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Leg workout for distance runners

hip circle

As a distance runner, the better your strength training routine, the better your overall running performance, and the better you’ll avoid injury. In addition to weight lifting, you can make your workouts more effective by incorporating other kinds of resistance training, such as plyometric training and explosive resistance training.

Leg workout for distance runners

And if you use resistance bands, you can strengthen not only your muscles but also the connective tissues which surround your joints and protect them.

This leg workout will help you ‘go the distance’ safely and more effectively.

Moving lunges

Begin in a standing position. Step forward with your right foot and lower your hips till both knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. Ensure your back is straight and that you are facing forward. Now step your left foot forward to meet your right foot so that you are back at the start position (this will improve the stability in your ankles and knees). With the left foot, step forward into a lunge, then bring your right foot up to meet it, etc.


If you are a beginner, you can do this exercise just using your body weight. Otherwise, you can use a hip circle band like this one at to make this exercise more challenging. Loop the band around your thighs, a few inches above your knees.

Begin by standing with your feet hip-distance apart and your toes pointing out at an angle. Get down into a squat by lowering your hips till your thighs are parallel to the floor. You’ll feel your glutes, hamstrings, and quads waking up. Ensure your knees are always aligned behind your toes to not strain the joints. Keep your back straight, with your chest and shoulders out.

Squat jumps

As with the previous exercise, you can use a resistance band around your thighs if you wish.

Lower yourself into a squat stance, and then jump up as high as you can. When you land, try landing with your feet in the same position as when you started. Keep jumping, knowing you’re increasing your power by working your glutes, calves, hamstrings, and quads.

Single-leg deadlifts

Stand with your feet at hip-distance apart, lift your right leg off the floor, and raise it behind you. Keep your right leg straight and your hips facing forward. Now lower your trunk till your right leg is parallel to the floor, keeping your back straight and your abs engaged throughout the movement. Slowly come back up and repeat as needed before doing the same number of reps on the other side.

To make these deadlifts more challenging, you can add dumbbells in your hands or wrap a long resistance band around your ankles.

This exercise works your hamstrings, glutes, and your core. It also helps improve stability in your hips and ankles, as well as your sense of balance.

One-legged bridge

Lie on your back, resting both feet on the floor, with your heels close to your butt. Your arms can be resting on the floor, the length of your body, palms facing down. Lift your right foot first off the floor while keeping your right knee slightly bent. Now push your hips up to raise that leg even higher, using your left foot as support. The idea is to finish the movement with a straight line that runs from your shoulder to your knees, so your trunk should be on a diagonal. Pause for a moment here, then slowly bring your hips back down (without touching the floor) before raising them again for as many reps as needed.

Repeat the same thing on the other side, knowing you’re working your glutes and hamstrings and improving your hip flexibility.

Calf raises

This simple yet effective exercise is perfect for building strength in your calves, which take a lot of pounding when running.

Begin by standing with your feet hip-distance apart. Come up onto the balls of your feet while keeping your legs straight, but without locking your knees. Pause at the top, then come slowly back down.

If you want to make this exercise more challenging, you can do this working one leg at a time.

Side lunges

Side lunges work not only your quads and glutes but your inner and outer thigh muscles.

Begin by standing with your feet hip-distance apart and parallel to each other. Take a wide step to the side with your right foot while keeping your left leg straight, as well as your back. Your hips should be facing forward. Now lower your hips until your right knee is bent at a 90-degree angle. Return to your starting position, and repeat as needed before doing the same thing on the other side.

Enjoy these exercises, and I hope they help you run harder and more effectively!


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