The off-season is the only logical time to rebuild your strength, and that means hitting the weight room for running-specific exercises such as squats and curls as well as reps on a variety of machines that work on primary movers like hamstrings, quads, calves, shoulders and arms. But it should also mean creating better general strength. That’s a term that refers to developing strong muscle groups that will support the primary movers—psoas, trapezius, abs, obliques, lats and glutes. Lastly, you should do exercises that build stability and balance, such as static lunges on a stability disc, or one-legged medicine ball throws.
“Those little muscles are what make you fast and efficient,” says middle-distance running coach Jay Johnson, who co-produced a series of DVDs called “Building a Better Runner: Building from the Ground Up.” “You can’t just work on your primary movers. You’ve got to work on the entire system.”