Training your body to walk farther or run faster mainly happens by actually hitting the pavement, trail, or treadmill. But you can (and should!) support your ambulatory endeavors by building muscle, mobilizing joints, and loosening up your body.
In particular, combining hip flexor and glute strength with hip mobility will give you a longer, more powerful stride. Hip flexor strength will enable a forceful knee drive, while hip mobility will allow you to access the range necessary to engage your glutes. Taken together, these are precisely what will put that pep into your step.
To that end, Well+Good Trainer of the Month Elisabeth Akinwale, a certified personal trainer who is leading our ReNew Year movement plan, has designed an 8-minute full body workout complete with mobility and strength moves specifically designed to support runners and walkers.
After a quick mobility warm-up, you’ll cycle through three moves done three times. The most directly applicable to running is a set of high knees moving forward to the front of your mat (followed by gentle backpedaling to return to the back of it). Akinwale clues you in throughout about how to make the most of this exercise.
“When you do your high knees, you really want to strike the ground with that mid foot and try to flex the foot as you come up and use those arms to really get yourself pumping,” Akinwale says. Her tips: Be aggressive with the arms, and think of punching down with the feet.
The second move in the set is an alternating plank lift, in which you’ll lift alternating arms and legs while in a plank. Keep it controlled, and stretch your limbs long to get the most out of it. “This is building that anti-rotational strength that you need for stability when you’re running,” Akinwale says.
Next up is flutter kicks, during which Akinwale really wants you to flex your feet to help strengthen your shin muscles. (Because nobody wants to get stopped in their tracks by shin splints.)
Finally, you’ll round out the workout by shifting onto all fours, and, working one leg at a time, kicking back and then bringing the leg around to the side as you bend the knee and open up your hip. There’s that hip mobility for ya. It’s all coming together now.