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For decades, runners were told to run more in order to properly condition for the never-ending miles ahead. If you don’t believe us, just take a look at back issues of popular running magazines to find the latest running-related workouts. Exercises like hill sprints, tempo running and interval training build stamina. Long runs, on the other hand, build endurance, and so on.
But running more to improve running is a slippery slope; too much all at once and your body will succumb to an injury that’s sure to delay your progress. In order to strengthen your body for the demands of running, you’ll need to embrace strength training exercises that develop muscle, improve range of motion and refine your technique. That’s where our guide to strength-training essentials will come in handy.
Below you’ll find all the gear you need to integrate strength training into your running routine. Some essentials build muscle or prevent injury and others keep you organized, whether you’re heading to the track or the treadmill. If you want to become a better runner, these items will help you get there.
TRX Miniband Bundle Pack
Running injuries such as iliotibial band syndrome and chondromalacia (runner’s knee) often occur due to overuse as weak muscle forces the body to compensate. That’s why the pros use resistance bands to strengthen leg muscles in a manner that’s easier on your joints than traditional weights. This four-pack from TRX includes four resistance levels to increase difficulty over time as you stabilize your core through dynamic movements.
Lululemon Textured Training Tank Top
Proper training starts with proper clothing. That’s where this quick-drying tank from lululemon comes in handy. Its abrasion-resistant fabric withstands the rowdy nature of training and won’t lose its shape in the wash. lululemon adds No-Stink Zinc technology to reduce unwanted bacteria that cause odors, ensuring the fabric stays fresh after days of training. Wear it for workouts and warm summer days — it looks good no matter the occasion.
Synergee Core Sliders
Core sliders are simple pieces of at-home equipment that offer proven results. Place these under your hands or feet as you perform flexibility and balance workouts to help strengthen your core. As your body resists the movement of the sliders, it actively engages the same muscles that keep you upright when you run, reducing unwanted torsion as you move your arms and legs.
Manduka PROlite Yoga Mat
If yoga isn’t part of your strength-training routine, it should be. The practice strengthens the most important muscles used in running and underused muscles as well, preventing injury that would otherwise set you back. Any yoga mat will do, but we love Manduka’s PROlite Yoga Mat for its slip-resistant surface and closed-cell foam that adds cushioning on any surface without absorbing moisture.
WOD Nation Speed Jump Rope
Jumping rope isn’t a practice reserved for wannabe boxers and Rocky Balboa. Tedious as it might be, the workout strengthens your glutes, hamstrings and calves, all of which help you run faster. Jump ropes built with a steel cable, like WOD Nation’s Speed Jump Rope, spin faster and last longer than traditional plastic ropes. It’s also customizable based on your height to ensure a proper fit.
GoSports Fitness Launch Box
Who knew jumping on and off a box could improve coordination, running speed and efficiency? If you’re not productive with a hammer, nails and plywood, pick up this three-in-one box from GoSports that’s marked with variable heights. Simply rotate the box to add a few inches of height or pick up all three sizes to round out your box-jump rotation. Each box comes with a drill bit, Allen key and assembly screws for easy installation.
Bowflex SelectTech Kettlebell
Kettlebells are designed to support explosive workouts that strengthen large muscle groups, including lower-body powerhouse muscles used for running. Strengthening these muscles improves performance and protects against injury, but a complete kettlebell set occupies a lot of space. Pick up Bowflex’s SelectTech Kettlebell that changes from eight to forty pounds with the turn of a dial. The space-efficient design replaces up to six traditional kettlebells.
Trigger Point Performance GRID Foam Roller
Foam rolling promotes myofascial release, a form of therapy that’s essential for runners looking to reduce soreness. Useful in more ways than one, this 13-inch model from Trigger Point offers just the right amount of firmness as you target your back, glutes and calves. It’s also short enough to transport beyond the home, whether you’re heading to the track or the gym.
lululemon Urban Nomad Duffle Bag
Haul your workout clothes, training equipment and more with the Urban Nomad Duffle Bag from lululemon. It features a designated pocket for sweaty gear and clever buckles that loop extra clothing from the handle. Sophisticated enough for every environment, it comes complete with a 16-inch laptop sleeve and a series of pockets to organize essentials as you hustle from the office to the gym to anywhere.
Flybird Weight Bench
A weight bench not only promotes proper form when lifting but also expands your training options, from the traditional bench press to squat variations. This one from Flybird features ample padding to boost comfort and a fast-bolt adjustment system that offers seven back positions and three seat positions. Target your upper body, lower body and midsection to improve running performance.
Prodigen Running Weight Vest
Prodigen’s neoprene weight vest is built with running in mind. Elastic along the edges improves flexibility to promote comfort and reflectors on both sides keep you visible in day or night. Available in six different sizes that increase the load up to 30 pounds, pick up a vest to improve posture, speed and endurance.
Bosu Balance Trainer
The Bosu Balance Trainer is an incredibly versatile piece of equipment designed for training and injury recovery. The rubberized exercise ball-like base is filled with air to provide an unstable platform for ab crunches, lunges, squats and more. The wobbling motion of the base forces fast-twitch muscles to adapt at a moment’s notice, improving strength through the ankles and legs where runners need it most.
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