It’s easy to fall into a rut with any kind of exercise.
Maybe you always take the same fitness class, or never try heavier weights when you’re lifting, or run the same routes over and over at the same pace. Whatever it is, it’s time to do something different.
We’ve been asking tons of questions lately about how to be stronger, faster and fitter as runners get ready for spring races.
We asked Brett Beil, a strength and conditioning coach with Sanford POWER in Fargo, North Dakota, what he recommends before every run. He says this quick routine can help take your training to the next level.
Hip flexor stretch. You can do this one of two ways: If you’re fairly flexible, you can put one foot on a bench or step, and then lower your other knee to the ground, making sure your upper body is nice and tall. Then gently lean forward, until you feel a stretch in your hip flexor. You can do this without a step, too. Just lower down into a lunge until your knee is on the floor, then shift your body weight forward until you feel the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds, and do both legs twice.
Foam roller. The goal of the foam roller is to massage muscles. Beil recommends always doing your glutes, lateral quad, calves and quads. And he warns: It’s probably going to hurt. After all, you’re trying to break up scars and lesions in your muscles that show up after a lot of exercise. If you foam roll and it doesn’t hurt? Then that area is probably fine, and you can move on to whatever is sore.
Overhead squat. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a bar at your shoulders. Drop down to a squat position, keeping your knees over your ankles. As you drop down, raise the bar over your head, to stretch your hips and spine and shoulders. “It’s hitting a lot of joints in one movement,” Beil says.
Backward lunges. Stand with your feet together and hold a weight in both hands against your chest. Step back into a lunge position, and raise the weight up and over the shoulder of whichever leg is in front. Keeping your hands at chest-height helps keep your upper body tall. “I like to lunge backward because it’s easier to do correctly,” Beil says. Do 10 on each leg.
Lateral lunges. Stand with your feet together and your hands clasped in front of your chest. Step one leg to the side, and sit back into a lunge, keeping the standing leg straight and your knee over the ankle of the bent leg. Trying to visualize it? Pretend you’re standing in the center of the clock. Reach one foot to 3 o’clock, keeping the other in the center. Then come back to center, and reach the other leg toward 9 o’clock, coming back to center. Do 10 on each leg.
These moves have helped keep Beil healthy.
“When I was in my late teens and early 20s, I would put my shoes on and go out the door and now that I’m a little older, I need to do a little prep work before most runs, especially before speed workouts,” he says.