Ultrarunning champion Jazmine Lowther of Nelson, B.C., got to where she is in the sport for many reasons, including her willingness to do strength training. We know you didn’t get into running so you could lift weights, but it’s kind of part of the deal. If you want to maximize your potential and minimize your risk of injuries, strength training is a must. Fortunately, Lowther recently posted some of her favourite exercises, all of which require at most a resistance band or a weight, making this the perfect at-home or on-the-road strength routine for runners who hate the gym.
Hip airplanes (30 seconds)
You don’t need the resistance band or weight to perform hip airplanes—just your body weight. Start by standing on one foot, then bend at the waist until just before the point at which you feel you’ll lose your balance. At the same time that you lean forward, point your raised leg out straight behind you and hold your arms out straight on either side of your torso. Once you’re stable in this position, rotate your torso from one side to the other. This well engage your core and glutes, and it’s a great way to get your strength workout started.
Walking balance beam (6 to 10 steps each way)
Lowther’s next exercise is another simple one that doesn’t need any band or weight. First walking forward, raise your knee and give it a hug. While hugging, look both ways, then take your next step and repeat with the other leg. After six to 10 steps forward, do the same but while walking backward.
Crab walks with arms (10 steps each way)
Now you’ll need your resistance band. Holding the ends in your hands, step on the band with both feet about shoulder-width apart. Then, trade ends in your hands, creating an X with the band. Once you’re in this position, take a step to the side, pretty much as far as the band will allow you to go. At the same time, pull the band up with your arms. This combined movement will create tension for your arms and legs, making the exercise more difficult but also more effective. Be sure to side-step in both directions.
Kettlebell swings (20 to 30 reps)
Kettlebell swings are a classic exercise that engages your back, legs and core. Despite the exercise’s name, you don’t have to use a kettlebell. Instead, you can use any weight you have (just be sure to hold on tight so you don’t let go during the swing). With your legs a bit more than shoulder-width apart, hold the weight in front of you with both hands. Then, hinge at the waist, bend your knees and bring the weight between your legs before thrusting your hips forward while swinging the weight up in front of you to about face-height. At this point, don’t let the weight fall on its own, and instead control its descent back between your legs before you repeat the motion.
Banded hip flexors (15 reps per leg)
Place one foot on your resistance band on the floor and then wrap your other foot in the band. Lift the wrapped foot up, bringing your knee to about waist-height. You’ll need to play with resistance here and find the perfect level for you. It should be tiring but not too arduous to get your reps in.
Single-leg deadlifts (10 to 15 reps per leg)
Holding your weight in one hand (or a weight in both hands if you have two available), lift one leg and slowly bend toward the floor. The weight(s) should descend parallel to your legs, and your raised leg should extend behind you (just like you did with the hip airplanes). Keep your core engaged and back straight, then straighten back up.
Standing clamshells (10 to 15 reps)
Wrap the band around your thighs, just above your knees. Bend your knees slightly and stand on one leg. Once in the correct position, bring your raised knee inward, then rotate it outward. Repeat until finished, then switch legs.
Goblet squats (15 to 20 reps)
You know how to do squats, and this exercise simply adds weight to the movement. Holding your weight in front of your chest, squat down nice and deep, then press back up in a controlled manner.
Reverse lunge with twist (10 reps per leg)
Once again holding your weight in front of you, lunge backward with one leg, then twist your torso to either side. Step back up and repeat the process. After you finish with one leg, be sure to carry on with the other one.
Ultrarunner Jazmine Lowther appears on the cover of the 2023 Trail Special Issue of Canadian Running, on newsstands now. Lowther won the 2022 Canyons Endurance Runs 100K in California, and finished fourth at UTMB’s CCC race in August 2022. She will represent Canada at the World Mountain and Trail Running Championships in Austria in June 2023.