Week 5: marathon strength-training

You'll work in new planes of motion, and foster stronger connections, with this week's workout.

With four weeks of training under the belt of your running shorts, it's time to break you out of your (literal) comfort zone. “Even though running occurs in the sagittal plane, forward and backwards, this week we will introduce some movements that occur in the other planes of motion,” says Tier 4 coach Jason Skinner. “If your goal is to get from point A to B as fast and safe as possible, you need your body to be really good at resisting motion in the frontal (side to side) and transverse (rotational) planes.”

You’ll also focus on relationship-building this week—stretching and strengthening those often-ignored areas that are connected to the running-specific muscle groups you’ll use on the road. “It’s common to see issues at alternating joints throughout the body due to global connections of muscles via the fascia,” explains Skinner. “A portion of one of the spiral lines connects one side of the hip to the opposite shoulder. The first exercise in this set, the hip flexor stretch with the pec minor stretch, directly addresses this relationship.”

Incorporating a Cook Band is another great way to target multiple and connected muscle groups, and get you working across planes. "As the muscles of your upper body produce the movement, the resistance of the band forces the muscles of the trunk and hip to fight forces in the rotational plane," says Skinner. "Plus, because this exercise is performed in a split stance, it has a great carryover to running."

The Lateral Plank, in the same vein, strengthens the core in a way that prevents unwanted hiking of the pelvis, a common problem in inefficient runners, and also reinforces a healthy relationship between the core and the glutes, says Skinner. Improving the core-glute connection leads to a more controlled gait.

"In addition, we’re going to teach you how to perform the commonly overlooked pushup in a manner that makes it one of the most effective total body exercises," says Skinner.

Complete this four-move workout at least once this week.

Just getting started? Download a PDF of your first four weeks of workouts here.

(1) Hip Flexor Stretch With Pec Minor Stretch (mobility)

Go into a half-kneeling position on the left knee, bent 90 degrees, and bend the right knee 90 degrees, right foot flat on floor. Keep the glute of the left leg contracted as you use a foam roller to drive the right arm in a diagonal direction away from the hip flexor being stretched (as shown). This should elicit a chest stretch, more specifically a pec minor stretch. Hold this position for 30-45 seconds and switch legs and arms.

(2) Lateral Plank (activation)

Start by resting on your left side and forearm, feet stacked, your left elbow in line with your midline and equidistant from your shoulder and hip. (To regress the exercise slightly, you can start with your feet staggered with the right foot in front and left foot behind, heel to toe.) To begin, drive your hips to the ceiling and try to decrease the distance from your armpit to the pelvis on the downside of your body, extending your right arm into the air at shoulder height (as shown). Be sure to press your hips forward by squeezing your glutes, as if you were performing a forearm plank. This will ensure that you maintain a neutral spine. Hold the position for 10 seconds, then repeat 3 times with 5 to 10 seconds rest in between reps. Switch sides and repeat.

(3) Half-Kneeling Cook Band D1 Pattern (movement prep)

In a half-kneeling position on your left knee, with emphasis on keeping the left glute engaged, grasp a Cook band with your right hand and drive it across the body from high to low. The goal should be to remain as motionless as possible in the trunk and hips. Do 8 to 10 reps; switch sides and repeat.

(4) Push-Up (movement)

To begin the descent of the push-up, you should start to pull your shoulder blades together as you lower your chest to the floor. It should feel as if you are pulling yourself to the floor. Be sure to keep your neck fixed with your chin tucked towards your chest. The elbows should travel in a 45-degree angle in relation to your trunk. Hold the bottom position for a second, as shown, and drive away from the floor to the top of the lift. At the top of the movement, push as far from the floor as possible by driving the shoulder blades apart. Reps are going to vary person-to-person, so just emphasize doing quality reps. If you cannot do push-ups from the floor, find something to elevate your hands rather than performing the motion from the knees. This will keep an emphasis on the core.