Monthly Archives: September 2022

Upper Body Strength for Runners

All runners know they need strong, stable legs and hips to get the most out of each run.  Equally as important, and often overlooked, is upper body strength.  Being powerful above the hips as well as below will help you run faster and perform better during every workout.  Your arms move in precise coordination with your legs to help maintain rhythm while your shoulders work to maintain good posture that allows your lungs and diaphragm to do they best job they can.  A strong core stabilizes against rotation that wastes energy and helps propel you forward.

So how do you build upper body strength?  There are tons of exercises you can use.  Focusing on muscle groups that improve and maintain posture is the best path to building strength that will make you a better runner.  That means your back, chest, shoulders and, most importantly, core.  While you don’t want to end up carrying extra muscle weight by bulking up, you do want strong, stable muscles that will hold you up when the going gets tough.  Here are four of Team ECRP‘s favorite upper body moves:

Push-Ups:  Push-ups stabilize shoulder, strengthen arms and work those important core muscles.  Performing them correctly, with your elbows tight to your ribs and externally rotated shoulders, will improve running form and efficiency.

upper body strengthPlank Rows:  These toughies challenge your entire upper body.  Your shoulders and core work to stabilize your position while your back works to lift that weight.

Pull-Ups:  Adjustable for everyone, this challenging exercise is a great way to get a stronger, more stable upper body.  From strict pull-ups to ring rows, the wide variety of scaling options means there’s no excuse not to try.upper body strength

Overhead Press:  Yes, any overhead press will do.  Whether it’s a strict press, thruster, push-press or clean and jerk, lifting weights over your head takes skill and strength.  Your core stabilizes your entire body while shoulders work to push the weight up.

Use these four moves to help build upper body strength.  You’ll earn better running form and faster race times.

Coach Meredith

Workout of the Month – The Long Run

The long run is a staple of every runner’s program. And it should be because it has tons of benefits. Regardless of what race distance you’re training for, it is an important part of your weekly mileage. Here are some of the big gains you can earn with your weekly long run.

long run

Builds volume (and fun). The long run contributes a large portion, up to 30%, of your weekly mileage. Running more miles improves your efficiency and strengthens your heart. It’s also a great time to run with friends and have some easy paced fun.

Mental toughness. The long run usually comes towards the end of the week which means you’re tackling it on potentially tired legs. Marathons are hard and you’ll need to practice being uncomfortable if you want to succeed on race day. These long miles provide the perfect opportunity to get your head, as well as your body, ready for anything.

Learning how to fuel. Never try anything new on race day. Long runs give you a chance to learn. Try different fuels on training days, not when the pressure is on. Take the opportunity to explore fueling at different times, different types of hydration and figure out what works best for you.

Stronger bones, tendons and ligaments. Running puts a lot of wear and tear on the body. The cumulative stress from running lots of miles makes your body stronger, as long as you recover adequately. That means your body will hold up better to the strain of race day and can produce more power over the long haul.

How to do it: The long run should be run at roughly 90 seconds slower than your goal race pace. It can also be slower than that or include race pace work. To build the right run for where you are in your training cycle, reach out to a qualified coach.

Where to do it: Anywhere! The long run is a great tool to explore a new city, trail or park. Make sure you check routes for potential hazards, like lots of traffic or no shade, or helpers, like water fountains and restrooms, before you run them.

Get excited for your next long one and have fun out there!
Coach Meredith

Strong Feet for Runners

Runners need strong feet.

Your feet are your base.  They hit the ground first with every step you take and bear the brunt of impact.  Amazing structures with 26 bones, 33 joints and over 100 muscles, ligaments and tendons, strong feet help runners do important things. Things like balance, engage their cores and strong feetmaintain proper posture.  Of course, our feet don’t operate alone.  They’re attached to our ankles so those need to be tough, too.  Building a better athlete starts at the bottom with strength and stability in our feet and ankles.  Here are some of Team ECRP‘s favorite ways to build a strong base:

Bare them:  Lose your shoes as much as you can.  Go barefoot (or socked).  Proprioception is the ability to sense where parts of our body are in relation to the others and the strength required for movement.  It gets destroyed by wearing shoes.  Limited proprioception makes us visually dependent and slows reactions times.  It can also increase risk of injury.  Bare feet improve our foot’s ability to respond to the ground it touches, even when it’s back in a shoe, for better balance and fewer potential missteps.

Work them:  Do toe gymnastics.  Spread your toes out as far as you can then pull them back together.  Try moving each toe individually.  You can also practice balancing on one foot.  Keep your big toe flat and foot long to exercise the foot’s muscles.  Work towards holding it for one minute with your eyes closed (an additional challenge).  This will help develop balance and the strength of the tendons and ligaments that support your ankle.  You might be surprised how hard this is on your first try but it can quickly improve with a little work.

strong feetLove them:  After all that work, strong feet need a little love.  Take care of them with a roller ball or massage.  The improved circulation will bring needed oxygen and nutrients to hard working muscles.  It’s easy to do while you’re catching up on the paper or binging Netflix.

Remember that each step starts with your foot then rolls up through your body.  Take good care of your feet and they’ll take good care of you.

Coach Meredith