Strength Training for Runners

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Most of us have an understanding that stretching and working out in other ways can prevent ruined runs and injuries, but most of us apologetically admit we don’t know where to begin and are too abashed to ask for help. Have no fear - we spoke to local physical therapist Patrick O’Brien to get us the perfect strength workout.

Proud dad, doctorate, and longtime triathlete, O’Brien gave us six great exercises to improve your strength. These exercises can be performed in three sets of 30 reps or within a 10 minute pre-run warm up for best results.

Mountain Climbers

These are great for hip flexor and core control; Get in the plank position, your hands should be about shoulder-width apart, back flat, abs engaged and head in alignment. From this position, pull the right knee into your chest as far as you can. Now, switch and bring the other knee in. Run the knees in as far and as fast as you can while keeping the hips down.

Side-lying Hip Lift

Lie down on your left side with your feet stacked together and your left hand behind your head so that your upper arm lays flat on the ground. Rest your head on your left arm. Place your right hand flat on the floor in front of your abs so that your fingers are pointing away from your feet. This is the starting position.

Raise your right leg up without bending the leg at all, only a slight bend in the knee is acceptable. Raise as high as possible, pause, and then lower back down. You may repeat this movement as necessary. Repeat on the other side.

Hip Hike

In the standing position keep the left leg straight and raise the right leg off the floor. Raise your right hip and pelvis by hiking your hip towards the ceiling. Hold this position for one to two seconds, slowly lower your right hip and pelvis back towards the floor, then hike your hip and pelvis towards your shoulder once again.

Concentrate on using the muscles on the outside of your left hip to rotate your pelvis up and down. If you are doing this exercise correctly you should feel a burning in the muscles on the outside of your left hip. Repeat on the left side.


Lay on your back with your hands by your sides, your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Make sure your feet are under your knees. Tighten your abdominal and buttock muscles. Raise your hips up to create a straight line from your knees to shoulders while being sure to maintain a tight core and continuing to take even breaths.

Return to the starting position. This exercise can progress more dynamically including performing with a single leg, or with your feet on an exercise ball, etc.

Step Ups

Step one foot up onto a box, bench, staircase or even a sturdy chair. You can be creative, but be safe and start with a low step. Bring the trailing leg up into a 90-degree angle in front of the body as you balance on one foot. Slowly return the lifted leg to the ground and repeat.

Keep your shoulders up and back and the knee of your standing leg in line being sure not to allow your knee (on the stance leg) to collapse inward. Repeat on opposing leg.

Single Leg Dead Lift

Standing on one leg with a slight bend in the knee, hinge at the hips as you lower your chest toward the ground, raising the other leg behind you. Be sure to keep your upper body and the raised leg in a straight line throughout the rep. Then lift your body back to starting position. Keep the back flat throughout
the entire movement. Switch legs and repeat the exercise.

Ochsner Health System is a proud sponsor of The Louisiana Marathon in Baton Rouge, LA January 14, 2018. The race features something for everyone with a 5K, Kids Marathon, Quarter, Half and Full Marathons. Join Ochsner’s running team at any of the race events and receive a free Ochsner tshirt.

For more information and to sign up, visit

This article by Malena Morea was originally published by the Louisiana Marathon.

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