If I could only give one piece of advice to a new runner it would be: work those glutes. So many running-related injuries are caused by weak glutes. When your glutes aren’t working this means your hips are dropping and other muscles are over-compensating to take on the unnecessary strain.
I’m not a physiotherapist or a qualified sports person but I’ve had I fair few injuries. Last year I was consistently plagued with one thing after another: hip issues, groin issues, knee issues and IT band issues. My physio said to me my glutes (specifically my gluteus medius) weren’t playing ball when I was running and this caused a whole chain of compensations and over-working of muscles that shouldn’t be working so hard.
I took time off of running and hit the gym. My physio gave me some great exercises to specifically focus on improving my glute strength and hip stability and I scoured the Internet and magazines such as Women’s Health to further supplement my training (they actually had a great article in their December addition giving good focused moves to help strengthen your buns).
Big compound moves can help improve overall lower body strength:
- Squats (single leg variation are great for addressing imbalances)
- Romanian deadlifts
- Regular deadlifts
Whereas accessory moves can specifically target the glute areas:
- Glute kickbacks
- Lateral leg raises
And obviously overall core work is essential with running in general:
- Russian twists
- Leg raises
- (The above compound moves help target the core too)
Obviously I’m still not immune to injuries (hello 6.5 weeks of not running because I make stupid choices and do too much), but I can say that my glutes are far more strong than they used to be. I can physically feel them working when I run. The telling point for me was after my first marathon (before all the strength training) my quads were on fire. After working on my glutes, the aches were more general. My quad dominance had hugely decreased as my glutes were taking on more work.
Getting my PB (3:24:06) at the Liverpool Marathon earlier this year
And it made me realise that I do actually enjoy going to the gym. Aside from PBs and running strong, there’s nothing better than lifting heavy weights at the gym and feeling like a superwoman!