A single-side focused routine for long run leg preparation

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The way we often strength train for running is with two-legged exercises like squats, deadlifts, and hip bridges. But if you freeze frame yourself while running, you’ll never have both feet on the ground at the same time.

“When you run, one foot is hitting the ground while the other is moving forward, so running is technically a single-legged movement,” says Barry’s coach and Nike running coach Sasha Handal.

That’s why Handel says it’s key to train one side of the body at a timeā€”so that each leg can build its own endurance. Otherwise, it’s too easy for the stronger side to take over during strength training, leaving you sidetracked.

“We want to make sure every leg is prepared,” Handal said.

As part of his latest workout video good + goodAt the month-long celebration of running, United States of Running, Handal shares her favorite moves to mobilize, activate, and prepare the body for success on long runs. You can do this 15-minute video as a warm-up for a run or as part of a run-specific strength training routine in the days between runs.

You’ll start with some dynamic stretches to lengthen and tone the muscles. Some of these involve standing on one leg and playing with balance, which helps build the small stabilizer muscles in your feet and ankles. Handle suggestions for this section? Go slow, and don’t worry if you lose your balance and want to put one foot down. Back up where you left off

Next, you’ll start working on that single leg. You’ll start with my all-time favorite dynamic running stretch, the hinge. These simulate a progression in slow motion.

“You’re almost mimicking what a sprinter would do, and you’re making motions in the opposite direction, which is really challenging for balanced legs,” Handal says. “But the slower you go, the more control you access, and the tighter you tighten your core, the better it is.”

From there, you’ll transition to a squat with some more full-body strength challenges, which will “warm up glutes, hamstrings, quads, core, basically your whole body,” says Handal. And you’ll round out that aspect with single-leg raises in a bridge position as well as diagonal work in a modified side plank. Then, you do it all again on your other side.

Your body is strongest when all the parts move together, but it’s nice to know you can stand on your own two feet when you need to.

“This workout gives you everything you need to build endurance one leg at a time,” says Handal. “Hit your next long run with a lot of confidence and feeling very accomplished with your ability to really go the distance.”

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