Indoor exercises to improve your outdoor running

Runner's legs with blue shoes, in motion over tarmac

Being stuck indoors doesn’t mean you have to miss out on training

Lockdowns can be disheartening times for runners. Whether you’re officially in quarantine or just trying to avoid unnecessary contact with other human beings, it can feel demoralising to be stuck indoors. Your trainers sit calling to you, asking ‘why haven’t we done a 10k recently?’ You might think all your hard work is going to waste, and there’s not much you can do about it.

But actually, being stuck inside for a while can present a really great opportunity to work on other aspects of your running. Incorporating some regular weight and resistance training into your routine can lead to great long-term benefits. Runners are infamously injury prone, and taking some time to build your strength is a great preventative step. You can also work your core to build stamina and endurance. So all is not lost! Take the chance to make sure that when you do next get out for a run, you’ll be stronger, more stable, and on better form than ever!

These are some of the exercises I do to help my running now I’m spending so much time in the house. As in my previous indoor fitness post, I’ve chosen ones that don’t require any special equipment, so should be achievable whatever your home set up. I’ve also included some super how-to videos, so you can be confident that you’re getting the techniques right.

1 Glute Bridges

These deceptively simple exercises are great for improving your hip flexibility, as well as strengthening your lower back and core. As well, of course, as your glutes! They’ll help your hamstrings too, so for a low impact and easy to master move they pack a lot of punch. Greater hip and hamstring flexibility will make a big difference to your running, and the better posture and stability you gain from a strong core will help build your stamina, keeping you going comfortable for longer, and giving you a better base from which to push yourself. If you’re looking to up the difficulty, place a weight over your hips.

2 Push-ups

Not an exercise commonly associated with the sleek physique of a runner, push-ups actually offer some real benefits for running. Like with the glute bridges, this is mainly about improving your core strength. Few runners can say they want to put on a lot of upper body muscle, but all runners want to build stamina. The added stability of having slightly more toned shoulders will feel great, but you’ll mostly see the difference in your lower back, where your toned lats will help support you over long distance runs. We all know how tired our backs can feel the morning after a long run, but regular push-ups should help prevent this. If you’re not ready for the full thing, you can do the knee push-up variation until you increase your strength a bit.

3 Bulgarian Split Squats

In contrast to their OG cousin the squat, Bulgarian Split Squats are a great way to work on your hip flexors. By having one leg up behind you as you squat, you can replicate the same motions you get in your running stride. They’re also kinder on your back than a traditional squat. Working some split squat reps into your routine will help improve your balance, thus also working your core. I have pretty terrible balance, so it always takes me a few reps to get into these, but once I do they’re super satisfying!

4 The Plank

The dreaded plank. No one can escape it, whatever sport they choose, and no workout is complete without it. The simple fact is that the plank is a brilliant way to strengthen your core, alongside your back and leg muscles. I shudder to think how long some people can hold a plank, but anything from 20 seconds to a minute can still be beneficial. The key is to ensure you’re really engaging your muscles – keep your bum low or your effort will be wasted. For variety you can also try side planks.

5 Leg Raises

These are deceptive, as it looks like you’re getting a lie down, and the first few reps feel easy. It soon gets tough though. Keeping your legs straight and toes pointed will work your core and lower abs (somewhere difficult to reach with crunches). Lifting the weight of your legs in a controlled manner is easier said than done, but ‘the harder the exercise the greater the reward’ is certainly true of the leg raise.

So those are just a few of my favourite exercises to help work on my running without leaving the house. I felt I was making good progress with my running before we left the UK, so it’s a little frustrating to be out of the habit again. However I’m confident that with my new indoor workout routine I’m putting myself in a good position for when I do get outside again, and will hopefully be ready to achieve some personal bests!

What are you doing for exercise at the moment? Are you braving the outside world or embracing the indoor life? I’d love to hear how you’re getting on, so do share your experiences in the comments!


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