5 Essential Moves for a Stronger Run

By , Alison Heilig, Acacia TV Contributor
It happens to the best of us…perhaps you set a goal to run a 5K, resolved to get back to running, or were coerced into signing up for some crazy race by your adventurous best friend (it sounded like a good idea at the time!). Feeling motivated, you do what most people do--just get out there and start pounding the pavement--and that's when it happens… your body begins to complain.  It usually starts as a quiet whisper, some lingering stiffness or low-grade soreness, and before you know it, the whispers become screams.
As you curse your body in a fit of frustration, you recall running pain-free for hours as a child. What changed? We grew up and got desk jobs with long commutes, that’s what. Sadly, our bodies have become tight, hunched, and ill-equipped to handle the motion of running due, in large part, to our lifestyles. But it doesn’t have to be this way. 
Luckily, there's a workout that can help you become a more efficient runner. Designed by Coach Alison Heilig, Fit Blogger for AcaciaTV and RRCA-Certified Running Coach at Miles To Go Athletics, the following routine is designed to help you start running longer and stronger in no time. Add it to your running regimen three days per week to up your running game! 
Single-Leg Balance with Rotational Lift
Stand with your feet hips-width distance apart, toes pointed straight ahead. Holding a light dumbbell or medicine ball close to your right hip with your arms as extended as possible, lift your chest and stand up tall. Contract your glutes, pull your navel into your spine and pull your shoulders down away from your ears. Lift your right leg, knee and foot flexed, and balance on your left leg. Slowly lift the weight from your right hip diagonally upward and extended above your left shoulder. Hold this position for a few seconds and then return the weight to the starting position. Perform two sets of 8-10 repetitions per side.
Lie on your right side, hips and knees bent at 45 degrees. Your left hip and leg should be on top of your right hip and leg with you knees and your heels together. Using your glutes to initiate and drive the action, lift your left knee away from your right knee as high as you can without moving your pelvis. Don’t let your feet lose contact with each other.  Imagine that your feet and hips are the hinges on a door. Hold this position for a few seconds and then return to the starting position. Perform two sets of 10-12 repetitions per side.

Runner’s Touch
Stand with your feet hips-width distance apart, toes pointed straight ahead. Lift your chest and stand up tall. Contract your glutes, pull your navel into your spine, and lift your right leg keeping your foot flexed as you balance on your left leg. Be sure that your hips are square and level. In a slow and controlled movement, bend from the hip as you reach toward the ground, 2 to 3 feet in front of your left foot, with your right hand as if you were reaching toward the 12 o’clock position on the face of a clock. Your right leg simultaneously extends behind you.  Be mindful that your right leg does not cross the mid-line of your body. Return to the right knee up position without touching your right foot down to the ground. Perform two sets of 10-12 repetitions per side.
Alternating Bent-Over Row
Start with feet hips-width distance apart. Bend at the hips and push your glutes back until your torso is bent forward to at least a 45-degree angle. There should be a small bend in your knees but no curve in your lower back. Hold the dumbbells with your palms facing in toward each other.  Keep your shoulders down and away from your ears as you row the dumbbell in your left hand (leading with your elbow) up until your left hand reaches your rib cage. As you extend your left arm back down to the ground, row the dumbbell in your right hand up until your right hand reaches your rib cage.  Be sure to keep your hips level and square as you switch from side to side in a controlled piston-like motion. Perform two sets of 10-12 repetitions per side.
Front Squat
Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulders-width distance, toes turned slightly outward. Hold a dumbbell in each hand where the head of each dumbbell rests directly in front of your shoulders, palms facing inward. Squeeze your glutes and pull your navel in to stabilize your spine. Keep your chest up lifted and your chin parallel to the ground or slightly lifted. Center your weight over the front of your ankles, avoid loading all your weight into your heels or the balls of your feet. Ground down through your feet, especially the outer edges and heels as if you were trying to spread the ground beneath your feet apart. Draw your shoulder blades down your back and look at the ground about 5-7 feet out in front of you.
To lower into the bottom position, slowly extend your hamstrings behind you, bend your knees, and press your knees out and away from the midline of your body (not forward beyond your toes). Keep your shins as close to vertical as possible, your chest lifted and your abs engaged the entire time. To rise back to the top, press into the ground and pull your shins back as you straighten out your hips and knees. Squeeze your glutes at the top of the squat to level out your pelvis. Perform two sets of 10-12 repetitions.

AcaciaTV is a leading subscription-based streaming fitness service easily accessible on a variety of platforms/devices. Members have complete access to more than 100 workouts in a diverse range of disciplines which they can stream anywhere at any time. AcaciaTV now features new themed 20-minute workouts each month from trainersKristin McGeeAmanda YoungDeazie GibsonGerren Liles and Liz LeFrois. Consumers can visit Acacia TV at US.Acacia.TV and easily try out the service with its 10-day free trial. The channel is for all fitness levels, offering workouts from beginners through advanced. Subscription to the service includes access to AcaciaTV’s Facebook fitness community which offers additional support and a group forum for all members. SparkPeople members can receive 25% off any membership for a year with the code ACACIASPARK.