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Rachel Cosgrove: Racing toward marathon fitness

Results Fitness

Posted: July 15, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: July 15, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Physical therapist Amy Wunsch, a client at Newhall’s Results Fitness gym, demonstrates a single leg squat while utilizing a TRX, which adds an extra strength training element. Physical therapist Amy Wunsch, a client at Newhall’s Results Fitness gym, demonstrates a single leg squat while utilizing a TRX, which adds an extra strength training element.
Physical therapist Amy Wunsch, a client at Newhall’s Results Fitness gym, demonstrates a single leg squat while utilizing a TRX, which adds an extra strength training element.
Plank with leg extension. Plank with leg extension.
Plank with leg extension.

Running one mile averages out to about 1,500 repetitions of bouncing on one leg.

That is pretty advanced exercise, yet many people use running as their first and only introduction back into fitness.
No wonder so many people end up with injuries.

With the Santa Clarita marathon, half marathon and 5K in about 16 weeks, now is time to start training. Completing one of these events is a fantastic goal.

First, stop and think about getting your body fit enough to run.

What do I mean by that?

By performing some specific exercises to improve range of motion, strengthen each joint and switch on muscles that are currently not engaged, you can get your body fit enough to run, leading to a better performance and fewer injuries.

If you are already a runner, these exercises will improve your performance and keep you running for the long-term.
The four keys to this fitness program are:

1. Engage your core
You’ll be a much more efficient runner if you have a strong, stable core to center you while your legs are moving.

If you have ever watched an elite runner, especially sprinters, you’ll notice their torso stays perfectly still while their legs are spinning underneath them.

The less body movement you have up top, the less energy you are expending and the faster you can run.

By performing the following exercises as part of your routine, you will teach your body to have a stable core while moving your upper body and lower body.

* TRX single-leg push-up
We used the tool called a TRX from that I highly recommend because you can get a great workout done in your house before you head out for your run.

You could also perform this exercise leaning on a sturdy table, bench or stairs. Performing a push-up while balancing on a single leg and keeping your core stable will challenge your upper body and your core, and it will translate to your running.

 * Plank with hip extension
Again, the goal of the exercise is to stabilize the core while moving the legs.

In this exercise, you are also getting the added benefit of switching on your glutes to wake up your back side like we’ll discuss in the next point.

Be careful not to lift your legs too high and kick in your lower back. Only lift as high as you can maintain a stable core and feel your glutes switch on.

2. Wake your butt up
Most people tend to be quad dominant, meaning they use the front of their legs more than the back of their legs.

When running, this can lead to knees not tracking properly and, eventually, tendinitis.

Plus, if you are not using your glutes, the biggest muscle in the body, you are not generating as much power as you could.

Add these exercises into your routine to switch on your backside so that you become a more efficient runner and keep yourself free from injuries.

* Hip-thigh extension
Amy Wunsch, physical therapist at Results Fitness said, “The No. 1 priority for runners should be an exercise that switches on the posterior chain and core, such as a hip thigh extension.”

This is a great exercise because, not only are you switching on your glutes, but you are also getting an active stretch of the hip flexors (the muscles on the front of your legs that get tight from running) and working your core.

* Offset step-up
Single-leg exercises should also be a priority, including this one, which is a hip-dominant movement, also waking up the glutes.

Really think about driving through the working leg and not pushing off the bottom leg to get the benefits.

In addition, I have added an offset load on this exercise, holding a dumbbell on one side only — again work your core to stabilize.

3. Get your knees ready
Using an exercise to improve the integrity of the knee joint, strengthening the muscles that support it in a full range of motion, is important when you are going to be running.

* Single-leg squat
This strengthens the muscles around the knee joint. Be sure when you are performing this exercise that your knee is tracking over your second toe.

You can use a TRX to make the exercise easier, as using a TRX takes some of your body weight off so you can work on your range of motion and increase your strength in a full range of motion.

4. Improve your posture
Pull those shoulders back and down. So many runners run with their shoulders up at their ears and forward, creating neck problems.

To improve your posture and decrease the tension in your shoulders, add a pulling movement to strengthen your upper back, pulling your shoulders back and down.

* Inverted row 
The inverted row is a great pulling exercise because, not only does it strengthen your upper back and improve your posture, it again works your core.

Adding the above exercises into your routine will get a lot done in a short amount of time so you can get out and get your mileage in.

You can even do these as part of your warm up before you head out for a run.

Happy running! See you at the finish line!

Rachel Cosgrove is the author of “The Female Body Breakthrough” and co-owner of Results Fitness.
Results Fitness has their first half marathon/ 5K running group starting at the end of the month. The kick off meeting is on Wednesday, July 27 at 6:30pm. We are training for the Nike Women’s Half Marathon and the Santa Clarita Half Marathon and 5K.

If you want to run with a group, learn how to do the above exercises properly and have a scientifically designed progressive plan along with elite coaching throughout your training come join us! 100 percent of profits will be going to The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Just show up at the kick off meeting to get signed up. Results Fitness is located at 24420 Walnut St., Newhall. 91321. Visit or (661) 799-7900 for more info.


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