Now we’re moving into spring, plenty of us are getting back into our exercise regimes. If you’ve been a little slack over the winter (I know I have!) you can really make a difference this year by giving your running technique a serious upgrade. All it takes is a few simple exercises to add to your fitness regime and before you know it you’ll be powering through into summer.
Skipping – Used by many sports people to improve agility and speed, skipping teaches you to move lightly on the balls of your feet. Mix up your skipping exercises by skipping on one leg, moving from side-to-side or swapping from one foot to another. Time yourself skipping until you get tired, then as your fitness regime progresses try to beat your personal best.
Sprint – Short bursts of speed improve efficiency of oxygen consumption, which will help you with distance running too. Try practicing with a few 60 metre sprints, but let your body decide when you stop. When you get tired, stop, and improve on your stamina next time.
Balance – Working on your balance improves your strength and endurance. So if you want to train longer and harder, invest in a Swiss ball and try out a few of these exercises:
1. Swiss ball lunge – stand with the ball behind you and rest one of your feet on top of it. Lunge forward with your other leg, repeating 10-15 times. Then switch legs and repeat. This exercise will improve balance greatly and build strength in your legs for those sprints.
2. Swiss ball squats – stand with the ball sandwiched between your back and a wall with your feet shoulder-width width apart. As you squat, roll the ball down the wall and back up again taking care to keep your back straight. Repeat in sets of 10-12 squats.
3. Incline press-ups – place your hands on a Swiss ball shoulder-width apart and complete sets of 6-8 press-ups. Keep your back straight – this exercise will improve balance, upper body strength and will work your core.
4. Swiss ball back extensions – Lie face-down with a Swiss ball under your hips. Anchor your feet under a heavy bench and lift yourself up until your back is straight. Repeat in sets of 15.
All of these exercises are simple things you can do to really get yourself moving this spring. Keep track of how well you’re doing and try to improve on your personal bests. Before you know it you’ll be reaping the benefits of increased endurance, core strength and balance – running in the most efficient and effective way to increase your distance and speed.