Week 15: marathon strength-training

As your taper approaches, you'll start to temper the difficulty and focus on recovery.

With just two weeks to go until race day, it is definitely the right time to start thinking about a taper—but not quite the full-fledged, feet-up-on-the-couch variety. "As your race approaches, you need to start tapering training stress," says Tier 4 coach Jason Skinner. "This week is all about toning down training stress and focusing on enhancing recovery. To that end, the complexity and difficulty of the movements this week will definitely be lower than previous weeks."

So while you're not off the hook in terms of strength-training, this week's series will focus on opening up muscle groups and reinforcing proper movement patterns, which will help you get to the finish line happy and healthy. "The Crab Reach is a great movement to open up the entire anterior chain," says Skinner. "The glutes, hamstrings, and upper back all produce to the movement in this position which forces the shoulders, packs, quads and hip flexors to open up."

Your second and third exercises, the Rear Foot Elevated Quad Stretch and Core-Activated Glute Bridge, both work to open up the hips while adding movement.

"Lastly, the Eccentric Calf Raises are all about ankle and foot health," says Skinner. "This exercise requires the calves to stretch while under resistance, which is really how most functional movements occur. This will go long ways in terms of preventing achilles, foot, and calf issues."

Perform this 4-move series on your designated strength-training day, at least once this week.

Just getting started? Jump right in, or circle back to the beginning. Access the full calendar of moves.

(1) Crab Reach (mobility)

Start out in a seated position with the legs bent, feet on the floor, and arms under your shoulders. Stay tall through your chest as you push through your hands and feet to elevate your butt off the floor about an inch. From this position, drive your hips as high as possible as you reach overhead and towards the floor with your right arm (as shown). As you do this, you should also move your head and look at your left hand on the floor. Hold this top position for a few seconds, really trying to engage the glutes. Lower the hips to the starting position, one inch off the floor, as you return your hand to the starting position. Switch arms and repeat. Do a total of 3 to 5 reps per side.

(2) Rear Foot Elevated Quad Stretch (activation)

Kneel on the left knee, with the left foot elevated on an object with the right foot flat and right knee bent 90 degrees. Keeping left glute contracted, extend arms out in front of you at shoulder level, pressing hands down onto the end of a foam roller, as shown. (This will engage the abdominals, which will increase the stretch of the hip flexors.) Be sure to remove the arch of the lower back by using the glute to tuck the pelvis underneath you. Drive forward slightly, maintaining the posture of the spine. Perform the stretch for 40-60 seconds per side.

(3) Core-Activated Bridge (movement prep)

Lie on the floor holding the handles of a Cook band attached behind you with knees bent 90 degrees. Begin the movement by pulling the hands to the floor as you tuck your butt as if you are trying to flatten your lower back. As you tuck your butt, press your hips towards the ceiling (as shown). As you press the hips up focus on drawing your rib cage down towards your pelvis. Hold the top position for 3 seconds before dropping the hips. Do 10 to 15 reps. (Note:You can keep the hands pulled towards the floor for all the reps, or before every rep lift them and pull them back down to stimulate the core.)

(4) Eccentric Calf Raises (movement)

Stand on your toes on the edge of an elevated box and hold onto a body bar to provide balance. Drive your body up by pressing through your toes. From the top position, slowly lower your heels down towards the floor and try to elicit a calf stretch when you reach the bottom of the movement. This lowering process should take about 5 seconds. Return to the top by once again driving through your toes. Do a total of 8 to 12 reps.