FB Strong Runner is a two-week challenge designed to help runners improve their running pace and form with supplemental strength-focused workouts. Although the lower body muscles are the primary movers during a run, total body strength work is instrumental to injury prevention and enhancing performance. This challenge includes lower body, upper body, core, and low impact/restorative movement workouts, all with exercises that complement the biomechanics of running:
- Lower Body: Strengthening the muscles of the lower body (with resistance training and plyometrics) improves foot strike force production to improve cadence and minimize turnover effort.
- Upper Body: Your body is a kinetic chain — everything is connected and where your arms go your legs follow (and vice versa). A strong upper body helps you maintain proper running posture as your body fatigues during a run.
- Core: Your core includes more than just your abdominals (glutes, hip flexors, lower back) and is considered the powerhouse from which all movement originates. A stable base creates a foundation for powerful movements in the limbs/extremities.
- Low Impact Cardio/Restorative Movement: Cardio workouts of a lesser intensity than training runs can potentially reduce muscle soreness, offset fatigue, and keep muscles pliable for the next workout session.
This challenge is recommended as part of a larger personal regimen that incorporates strength training and cross-training workouts with specific training runs; you can repeat this challenge as needed to accommodate your training goals and preferences. Make sure to build in recovery between repeated rounds to avoid burnout!
Who should participate?
This challenge was designed for runners looking to improve their running form and pace; however, anyone could benefit from participating in the workouts to improve their activities of daily living and strength training practices. If you are tackling this challenge as a runner, there are optional runs listed on a few of the workout days for you to incorporate into your two-week training regimen. These runs have very loose parameters, because each person has their own unique training goals and levels of fitness as it relates to running. If you need a little extra guidance for determining how to fit this challenge into your running schedule, the following articles could be helpful to you:
- Training Styles and Techniques to Increase Running Speed and Distance
- Strength Training or Cardio First? How Should I Start My Workout?
Below are a few ways to potentially approach this challenge:
- New Runner: For the purposes of this challenge, we will define a new runner as someone who has just started dabbling in the world of running, currently completes runs that are 15-minutes or less at least twice a week, and/or anyone who is returning to running after an injury or extended time off. If you have just begun your journey as a runner, keep your accompanying runs toward the shorter end of the suggested duration and include as many walking breaks as necessary. Approach this challenge as a launching pad and feel free to extend the duration beyond two weeks to ensure proper recovery and acclimation to a new activity.
- Experienced Runner: We will define an experienced runner as someone who is comfortable running for at least 30-minutes at a time at least three to four times a week and has some experience varying the intensity of their runs. You can adjust the focus of the suggested training runs, include additional runs, and/or vary the order of your strength training days to meet your training needs — but remain mindful of how sequencing can affect your energy levels.
- Non-Running Athlete: Even if you are not approaching this challenge as a runner, you are still an athlete and you are still more than welcome to participate in the workouts. Feel free to add comparable length/intensity cardio workouts to the days with optional runs (such as brisk walking, cycling, or any activity that increases the heart rate).
- Everyone: Listen to your mind and body! Swap, postpone, and modify workouts as needed to match your energy levels and daily intent for movement.
Whichever way you choose to approach this challenge, make sure to listen to your mind and body! Amend the schedule in any way you see fit to match your training goals and personal preferences for enjoying movement: extra recovery, switch out workouts, rearrange the order of workouts, skip workouts, etc. Most importantly, have fun and enjoy the journey!
Format: Workouts are six days each week, average 32 minutes per day, and are mostly level 3 workouts to allow for enough energy to complete the optional runs on days 2, 5, 8, 9, and 12. For most of the workouts, you’ll need a set of weights (or two) and a mat, but a handful of workouts include optional equipment (such as the physio-ball, exercise band, and yoga blocks).