6 Best Exercises for Marathon Runners to Improve Stamina

Soniya
Strength training helps marathon runners enhance stamina & improve performance. (Image via Pexels / Snapwire)
Strength training helps marathon runners enhance stamina & improve performance. (Image via Pexels / Snapwire)

If you're a marathon runner and looking for ways to boost your stamina, you'll be pleased to hear that strengthening your body in between runs is a great way to enhance your performance.

By improving and increasing the strength of the muscles in your upper body, lower body and core, you can ensure that your overall running efficiency improves. That will help you to run faster for longer, helping you to keep going when your legs begin to feel heavy.

By integrating different exercises into your training programme – or even investing in some specialist running equipment – you'll be able to build up strength and stamina quickly.


Best Exercises to Improve Marathon Performance

Here's a look at six such exercises:

1) Leg Raise

This exercise helps marathon runners strengthen their hip flexors to help with knee lifting when running, as well as working the lower abs for a more stable torso.

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Here's how you do leg raises:

  • Lie on your back with your arms at your sides, and bring your feet together.
  • Lift them up as close to vertical as it feels comfortable, and lower them slowly back to an inch above the floor.
  • Repeat this exercise using one leg at a time, if you like.

2) Glute Bridge

It's great for marathon runners who need to target their glutes for improved activation when they run. That helps keep the pelvis level and legs, pelvis, and torso aligned with the center of gravity when you run.

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To do this exercise:

  • Lie on your back, with your feet flat on the floor and arms by your sides.
  • Raise your hips towards the ceiling to make a straight line between your knees, hips, and shoulders.
  • If you keep your neck in a neutral position, your shoulders will be more comfortable.
  • Hold for two seconds before lowering slowly back down, and repeat.
  • To make this workout more challenging, extend your arms above you.

3) Superman

Whether you're running a marathon or jogging around the block, fitness experts recommend this simple exercise to strengthen your back and help you run faster.

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To do this move:

  • Lie face down on the floor with your hands near your ears and palms facing downward.
  • Lift your chest and shoulders off the floor, and pull your shoulder blades together.
  • Keep your head looking at the ground to avoid stretching out your neck.
  • Lower yourself back down to the starting position, and repeat.

4) Single Leg Deadlift

If you're a marathon runner, a single leg deadlift helps build up your hamstrings and glutes to increase running power. It'll also make you more stable, which will reduce risk of injury.

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Here's how you do this exercise:

  • Step up with your right foot.
  • Lift a dumbbell or kettlebell in your right hand.
  • Extend your left leg behind you, keeping it straight and off the floor.
  • Bend forward at the hip, keeping your back straight and right arm extended towards the floor.
  • Keep your right knee slightly bent and hips level.
  • Bend down as far as you can towards the floor before returning to the starting position, and repeat on the other side.

5) Walking Lunge

If you're a long distance runner, the walking lunge can improve your single-leg balance and coordination for improved stability and stride length so that you can run faster.

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To do this move:

  • Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, and take a big step forward with one leg, and bend your knees, lowering your body and rear knee towards the floor.
  • Keep your front knee over your ankle, and keep your body upright.
  • Push off your rear leg, and step it back to meet the other one. Repeat by alternating legs.

To make this exercise harder, hold dumbbells by your side as you lunge.

To work your core more and make this exercise easier, hold a medicine ball in both hands above your head as you step forward to lunge. Lower it down as you step back to standing.


6) Squat

If you're a marathon runner, you should be doing squats.

Squats strengthen the major muscle groups and reduce injury for marathon runners. They also improve flexibility, which makes your running stride faster and more efficient.

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Here's how you do squats:

  • Stand with your feet a little wider than hip-width apart, and point your toes slightly outwards. Bene your knees as though you’re sitting down on a chair.
  • Keep your knees over your ankles and chest up, keeping your back straight.
  • Slowly lower down till you're sitting on your heels. Push up through your heels, and return to the standing position..
  • If you want more of a challenge, hold a kettlebell at chest height while performing the movement, or rest a barbell across your upper back.

Takeaway

If you're a marathon runner and are experiencing muscle soreness, try adding the aforementioned exercises to your routine.

If you're suffering from a muscle injury, as part of your physiotherapy routine, work on increasing your arm strength, particularly if it's weak.

Doing so will contribute significantly to the recovery of your muscles, something you should definitely aim for.

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Edited by Bhargav