How to condition your feet, hips, knees and core before a race

August 14, 2019
group of people stretching and conditioning on the floor
Try these easy exercises to prepare your body for your next race

Are you planning to run or walk in a PeaceHealth community race? You'll thank yourself later if you condition well in advance.

The following tips, provided courtesy of Sherri McMillian, M.Sc, a partner in one of PeaceHealth's community races, help prepare key parts of your body--feet, hips/knees and core--for the stress of racing.

What's great about these exercises is that you can do many of them almost anywhere--even while you're watching television. Plus, you only have to do them a couple of times a week.

Feet

Do each of these 1-2 minutes, 2-3 times per week

1. Towel crunches 

Lay a towel flat on the floor in front of you and using your bare feet, curl your toes on the towel, pulling it closer to you. 

2. Ball curls

Squeeze your toes around a small soft ball (like a bean bag or Hacky Sac).

3. Toe Taps

Tap your toes as fast as you can, pulling your toes close to your shin.woman's barefoot higher than toe

4. Barefoot heel raises

Lift your heels quickly, pressing up on to your toes.

Hips/Knees

Do each of these 2-3 times per week

1. One leg step-up

  • Position yourself in front of a bench that puts your knee at a 90-degree angle when you step up on it. (If this height is too much for your knees, use a step that is lower and more comfortable.)
  • Keeping your kneecap facing forward with your weight evenly distributed on all four corners of your foot, slowly step up and extend the supporting knee into a fully upright, balanced position. Then slowly lower back to the starting position.
  • Do 1-2 sets of 8-12 reps for each leg. 

2. Resisted lateral steps

  • Wrap an exercise tube around your ankles, then standing tall with abdominals tight, slowly step side to side, maintaining resistance on the tube.
  • Do this for 1-2 minutes.

3. One leg bridging

  • Lie on your back with one leg bent and your foot flat on the floor; lift the other leg straight up to the ceiling.

  • With your arms at your sides, slowly lift your hips and buttocks towards the ceiling while contracting your glutes (buttocks) and hamstrings (back of thigh) until your body weight is resting comfortably on your shoulder blades.

  • Throughout the exercise, keep your hips square to the ceiling and your abdominals contracted. (Don't tilt to one side.)

  • Slowly lift up and down 8-20 times for 1-2 sets.

woman doing a left lift on a bench at a track4. Side lying outer thigh leg lifts

  • Lie on your side with your body straight. Keep your abdominals contracted as you lift the top leg upwards.

  • Hold your leg at the upper end range of the motion, then return to the starting position.

  • Do 8-20 reps each leg for 1-2 sets

Core

Do each of these 2-3 times per week

1. Plank

  • Lie on your stomach. Position your elbows under your shoulders.

  • Contract your abdominal muscles and then slowly lift your body on to your toes and your elbows. (If that's too much, start on your knees and elbows, then as you get stronger, try going up on your toes.)

  • Hold the position for 30-120 seconds. group of people doing a plank exercise in the gym

2. Side-lying plank

  • Lie on your side while propping yourself up on one elbow with the elbow positioned right under your shoulder. Keep your body straight and aligned.

  • Slowly lift your hips off the floor so your weight is now supported by your elbow and your knees (or toes, if you're ready for the more advanced position)

  • Hold the position for 5 seconds. Do this 8-15 times on each side.

3. Tri-Pod Training

  • Get on your hands and knees with your arms/hands positioned under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips.
  • Keep your abdominals contracted and your spine stabilized. Your back should be completely neutral...it should feel like a straight line from your tailbone to the top of your head.
  • Reach one arm out in front of you from your shoulder while you lift the opposite left out towards the back, all the while maintaining your stable spine and contracted abdomen.
  • Do this 8-10 times each side. 

4. Rotationary V-sits

  • Start by sitting upright, then recline back a few inches while maintaining good postural position, supporting your body weight on your sitting bones while keeping your chest out, shoulders back and abdominals contracted.
  • Hold this position while you slowly rotate your elbows side to side.
  • Perform this 8-15 times each side. (To make the exercise more challenging, do it while holding a medicine ball.)