I recently read the book, Born To Run which is about an injury prone runner who sets out to discover the running secrets of the Tarahumara, a Mexican Indian tribe of the world’s greatest long distance runners, aka “the running people”, who run 50-100 miles at a time for pure enjoyment, seemingly without breaking a sweat.
It was an epic and engaging book and after reading it, I felt empowered and inspired to get out and go for a run. In my mind, I could keep up with the shoeless natives as I ran barefoot through the desert, mile after mile, without stopping. However, as soon as I stepped out the door and set out along my familiar 4-mile loop, I was abruptly faced with the reality that I was not born to run.
Running has always been a challenge for me and I’ve tried many different things to try and become a better runner. I’ve tried wearing minimalist sneakers and I’ve had my run analyzed. I’ve bought expensive custom insoles and I’ve tested out lots of different socks. I’ve even tried eating Chia seeds because the Tarahumara Indians, ate them on their ultra runs through the desert. But nothing has worked.
Some people are born runners. I am not one of them. I have to work very hard at running because it doesn’t come naturally to me. Don’t let my long legs fool you.
One time, during a triathlon, I was passed by a girl who was WALKING. And as she walked by me, (I was “running”) she told me that my stride was too long and that I needed to take smaller steps. Critiqued in the MIDDLE of a race by someone walking faster than I was running. Does it get worse than that?
I obviously needed help so I turned to the best help I knew, my husband, who is a Personal Trainer and an amazing runner. He gave me some great strength training exercises that have drastically improved my running.
Even though I haven’t turned into a superathlete who can run 20+ miles for pure enjoyment and seemingly without effort like the Tarahumara Indians, I have become a stronger, faster and more efficient runner, and that works for me.
So, If you’re like me and you weren’t born to run, but you still like to run, want to run, or you need to be able to run to get across the finish line in your next triathlon, try these 3 combo exercises that will strengthen your glutes, hamstrings, quads, core and more.
Combo moves are not only great time savers, but they also help improve your balance, and coordination so you can rock your run!
1. Lunge And Twist
Combining a drop step lunge with a steam engine, this power move targets your glutes, quads, hip flexors and core… just about every major muscle used in running. By keeping your hands behind your head during the lunge, you’re encouraging good upright posture which is also important in running.
Start with your hands behind your head and then do a drop step lunge. On your way up, in one smooth motion, lift your knee and twist so that your opposite elbow meets your knee for an awesome core crunch. Do 10-12 reps on each side and then switch to the other side.
2. Sumo Kicks
When you’re doing this move, which combines a squat with a lateral leg raise, think about scissoring your legs together as you stand up. This will help target and tone your inner thighs. The side kick strengthens your hip stabilizers and that will keep you running injury free for the long haul.
Stand with feet spread wide apart and toes angled slightly out. Drop into a squat and then after you come up, balance and lift one leg out to the side. Do 10-15 reps and then repeat with the opposite leg.
3. Hello Birdies
This exercise combines a single leg Romanin dead lift with a flamingo sit squat. This is a challenging move that will improve your balance and joint stability. The Romanian deal lift zeros in on your often neglected hamstrings and the flamingo squat targets your glutes from a whole new angle.
Balance on one leg and hinge down at your hips, keeping your knee slightly bent. Without touching the floor, bring your leg up and cross it over your opposite knee and then go into a squat. Do 10-20 reps and then repeat with the other leg.
So whether you were born to run or not, these exercises will help strengthen your running muscles so that you can rock your run, just like the Tarahumara Indians do. So get out there and get running because “the feeling that you get from a good run is far better than the feeling you get from sitting around wishing you were running.” (quote by Sarah Condor)