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Strength workout for running with Dani Byrnes


Words: Dani Byrnes


When training for a Gold Coast Marathon race, it’s important to develop strong muscles and healthy joints to avoid injury and maintain good running form. This workout focuses on strengthening the legs and core, the two key running drivers to get you through to the finish line. There are many functional, body weighted exercises to incorporate into your training. These are some specific, short workouts that can be done anywhere, anytime without any equipment. Repeat this workout two to three times.

1. Walking squats

Get into a low squat position, with your hips back and weight through the heels. Staying low, take 6-8 steps back, then 6-8 steps forward. Keep your chest open and shoulders down and back. You can add in 1 full squat between each step to build intensity. Continue for 60 seconds.

2. Jumping lunges

Start in a lunge position with both knees bent at 90 degrees. Jump up with power, switching the legs over in the air, repeat. Be mindful to launch through your front heel and for a challenge try to tap your back knee on the ground or add 3 x pulses between each jump. Do 20 each side, 40 jumps in total.

3. Curtseys

Starting with feet hip distance apart and keeping the torso upright, step your right foot behind the left foot, and lower the right knee towards the ground. Step the fight foot back to the starting position and repeat on the other side. Do 20 each leg.

4. Squat jumps

This one will get the heart rate up, improving cardio fitness. Start in a squat position with your knees bent over the toes, then jump explosively, landing safely on the balls over the feet before lowering the heels. Beginners stay facing one direction, for added intensity and a coordination challenge, jump and land facing right. Continue to squat jump clockwise, then repeat in the other direction. Do 20 jumps total.

5. Side plank with pulses

Now lets get to the core! Start on your right elbow, pressing your hand into the ground (this avoids shoulder pain). Reach your left hand up to the sky and look at that hand. Make sure the hips are stacked and begin to pulse the hips up. Pull the waist in draw the belly button to your spine. Do 20 reps and repeat on the other side.

6. Side plank with leg left

Stay in the side plank position and lift your straight top leg up from the hip, and lower back down with control. You will begin to feel a burn in the side of your glute. Do 10 and then repeat on the other leg.

7. Straight leg lift

Begin in a plank position either on your hands or elbows. Engage your left glute and lift your left foot off the ground a few inches, keeping your left leg straight from the hip. Begin to pulse the whole leg up, ensuring your glute is firing. If you’re struggling to activate your glutes, try a donkey kick by bending your knee and pulse-kicking the heel up. Do 20 each side and repeat.

8. Climbers with rotation

Starting in your plank position, bring your right knee to your left elbow, then send the leg back staying in a hover. Then slowly rotate your hips and send the right leg behind you, tapping your foot on the group, then rotate the body back to plank position. If this is too challenging, stick to a regular mountain climber and add the rotation when you are stronger. Do 20 taps each side.

9. Fast mountain climbers

We are on the home straight, so lets get that heart racing again! Complete 30 seconds of fast mountain climbers! Try to lift those knees right up towards the chest and keep your butt low. Push those hands into the ground to protect the wrists.

10. Crunches

Lying on your back, bend your knees and keep your feet firmly pressing down. Bring your fingers to your temples or hands behind your head and begin to lift your chest while you pull your navel to your spine. Slowly lower back down and repeat. Continue for 45 seconds or earlier if fatigued. Be mindful not to pull your neck and let your abdominal muscles do the work for you.

11. Bicycles

Hold your final crunch from the last step and bicycle those legs, turning them over as quickly as possible. The more you extend (straighten) your legs the harder it becomes. If you experience any back pain, bring the knees in a little closer or lower your shoulders back to the ground and keep the legs going.

12. Scissors

Staying in your crunch position (abs should be burning by now!) extend your legs straight up to the sky and bring your arms down the sides of your body, hovering off the ground. Lower one straight leg towards the ground, then use your lowers abs to lift the leg back up and repeat on the other side. If you have tight hamstrings or overactive hip flexors this can be painful, so bend your knees in this movement.


Dani Byrnes

Dani is an active and healthy lifestyle champion, fitness advocate, pilates instructor and women’s wellbeing entrepreneur. Her running portfolio includes the New York City Marathon and a number of finishes in the ASICS Half Marathon.

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