Five Ways to Improve Your Running While Watching TV

As your running improves and your mileage starts to creep up, it’s all the more important to stay on top of your strength and conditioning routine to avoid injury. We’ve put together this fail-safe routine that you can do in front of the telly to keep you strong and injury-free.

We spoke to Sarah Ryder, founder of Bear Fitness to get a routine that we can all squeeze in whilst we are training. First up, why is it so important? “Strength training is a key aspect of any exercise regime and something that is regularly overlooked but the link between being strong and running faster as well as the reduction in injuries is clear.”

So fit it into your evening while you’re catching up on TV, try this. Each one-hour show will have three to four advert breaks lasting around four minutes – that's almost 12 minutes of strength work that will help you get that little bit faster and avoid any injuries!

1. Single leg bridge

Muscles targeted: gluteus, upper hamstrings and core

Why: If you have weak glutes the alignment of your hips can change and cause all kinds of gait problems.

How: Lie on your back with your hands either side of your hips and knees bent. Lift your hips as high as you can from the floor and start to squeeze your bum. Then lift one of your bent legs from the floor until and straighten inline with your other knee. Then try to hold this position with a neutral spine and square hips for 30 seconds on each leg.

Time: 30 seconds per leg x 2

2. Single leg squat

Muscles targeted: quads, hamstrings, glutes, core

Why: Running is a single legged activity so every runner should be equally strong on both legs. This will improve running efficiency and performance.

How: Standing on one leg sit back as if you are going to sit on a chair bend at the knee to 90 degrees and then drive back up pushing through your heel.

Time: Complete 10-12 reps on each leg for 3 sets.

3. Lateral leg raise

Muscles targeted: glute min/max and supporting muscles of the hip and core complexes

Why: Another glute exercise to ensure good form is maintained whilst running. It is important as a runner to ensure that you utilise different planes of motion to make the body strong when tested with the impact running can cause as well being able to dodge around various people/dogs/cars etc whilst on your run.

How: Lie on your side and stack one leg on top of the other. Then flex your top leg and lead with the heel to drive your leg into the air while in line with your other leg.

Time: 20 reps each side. 2 sets.

4. Bent knee eccentric heel drop

Muscles targeted: gastrocnemius (calf) soleus

Why: To aid and improve ankle range of motion, as well as addressing Achilles' tendon control and movement.

How: Start with your heels hanging off a step up on the balls on your feet with your knees slightly bent. Begin to lower yourself to the lowest point you feel you can then use both feet to put yourself back up onto your toes. This can be done on both legs or on just the one leg. Time: 10 reps each side. 3 times. Add some weight if it feels too easy.

5. Plank

Muscles targeted: deltoids, biceps, triceps, abs, quads, calfs, glutes, hamstrings etc.

Why: A strong core has a direct correlation with running form and speeds. The plank is a full body exercise and helps the body to understand that is works well as a unit. Plus with a strong and stable core hip alignment and torso prostrate should be greatly improved.

How: You can either perform the plank on your hands or forearms. Lie on your front and place toes on the floor. Lift your body up so that it is straight or the bum is slightly up in the air (to ensure there is no lordosis or sag to the lower spine) then proceed to try and hold this position.

Time: 20 seconds work then 10 seconds rest for 2-4 mins