward with the opposite leg into another long stride.

You might find it helpful to keep your back and shoulders upright and your chin up and head facing forward.

Next try the REVERSE LUNGE (Very similar to the forward lunge but you step backwards)
1. Stand with feet hip-width apart, then step backwards with your right leg until your knees are at 90-degree angles – your right knee should be pointing towards the ground, your left knee should be in line with your toes.
1. Hold this position for at least a second or two again trying to avoid wobbling from side to side
1. Push yourself forward to the start position and repeat with your left leg.

Try doing 6 reps have a rest then 6 of the other, and then repeat this so you do 24 lunges in total.

If you can do both of these try adding a knee drive to the reverse lunge, where instead of returning to standing you drive your back leg through until your thigh is parallel to the ground and your toes flexed upwards. If using the knee drive you will need to repeat the exercise using the same leg for 5 reps and then switch legs.

The main aim in this drill is to control your movement, so don’t rush but really concentrate on completing the exercise smoothly and accurately.

RUNNING ARMS

On Wednesday we did a drill that helped build your legs. Today we are going to focus on arms.

When we run we want to use our arm swing to provide balance and rhythm to our running. Before we get to the drill here are a few key pointers for arm swing.

1. Move opposite arm with opposite leg

2. Keep your hands and shoulders relaxed

3. Bend the elbows to about 90 degrees and keep fixed.. Move you hands from your pocket up towards chest height

4. Swing the arms back and forth in a straight line so that your hands do not cross in front of your body.

5. Drive back with the elbows, not forwards with the hands

The Running Arm drill is to practice this movement.

Stand in a running postion with one foot in front of the other, upright posture and head up and looking forwards. Then move your arms as if running for 30 seconds, focussing on maintaining good consistent movement, driving backwards and not crossing the body. Then take a rest and repeat another 4 times, trying to get faster each time but maintaining good form.

A good tip is to do this in front of a mirror or to have someone stand either in front or behind you to check that you are keeping good form.

STEP UP with KNEE DRIVE

You will need a sturdy box, bench or chair.

Starting with you right foot step up on to the bench and as you plant your foot, drive with your left foot bringing your knee up until it is parallel with the floor, hold that position for as long as it takes to say potato. Then lower your left leg back down and step back onto the floor. Repeat on the other side. Try to coordinate your arms with the step ups opposite arm to opposite leg.

Give this a try for 5 sets of 10 steps ups with each leg with a rest in between each set and remember to focus on doing it correctly not speed

SQUAT WALKING

Position your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees as close to a right angle as you can comfortably manage and move into a half-squat position as if sitting down.

Keep your feet in line with your shoulders and face forward with your body weight evenly distributed over both feet, and push your arms out for balance.

Maintaining this position start to walk forwards for 10 to 15 steps, then reverse and try and walk backwards for 10 to 15 steps. Have a short rest and repeat this another 2 times (so 3 in all).

Then getting into the same position walk sideways for 10 to 15 steps then stop and walk back sideways in the other direction. Have a short rest and repeat this another 2 times (so 3 in all).

Tips: The video is a good demonstration, try to keep your hips level and it helps to maintain a low, forward-facing posture with a straight back (not rounded)

WALKING HIGH KNEES

We have upped the production budget today and the all the instructions are voiced over the demonstration video, so switch the sound on and go for it.

Good luck

ANKLE HOPS
This exercise will help you build strength and resilience in your ankles

Start by standing up straight with your feet just a centimetre or two apart. Then keeping your legs straight (or almost straight) and working both feet and ankles together start doing two footed hops backwards and forwards for 20s(DO NOT bend your knees to help jumping), then switch direction and hop side to side for 20s and then finally go nuts and hop in any direction you fancy for 20s.

Have a rest and then try it again up to 4 more times.

If you need a rest between each 20s section that’s fine, and if you want to be adventurous repeat the exercise using just your right foot and then just your left foot.

ARABESQUE
Begin standing on one leg, with you knee ever so slightly bent. Make sure you have enough space in front of you and behind you to lean forward and raise your leg behind you without breaking anything valuable.
From this balanced position, keeping your free leg and back in a straight line, lean forward at the hip of the standing leg and raising your leg up behind you until you feel a stretch at the back of the thigh, this maybe once your body is nearly parallel to the ground or it could be sooner, once you feel the stretch hold the position for a few seconds .
Then in a slow controlled fashion return to your starting position. Repeat this 3-5 times on one side before switching legs and doing another 3-5 repetitions.
Do 3 sets of 3-5 reps on each leg.
Helpful tips:
1 It helps to do this exercise facing a mirror.
2. Keep your head up looking in front of you to help keep your back straight
3. The only bending should be at the hip of the standing leg, nothing else.
4. Keep the standing leg stable, if you start to wobble too much or your knees start to collapse then do not go down so far. The aim of this exercise is to go down hold and return to the starting position with control.
Keep practicing this exercise along with a few of the other drills that have been shared. The more often you do them the better you will become and over time you can add on extra reps. By the time club training and racing comes back you will be strong as an Ox and ready to rock and roll.

If you can do both of these try adding a knee drive to the reverse lunge, where instead of returning to standing you drive your back leg through until your thigh is parallel to the ground and your toes flexed upwards. If using the knee drive you will need to repeat the exercise using the same leg for 5 reps and then switch legs.

The main aim in this drill is to control your movement, so don’t rush but really concentrate on completing the exercise smoothly and accurately.

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WALL SIT
Find a wall with a floor that isn’t too slippy and probably best not to try this in socks, either bare feet or flat shoes work best.
Stand with your back towards the wall. Have your feet shoulder width apart pointing straight forward and about 2 feet from the wall.
Lean your back against the wall and slowly slide down until your thighs are parallel with the floor, your back is flat against the wall. Adjust your feet so your knees are directly above your ankles so that you have formed two right angles, one at your hips and one at your knees (make sure your knees aren’t twisting in or out)
Hold the position for 20-30 seconds.
Slide slowly back up the wall to a standing position.
Rest for a bit and then repeat the exercise three times.

Tip: If you repeat this exercise two or three times every week try to increase your hold time by five seconds each week to keep challenging yourself as you increase your strength.

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