Practical Strength for Cross Country
Cross country season is upon us and there’s no better time to build functional — practical — strength for your running. When it comes to run strength, “It’s all about the booty.” — wise words of one of our PT heroes, Jay Dicharry.
Your butt is the Boss of your “push off.” It adds power to your stride and provides stability around your hips so that you can truly push forward — fast! — rather than flop side to side. Couple strong glutes with core muscles trained to effectively stabilize your spine in neutral so that you can sustain optimal posture while you run, and both you and your xc squad will prosper this fall.
Mountain > Single Leg Balance > Warrior 3 > Runner’s Lunge > Warrior 3 > Single Leg Balance > Mountain
Do 3–5 sets on each side, spending 3–5 breaths in each pose as you cycle through the sequence. Start slow and as you get comfortable, try moving more fluidly between the poses. Keep your hands on your torso through the entire sequence to give you feedback about whether your spine is compensating — aka side bending or back bending when the goal is to keep your core strong to maintain neutrality.
- Bring your feet to hip’s width apart, evenly distributing the weight across both feet.
- Stand tall and put your hands on your waist, making sure your spine is neutral with even space between your ribs and hips on both the right and left sides.
- Exhale and gently engage your deep core muscles — if you’re not sure how to do that, cough and you’ll feel the muscles fire beneath your hands.
- Keep those deep core muscles engaged throughout the entire sequence, while maintaining a neutral spine.
Single Leg Balance
- Lift your right knee up to waist-height, bending your knee to a 90-degree angle.
- Press down strongly through your left foot, and contract your left glutes — focus on engaging the lower, larger portion where your butt meets your hammies.
- From Single Leg Balance, shift your torso forward, bringing it parallel to the ground as you extend your right leg out behind you.
- Make sure your right and right toes point toward the ground.
- Feel both glutes working to stabilize your hips, and your core engaged to help you balance.
- From Warrior 3, slowly step your foot back into a lunge.
- Keep your front knee bent at 90 degrees, tracking directly over the ankle.
- Make your back leg straight and strong, without locking the knee (if that feels too hard, you can drop the back knee to the ground).
- Keep using your hands to feel that your core is engaged around a neutral spine, and engage both your glutes.
Be strong and get dirty this season. Game ON, cross country!