By Rob Krar
There are an unlimited number of exercises out there but I believe these three exercises, as simple as they are, are the most beneficial combination (as a whole) to enhance and improve your trail and ultra running skills. Completing these twice a week will compliment your other strength training and running regimens nicely.
Why: To prepare the quadriceps for the demands and impact of prolonged and/or steep descents and avoid the dreaded “blown quads” late in a race.
- Sit on table with a Nalgene bottle (a rolled up towel works too) under one knee so the upper leg is horizontal.
- Choose a weight that allows you to finish the set fatigued but still able to complete a few more reps. Do not complete to exhaustion.
- 1st set:
- 6-8 reps of each foot angle using a slow and continuous movement.
- 2nd set:
- 5-6 reps of each foot angle while pausing at the top of each extension and holding position for 2-3 seconds.
Hip Flexor Lifts
Why: To improve flexibility and strength of the hip flexor and psoas muscles. These muscles are used much more frequently in trail and ultra running and racing during climbs and high steps over rocks and other obstacles. Strengthening these will improve comfort level on the trails and reduce toe clips and falls, especially late in the race as your body and mind fatigue and reaction time slows.
- A side table, coffee table, chair or an imaginary object all work equally well for this exercise. As your flexibility improves, challenge yourself to higher objects.
- Keep upper body vertical and interlace fingers behind your head.
- Two sets of:
- 30-seconds each leg. Complete as many reps as possible using quick and deliberate movements up and over the object, lightly touching the foot to the ground on each side.
Why: To improve comfort and coordination navigating technical terrain often encountered during trail and ultra running and racing. Quick foot movement allows for smoother lines and greater maintenance of speed and momentum on the trails.
- Any step will do. Full body movement with arms mimicking running movement—right leg up, left arm forward then left leg up, right arm forward.
- You may have to begin looking at your feet but as your coordination improves try to look straight ahead.
- Two sets of:
- 30-seconds leading with left leg and 30-seconds leading with right leg.
- Complete as many steps as possible