Strength Training

Strength Training That Benefits Your Performance

Gathering information about strength training for runners is easy. But who dedicates a few words to us ultrarunners about this important part of our training routine?

The question is: Do I need to bother doing those special exercises when in reality I haven't got any time or only a few minutes a day to lift weights and go to the gym? On top of running a family, going out to work, fitting in my training runs, planning races and activities?

For sure, some of you are in the lucky position to have a bit more time available and spend a few extra hours on building up muscle strength, even integrating plyometrics.

In that case, you may feel like doing more repetitions of each exercise than suggested. Or feel inspired and motivated to try the ones that are new to you.

It cannot be emphasised enough that this type of training is strengthening the muscles as well as the mind. It is this part of the training routine that should be given enough attention to and be followed through in order to gain maximum benefits.

Based on my experience it is amazing to notice significant differences in my core strength since I started to integrate strength training four to six times a week. Weeks and months of consistent training continously show to pay off.

And that is when you stand at the starting line of your (first) ultrarun of the season!

Your fitness will not only show in your endurance having run miles and miles in training on a weekly basis. It's when you hit those trails and uneven off-road paths in the woods, even tarmaced roads, when you will feel the difference.

You will feel stronger than ever in...

  • your upper body posture
  • core, i.e. pelvic floor, hips
  • ankles, knees, arms and shoulders

And let's explore even more advantages. You...

  • prevent injuries or at least lower the risk
  • automatically start to run more efficiently in a better upper body position
  • feel the strength coming from your belly button as if an elastic band would pull you along
  • learn about the bottom-up theory reversely to the idea that power and efficiency solely comes from the feet

What may seem like tedious annoying work at first glance creates amazing long-term strength for you as an ultra athlete on the bigger scale.

Here you have the opportunity to find out about the key exercises that gently strengthen all the muscles, fibres, tendons and bones of your body. The good thing about this kind of strength training is that you can do all of the exercises in your own home.

We are looking for a program that saves us time and is efficient, too. One that can be integrated even while kids or pets are playing around.

You need the following equipment in order to complete most of the strength training exercises in the right way and achieve maximum results:

  • exercise or yoga mat
  • inflatable balance cushion
  • balance pad
  • medicine ball
  • dumbells
  • ankle weights

Again, you luckily don't need to spend time listening to an instructor explaining high-tech machines to you in a gym!

This strength training is effortless in comparison. Yet, try to pencil your training in and skip a movie or show on TV instead.

As a full-time mother training and working from home I usually do my core exercises either early in the morning or whenever there is a time frame/slot. For example, the hour before dinner proves to be a good opportunity sometimes to fit them in or whenever the kids are playing together.

Now, let's see in detail which core exercises prove to make you fitter and stronger:

This exercise may feel hard to do in the beginning. Still, you'll progress fast.

Make sure you tighten the pelvic floor muscles and keep arms and legs hip-width apart.

Start with 3-4 sets and aim to build up to 8-10.

Start one set by holding this position for 10-15 seconds, then lift the right or the left foot off the floor for 5 seconds, bring down and hold again for 10-15 seconds.

Lie on one side and keep arm in a 90° angle. Focus on your core muscles again and hold for 45-60 seconds.

If possible, lift upper foot up for 5 seconds, then relax again.

Start with 3 repetitions for each side and build up to six.

Stand against a wall keeping your back straight, arms on your side. With an ankle weight strapped around one foot, slowly lift up the leg to a 90° angle.

Repeat ten times on each side.

This routine strenghtens the hip flexor and even helps to strengthen the pelvic floor.

This next exercise is a real balancing act.

Stand on an inflatable cushion with one foot while keeping the leg straight.

Like a tree trunk, stand tall and strongly holding this position for one minute. Repeat each side three times.

A great routine for strengthening the stabilisation muscles.

Regarding the Invisible Chair exercise on top of this page, bring your body into the position while arms and hands can be resting on your side.

Aim for 3-6 sets holding this position for 45-60 seconds each time. For the advanced learners amongst you, work towards ten sets.

The exercise aligns ankles, knees and hips.

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