Run Reigate – your final countdown

As 5,000 runners prepare for Run Reigate, sports scientist and athlete Ollie Martin, owner of WildFit Surrey, shares his expert advice on being run ready for the big day.

Running is an amazing way to get fit – we are most definitely ‘born to run’. It’s what our bodies are designed for, and delivers a raft of benefits. However, most of us know at least one runner who has suffered injury. Conditioning training to complement your running will reduce your chance of injury, improve performance time and, most importantly, keep it fun.

One of the keys to preparing for a running event is to embrace a holistic approach. Over-training by simply doing more running is a common mistake and can lead to illness and injury.

Serious runners know that they need to target all areas of fitness, including flexibility, mobility, strength and balance. But I often meet pleasure runners who are keen for tips on how to get the most from their training. The long answer is complex, and I will be there at Run Reigate if you’d like a chat about that! However, the shorter reply, is – there’s no get-fit-quick magic wand, but there are techniques that everyone can include in their training to set you on the track to success.

It’s vital that your core, back, glutes and hamstrings are strong, and here are five exercises to help:

Stability Ball Supine Offsets – 2 sets of 4 reps each side (alternating)

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Feet on the ground, shoulders and head on ball. Keep your hips up and your feet shoulder-width apart. Then move your torso to one side with one shoulder coming off the ball. Hold this position for three seconds and then move slowly to the other side repeating the hold. There will be a tendency for your inside hip (the left hip if you move to the right) to drop, so check this and make sure both hips stay level.

Single Leg Squats – 2-3 sets of 8 reps each side (one at a time)

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Stand one-legged on a bench and then lower the other leg until you lightly touch the floor with your toes, then return to standing. Initiate movement with your bottom, sitting down into the movement. Your upper body comes forward, but your spine remains neutral. Your weight stays on the heel and ball of the foot that is on the bench. The bench leg knee stays in line with second toe. There should be no pain in the knee. It should be your thigh, glutes and core that feel like they are working. This is a key exercise and is easy to get wrong, so work on your technique. Progressions: Slow down the movement; hold at low position for longer; use a higher bench; hold weights in hands.

Stability Ball Leg Curls – 2-3 sets of 10 reps

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Lie on your back on the floor with your feet/heels on a stability ball. Lift your hips into a straight ‘bridge’ position. Start the exercise by bending (flexing) both legs at the knee so the ball comes towards your body. The soles of your feet go on top of the ball and your hips and body push upwards. There should be a straight line from your knees, through hips to your shoulders. Return to the bridge position and repeat. Progressions: One leg; a weight on hips.

Stability Ball Prone Feet Roll – 2 sets of 20-30 reps/side rolls (alternating)

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Place your feet/legs on the stability ball, and your hands on the ground in a facing down (prone) position. Keep your hips up and a neutral spine throughout. Twist hips/legs side to side. Start off with only small movements. Progressions: A ball can be placed on the knees, shins, feet or toes getting progressively harder. Increase movement (side to side distance) and speed of movement.

Stability Ball Russian Twist – 2 sets of 20-30 reps (alternating)

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Place your feet on floor, your head and shoulders on a Swiss ball and your arms straight up with your hands together over the centre of your chest. Keep your tongue in roof of mouth to stabilise the neck muscles. Keeping your hips up and as level as possible, twist your upper body to one side a full 90 degrees so your arms point sideways. The ball should move underneath you, with one shoulder on the ball and one directly above the other. Your arms should stay straight with your hands staying directly in line with the chest. Move your head in line with your arms. If you fall off, well done for trying! It’s not that far to fall, so try again focusing on getting the ball to move so you stay directly above it. Return to the starting position and go to other side.

Know when to rest
How long you taper and how long you rest before a race is personal, but a ball-park time is two weeks. This doesn’t mean stopping your training – it means start reducing the amount of training you do two weeks before.

Above all – enjoy!
Whether you’re running, volunteering or spectating, have a great day, and I hope to meet you to talk running, fitness and exercising in the great outdoors.

Be sure to head over to the WildFit Surrey stand in the event village on the day to find out about the discounts offered to all Run Reigate runners.