Strength training can be an important part of a distance runner’s routine, and the type of strength training you’re doing can impact when during the week it’s best to implement it. For some of the strength training we implement with our On ZAP Endurance team the focus is on muscle activation.
These exercises are more of a prehab / rehab routine, and are underrated when it comes to strength training. Because they aren’t particularly “hard” to do most people feel like they must not be beneficial. However, being able to activate and engage our hip and spinal stabilizers is a huge hurdle that many runners never overcome. This is the first and critical step to being able to build a platform for functional movement that will help you stay healthy and be a stronger runner.
With a routine like this where you are strengthening the muscles without weight or plyometric movement, you do have much more flexibility on when to implement this work. In general, once you get used to the routine after a week or two you can do these types of exercises whenever you want.
In fact, some people will do a few muscle activation exercises – things like clamshells, donkey kicks or walking lunges right before they go out for a run. If you struggle with engaging your glutes this can be an excellent way to wake the muscles up before you head out for your run. By doing this you will be better able to engage these hip stabilizing muscles while you run.