The Top 5

by Darren Brown

We all run for different reasons. Some of us are trying to improve our health, some are
testing our physical limits and some are trying to become one of the best ever. No
matter what your reason for running may be, the first step to getting there is to spend
time putting one foot in front of the other: in other words, running. This is the basic
concept of Rogue’s mentor, Arthur Lydiard. Lydiard believed that the best way to become
better at anything was to spend time doing that activity. He also believed however, that
ancillary work could be done to help compliment your running, especially when it comes to
injury prevention. He taught that better biomechanics, a stronger body and a stable core
not only helped runners become faster, but primarily helped keep them injury free, which
allowed them to continue training without interruption.

Now, being the “old-school” guy that he was and training his athletes on a farm in New
Zealand, his idea of ancillary work was having his athletes shovel rocks back and forth
from one pile to another. Sports-science has come a little ways since then, so I am not
going to suggest that you shovel rocks back and forth (although I think we have all felt
the soreness from a long day of yard work), but I am going to lay out five modern
“shoveling” techniques that runners of all abilities can use to help improve their day to
day performance and keep themselves healthy.

1. Form Drills: Form drills help improve biomechanics by teaching the body proper
alignment through explosive, exaggerated movements. Three examples of basic form drills
include Skips, High Knees and Butt Kicks. When done, these will improve knee drive, among
other things, which helps extend our stride, causing us to cover more ground with each
step.

2. Push-Ups: Push-ups are a very generic exercise that uses a variety of muscles in the
chest, arms, back and even core. When done properly (controlled on the way up and down
while maintaining a flat back), the push-up is one of the most efficient upper body
exercises available. They are also easy to do because they require no equipment and are
great because they can be altered to create a new stimulus. Try alternating between
wide, moderate and narrow grip push-ups as well as incline and decline push-ups to get a
complete workout that is a constant challenge.

3. Lunges: Lunges help strengthen the major muscles of the legs and glutes. These are
important because they are the main muscle groups used during running. Lunges can also
be altered to vary the stimuli being applied by alternating between forward, backward and
side lunges. These can even be done within the same set.

4. Planks: Planks, while working mainly the core, are also an exercise that uses
multiple muscle groups such as the shoulders, quadriceps and hamstrings, depending on the
plank position you are in. Planks have four positions, Front Plank, Left-Side Plank,
Right-Side Plank and Back Plank, and can be done from either your hands or elbows.
Elbows are a little tougher as they bring the angle of your body closer to the ground and
increase the gravitational pull on your core. Start by spending 10-20sec in each
position and build from there.

5. Foot Drills: Foot drills are a very important part of staying healthy. Our knees and
ankles absorb the majority of the shock while running and our ankles require the most
flex during the activity. Strengthening the muscles of the lower leg and keeping our
ankles flexible allow them to take the constant load that we place on them with each step
of our stride.

So, whether you are just getting started running or are looking to jump up to that next
level, begin incorporating these five basic exercises into your routine and watch your
running improve!

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6 thoughts on “The Top 5

  1. Very cool list, and much appreciated. Would it be possible to go into some more detail on number 5? Unlike the other categories you’ve mentioned, I have never run across any sort of “standard” foot exercises and I could probably personally benefit greatly from them since I keep fracturing mine!

    Thanks!
    Tim

    • Hey Tim,

      There is a full list of foot exercises listed at Rogue and any of us would be more than happy to walk you through them if you want to stop by. It will take all of 5min and you will have some great ancillary work to add into your daily routine. (i.e. heel walks, inside, outside, duck toed, pigeon toed and reverse toe walks).

      Good luck,
      db

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention The Top 5 « The Rundown -- Topsy.com

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