Training: Making it count & maximising your precious time

Click here for Richie's New Balance Kit breakdown. 

Click here for Richie's New Balance Kit breakdown. 

An article from our founder Director: Richie Norton.  Professional PT & New Balance Ambassador.  Here Richie explores training techniques to make you faster and stronger in your running.  Over to you Richie!

OK - So here's my view on how to make the most of your training time and how to become more flexible and improve your strength. Plus, my favourite NewBalance kit to get the job done of course :-)

I see it in gyms far too often. Walking straight in and grabbing weights far too heavy without priming the muscles first; then (after stressing the body throwing weights around) just walking out of the gym (following a good flex in the mirror with a few selfies) with no warm down at all..... this is you setting yourself up for trouble!
I get it.  When you’re smashing a running program, often the last thing anybody wants to do after an all out sprint circuit or 5K workout is to even think about a cool-down routine. However, the cold truth is that your post training routine is as important as your physical training.  Especially if you intend to excel and have the edge over you opponent.  Dealing with your post run routine will also help prevent injury - something I know I've fallen with in the past and will literally do ANYTHING to avoid.

You’d be surprised; failing to follow up a lower-body session with an effective warm down circuit that includes sufficient stretching of your key muscles will hold you back. If it doesn’t leave you injured, neglecting the time to cool down can have a direct effect on your speed next session. Those five minutes you think you're saving heading home early simply aren’t worth it.

So here's a few tips from me.  Incorporate them into your running training and let me know how much faster you go and stronger you feel!

Click this picture for a link to my 3 Foam Roller Moves for Runners

Click this picture for a link to my 3 Foam Roller Moves for Runners

Flush out those toxins

Tackling the build up of the lovely DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) will keep you on track. The Lactic acid waste product that builds up around a muscle after repetitive movement, can literally bring you to your knees. A stretching routine lasting just five minutes sends blood and oxygen to your lower-body flushing out the acid leaving your muscles set for the next session.

Flexibility and Mobility

Improving your range of movement to resemble an olympic gymnast is the dream of course, but for most of us simply being able to touch our toes and reach both hands down our back is a challenge. Neglecting that cool down stretch will only delay any progress you planned and likely lead to an injury. Static mobility cool downs and some time on a foam roller will fill your muscles with blood and oxygen giving you a deeper release and rapidly improving your recovery time. ‘Less pain for more time gained'.

Here's a few more of my favourite stretch time moves to help you along.

TIP - Hold each move for a minimum of 30 seconds while taking in those deep slow breaths.
You’ve got to listen to your body. If one part of your leg aches then target those areas again with some more stretching love.

Quad stretch

  • Stand up and take some deep breaths
  • Whilst standing, bend your leg behind you and pull your foot into your glutes (bum).
  • Feel the gentle stretch (don't force it) and release
  • Repeat - you will probably go further on subsequent repetitions

Single-leg hamstring stretch

  • From your knees, place one foot forward in front of you.
  • Keeping your back upright and foot planted, lean forward through your hips to stretch the front of your rear leg.
  • Repeat with the opposite side.

Hip flexor stretch

  • From your knees, place one foot forward in front of you.
  • Keeping your back upright and foot planted, lean forward through your hips to stretch the front of your rear leg.
  • Repeat with the opposite side.

Glute stretch

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent.
  • Lift one ankle up and rest it across the opposite knee.
  • Reach underneath the lower leg and pull up towards your chest.
  • Repeat with the opposite leg.

Strength Training

Strength training is so important if your intending on having a strong start to a run and maintaining a steady driving pace. Every runner needs a reserve of strength, not just in the legs but your also your core during those last few miles. Maintaining a solid program that incorporates all these areas, stabilising your joints and improving your endurance is the key to a strong race and finishing without injury..

My top 3 Exercises for Running Strength

The barbell squat


This all-round strength staple is particularly great at stabilising your core muscles but, more importantly, it also creates a foundation of explosive power you can use when it really matters.

1. Stand with your feet more than shoulder-width apart – this wide stance will allow a deeper squat;  getting your glutes and hamstrings involved.
2. Hold a barbell across your upper back with an overhand grip – avoid resting it on your neck. Hug the bar into your traps to engage your upper back muscles.
3. Take the weight of the bar and slowly squat down – head up, back straight, buns out. Lower yourself until your hips are aligned with your knees, with legs at 90 degrees – a deeper squat will be more beneficial, but build up your strength and flexibility first.
4. Drive your heels into the floor to push yourself explosively back up.


The Deadlift

Essential for building a stable core during your run. A solid mid-section ensures your run power comes from your hips rather than loading injury-causing stress on your knees.

1. Stand with your feet slightly wider that shoulder-width apart, with the barbell on the floor in front of you. Bend at your knees and your hips to take hold of the bar with an overhand grip; your hands should be shoulder-width apart.
2. Head up, back straight: squeeze your glutes, tighten your shoulder blades and pull in your lower abs. After that, it’s simple. Stand up.
3 The bar should remain close to your body the whole time, almost in contact with your thighs when you’re fully standing. Keep tension in your core as you lower the bar to the ground – this doesn’t have to follow the same pattern of movement, just get it down safely.

The front loaded split squat

Muscle imbalances can be a major problem for runners, slowing down your running economy. By targeting your weaker leg with this unilateral exercise, you can share the power between both legs, which should allow you to pull out a spurt of speed when you need it most.

1. Stand facing away from the bench, holding a barbell across your chest. Have one leg resting behind you on your toes.
2. Squat with your standing leg until the knee of your trailing leg almost touches the floor.
3. Push up through your front foot, contracting the glutes to return to the start position.

Master your mind

Breathe. Your brain is a muscle, it needs rest just like every other muscle in your body.  By focusing on the air going in and out your lungs during the cool down, your mind and breathing become one. Long deep slow breaths will slow your thoughts and allow your muscles to let go and lengthen. Finishing each session feeling confident in your mind and body will only improve your motivation, taking you to that next level of performance.

Build up mental strength. Set your goals, visualise where you are going and imagine the feeling of reaching those goals and how amazing it feels.

What motivates you? The more you concentrate on what it feels like to be at the front and win that race, the more focused you will become on believing it is possible. Breathe, find your flow and go get the job done.
‘You are your toughest opponent’.

The power of the mind in performance.

With love and respect

Richie x