6 Tough Exercises for Women to Get Better at Long-distance Running

Running uses all the major lower body muscles. (Image via Pexels @Daniel Reche)
Running uses all the major lower body muscles. (Image via Pexels @Daniel Reche)

Typically, long-distance running is defined as running continuously at least three miles. However, long distance runners can also run further than that - anywhere between 3-10 miles at one time. It's a form of endurance running that requires great stamina and mental strength.

If you do run regularly for short distances and wish to go for long-distance running, you'll need to improve your bodily strength, stamina and muscular endurance.

You can improve your long distance running through a variety of exercises. Generally, the muscles you must strengthen to run long distances are:

Glute Muscles: Present in your buttocks

Quadriceps: Front of your thighs

Hamstrings: Back of your thighs

Calf Muscles: Run down the lower leg from knees to ankles

Hip Flexors: Flexible muscles of the pelvis, lower back and spine

Exercises targeting and activating these regions can be really helpful for long-distance running.

Exercises for Women to Get Better at Long Distance Running

Check out these six exercises to help women get better at long-distance running.

1) Weighted Squat

If you're already a runner, chances are that the squat is a regular part of your workout. Squats target most of the major muscle groups you use while running, and strengthen them. If you're comfortable with the bodyweight squat, you can proceed to perform squats with weights.


Here's how you can perform this exercise:

  • Keep your feet hip-width apart and somewhat outwardly pointed.
  • Hold the dumbbell or kettlebell with both hands firmly at little below shoulder height.
  • Look up, and stoop as though you are sitting on an unseen chair.
  • Make sure you're not leaning too far forward; your knees should not extend beyond your toes.
  • Maintain a neutral spine, prevent arching your back, and extend your arms.
  • Perform two to three sets of 10-15 reps.

2) Walking Lunge

Walking lunges are an excellent exercise to increase your stamina, strength and muscular endurance. They work out all the major lower body muscle groups and give you a greater burn than static lunges. They also improve your stability and balance.


Here's how you do this exercise:

  • While standing, maintain an upright, shoulder-width stance.
  • Take a large step forward with your right leg, and squat till your back knee either touches the ground or comes close to it.
  • Push down with your leading foot, and stand up.
  • Repeat the same action with your left leg.
  • Perform two or four sets of 30 lunges (15 on each leg, per set).

3) Deadlift

Deadlifts are a great exercise for activating your core and your hip extensors. They also work out and strengthen your hamstrings, apart from improving bone mineral density, jump performance and metabolism.


Here's how you do this exercise:

  • Place a barbell on the floor directly in front of you. Place the middle of your foot under the bar, with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Take hold of the bar, keeping your hands shoulder-width apart.
  • Bend your knees till your shins are in contact with the bar. Keep the bar in place over the centre of your foot.
  • Raise your chest, and straighten your back; do not move the bar, and do not let your knees sink.
  • Stand with the bar against your legs while squeezing your shoulder blades together and taking a deep breath in.
  • While maintaining a straight back, bend your knees softly to lower the bar to the floor.
  • Repeat ten times.

4) Single Leg Glute Bridge

The Single leg glute bridge is an excellent exercise to isolate and strengthen your glutes and hamstrings. The endurance of these muscles is very important and crucial to running for long periods.


Here's how you do this exercise:

  • Lie down flat on your back, with your legs bent and feet on the floor.
  • Raise your hips so that the line from your shoulders to your knees is straight.
  • Extend one leg straight out, hold for a few seconds.
  • Return it to the ground, and repeat with the opposite leg.

5) Bird Dog

The bird dog is a simple exercise designed to strengthen your core, lower back, glutes and thighs. It encourages a neutral spine, good posture and improves stability. It can help you sustain your form in long-distance running.


Here's how you do this exercise to get better at long-distance running:

  • In a tabletop position on your hands and knees, raise your left arm parallel to the floor.
  • Simultaneously, raise your right leg behind you such that your thigh is parallel to the ground, and your shin is perpendicular.
  • Your knee should be flexed 90 degrees, and your gluteal muscle should be engaged.
  • Pause for a few seconds, and flip sides.

6) Plank

Plank is one of the best exercises for all-round strength development, but it especially targets your core muscles. A strong core can help you maintain your form in long-distance running.


Here's how you do this exercise to improve your long-distance running:

  • Lie down on your stomach. Rise up, and support your weight with your forearms and toes.
  • Maintain a straight line from your head to your feet, and keep this position for the duration of the workout, using your core, glutes and lower back.
  • If you want to increase the difficulty, lift your right leg and your left arm simultaneously; hold for two to three seconds, and swap.


Along with the aforementioned intense exercises, you'll also need to follow a good diet regimen and stay consistent to improve your long-distance running over time.

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Edited by Bhargav
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