If you’re not outside running, what kind of exercises can you do to help you prepare for the Vancouver Sun Run? We asked Alexander Klocek, fitness manager at Club 16 Trevor Linden Fitness in Coquitlam, to provide some suggestions on what you can do if you’re working out in a gym.
What kind of cross training can I do as a runner?
Any cross training that targets resistance training focused on the lower body is going to benefit a runner. Building muscle to support the ankle, knee, and hip joints is crucial for endurance in long distance running. It also decreases the potential damage to ligaments tendons, and cartilage.
For best results, we recommend a circuit style workout which includes some training to increase cardiovascular capacity for the long-distance run. Working with free weights, kettlebells, and machines is a great start for resistance training.
How does cross-training help me run faster?
It helps by increasing the muscular strength and endurance of the lower body which increases the cardiovascular capacity and delivery of oxygen to the muscles. The more oxygen that goes into muscles, the slower the fatigue. This allows a runner to increase the speed of the pace and sustain it longer.
Can exercise in the gym make my knees/hips/ankles stronger?
Yes. Working on functional movement patterns which include squatting, hinging, pulling pushing, rotation, gait, and lunging, improves the biomechanics of the movements which decreases the forces on the joints by running. The increase in muscle size provides extra support for the joints which further decreases the chance of injury.
For a runner, what’s better: swimming or lifting weights? Why?
Generally speaking for running, weight training is a much more beneficial form of cross training. With swimming the VO2 max/cardiovascular capacity is largely different from that of running and will likely not cross over to increasing performance in running. It is largely an upper body dominant exercise and does not involve gait-like movements. Therefore, the transfer of ability of swimming to running is minimal. Lifting weights helps improve the specific muscles involved in running by increasing the strength, efficiency, and the cardiovascular capacity.
What kind of routine should I follow if I’m working out by myself in the gym?
If you do not know what kind of weight training you should be doing, we highly recommend getting a personal trainer to guide you through a proper workout for your body.
Everyone has a different body and different imbalances that may need to be addressed before you start weight training. This begins with working on functional movement patterns and focusing on the lower body. Types of exercises you can expect include squatting, hinging, lunging, step ups, leg presses, and hamstring curls.
The training format largely depends on the level of the client. Generally, one or two exercises in a row targeting opposite muscle groups would be a great start. If the client is a little more advanced, mixing this in with a short burst of cardiovascular activity such as a run, aerobic steppers, and side shuffles would be a great way to challenge the runner. You would want to minimally train lower body at least 1x a week and upper body to strengthen the core 1x a week as well.