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Runners, particularly long-distance ones, tend to neglect resistance training in favour of extra mileage on the road or track. While this can help build cardiovascular efficiency, it puts stress on the muscular and connective tissue system and may lead to long-term injuries, which can take you off the road.

Shin splints, runner’s knee, hip joint and sacroiliac joint dysfunctions and stress fractures are some of the irritants that can derail the most dedicated runner. In addition, runners tend to develop postural aberrations that need to be corrected with strength-training. Rounded shoulders in runners are a result of weak upper back muscles. Most runners also develop acute gluteal and hamstring strength deficiencies that, if not addressed, lead to chronic injuries.

“Distance-running breaks down the muscles in the body and can result in a loss of strength, which in the end can slow you down," says Justin Klein, NSCA-CSCS (or the US-based National Strength and Conditioning Association-certified strength and conditioning coach), of the Humanfitproject, which approaches fitness as a philosophy rather than just a list of fitness regimens, diets and supplements.

Any aerobic activity like slow, long-distance running encourages glucocorticoid release (cortisol, cortisone, etc.) in the body. These hormones are antagonistic to strength and muscle development, and destroy muscle tissue. Over a period of time, there may be a serious case of poor stability, joint support and power development. If you are keen to run, make sure you include some of the exercises mentioned here in your workout routine.

One-legged cable pulls

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Stand on your right leg, lift the left leg at a 90-degree angle and grip a cable handle with the left hand. Exhale and pull the handle consciously, using the upper back muscles. Too much bend in the elbows will work the muscles of the arm and defeat the purpose of this exercise. Stop when the upper arm is at a right angle to the torso. Repeat 10-12 times, then change the arm and the leg. Perform three-four sets.

One-legged barbell deadlifts

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Perform 8-10 repetitions of this on each leg. Perform at least two sets with each leg. A one-legged deadlift will expose any weakness in the gluteal and hamstring muscles.

Pistol squat on box

This is a watered-down version of the more difficult pistol squat performed without a box. Squat on the box on one leg, with the other leg held out as straight as possible. Perform 10 repetitions before changing legs. Three-four sets on each side would be ideal. Other than building strength in the quadriceps and hamstrings, this is great for hip flexibility too. Many runners suffer from tight hips and this exercise will help correct that.

Ranadeep Moitra is a certified coach from the National Strength and Conditioning Association of America and has worked with the Indian cricket team, the Bengal cricket team and the East Bengal Football Club. He currently coaches the Indian golf team.

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