These 5 Things Will Help Your Legs Run Further
Condition your legs for half marathon distances with these useful tips
13.1 is a challenging distance (that’s why we love it!) And for most of us, those final few miles are where it starts to hurt.
Did you know that there’s plenty you can do to actually improve how your legs cope with the 10+ mile mark of a half marathon?
During half-marathon training, focus on building leg strength (not just fitness) and you will reap the rewards in the latter stages of long races. If your legs are usually screaming at you by mile 9 (with your knees, hips, or ankles starting to suffer), you need these training tips in your life!
Wear The Right Shoes For Longer Distances
Shoe shopping for running can be overwhelming. The shoes you wear for short training runs and races might not be the optimal choice for a half-marathon. Visit your local running shop (the advice you’ll get is worth the trip!) and explain the distances you’re running and the surfaces you run on. You could also wear compression socks – these “hold” your calf muscles so there’s less painful movement as you run. Some people feel they boost recovery, too.
Stretch For Strength
We should all be stretching regularly, but sometimes life gets in the way. If you’ve committed to a race goal this year, make sure you also commit to stretching more often. Focus on stretches for your calves (including the soleus), quads (front of your legs), hamstrings (back of your legs), and hip flexors. You don’t need to do anything fancy. Just find stretches that work for you, and do them regularly. Use stretching before you run (to loosen and mobilise key joints and muscles), and afterwards or on your rest days (to help your body recover and stay looser).
Soft Tissue Work You Can Do At Home
Along with stretching, you should add some soft tissue work into your running routine. Get yourself a foam roller (they last forever so they are a great investment) and learn how to foam roll your quads, hamstrings, glutes (bum muscles), calves and even your back if it feels tight. Regular foam rolling is almost as good as a sports massage, and a lot more cost effective!
Strength Work For Leg Muscles
If you want strong legs and a stable running gait, running isn’t always enough. Unless you are biomechanically perfect (and who is!), you could benefit from some strength work to help your lower body stay strong during long races. You don’t need to go to the gym and there’s no need to lift heavy weights. Try glute bridges, planks and side planks, Romanian deadlifts, and clam exercises. These will strengthen your hips, glutes, and posterior chain (the back of your body) – all of which are crucial for strong running muscles.
A Change Is As Good As A Rest
Remember to rest and recover properly during half marathon training. More isn’t better! Get your key runs done, and then focus on letting your body recover properly so it can adapt to the stress of running. Take rest days, use recovery runs, and switch up your training surfaces from time to time.