Tune Your Machine
Keep every muscle firing at peak capacity to optimise your running economy. No power lost.
“An underrated element of running mechanics — strong glutes mean better acceleration, while a weak set leads to injury,” says performance coach Si Tate.
Upgrade it: “Jumping split-squats will increase your range of movement, strength and power, which improves both speed and technique,” he says.
“These muscles provide the power and endurance to repeatedly push you off the ground,” says physiotherapist Steph Davies.
Upgrade it: Physiotherapist James Bowles suggests this desk-friendly move to keep your calves firing: roll a tennis ball under your foot. When you reach a tender area, keep going until you feel a release. This improves the way the tissue pulls through the calf muscles for explosive movement.
“The foot and ankle kick-start forward propulsion,” says Tate. Weakness here will negatively affect the muscles right up your body.
Upgrade it: When running faster than 4.5mph, your ankle provide 47% of the power. “Training them will sidestep injury and add oomph to your push-off,” says Tate. Hop forwards and backwards on one foot, knee slightly bent, then go left to right. Swap feet and repeat.
Relaxed shoulders and arms help you maintain an efficient running posture.
Upgrade it: Shake your shoulders out to release any tension. And keep your head up: research at Central Washington University found this improves your running economy by 1%: that’s a crucial 30secs off a 50min 10K. So channel Michael Johnson, get those shoulders back and prepare to obliterate your PB.
“A strong core that works with the swing of the arm and stride of the leg gives your stability and efficient form,” says Davies.
Upgrade it: Runners in a study at Barry University who followed a core training regime cut their 5K times by 3%. Strength coach Gareth Cole suggests overhead reverse lunges, side planks and single-arm planks to carve out a solid middle.
Although often neglected, strong hams are vital to your stride and prevent your knees from over-straightening.
Upgrade it: “Nordic hamstring lowers will strengthen them,” says strength coach John McMahon. Kneel with someone holding your ankles behind you and slowly lower yourself to the floor, keeping your body weight straight. Then push yourself back up.
Image from Morguefile
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