Keep the focus on strengthening those otherwise-ignored muscles.
Marathoners find few things more frustrating than hearing 'You're almost there!' at a premature point in the race. But that being said, in terms of your training calendar, you have two more weeks to go—the end is truly in sight. And while the theme of Week 14 sounds a bit familiar, it's imperative to stay the course.
"Once again, this week’s series of exercises is all about working on the often-ignored muscles and movements when your time needs to be spent running," explains Tier 4 coach Jason Skinner. To that end, you'll begin this week's series with the trusted World's Greatest Stretch. "If you only had time for one mobility drill, it would be this," says Skinner.
The second move, the Supine Band-Resisted March, is ideal for runners as it targets the very muscles you use in your stride. "More specifically, the goal of this move is to maintain a neutral spine as you move through the hips, which is much more difficult than it would seem," says Skinner. "The third move, the Half-Kneeling Ankle Mobility Drill, is absolutely essential for runners. The calf muscles get so much work via running that it is very common for runners to lose mobility at their ankles." The consequence: Increased susceptibility to nagging, nightmarish issues including plantar fasciitis and Achilles problems. "Lastly, Band Tap-Outs are a great exercise for hip stability and keep your glutes active, staving off knee injuries."
Perform this 4-week series once this week, on your designated strength-training day.
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(1) World's Greatest Stretch (mobility)
See the instructions here.
(2) Supine Band-Resisted March (activation)
Attach a Cook band at a low anchor point. Lie on your back with the loops of the band over your feet. Maintain a slight arch in your lower back as you drive your left knee up towards your chest as though you were marching (as shown). Be sure to keep the right leg straight, and keep the glute of the right leg contracted to maintain a stable pelvis. Return the right leg to the floor and alternate sides. Repeat for a total of 8 to 12 reps per leg.
(3) Half-Kneeling Ankle Mobility Drill (movement prep)
Get into a half-kneeling position, your left knee forward and your right foot back, and hold a body bar in front of the left foot. Keeping your heel down, drive the left knee outside of the bar as far as you can (as shown). Hold this stretch for a few seconds and really work to gain more mobility through the ankle. Return the knee to the original position and repeat for 5 to 10 reps per side. Once again, be sure to really work to gain extra mobility.
(4) Band Tap-Outs (movement)
Put a mini band around the toes of both feet. Assume an athletic position with your entire weight on your left leg. Maintain the weight on this leg as you drive the right leg out to your side. Work to keep the hips stable during this movement. Return to the original position and repeat for a total of 10 to 12 reps before switching sides; repeat.