Run Tough – What to do in winter when you can’t run

If you’re passionate about running, the last thing you want is to have to stop, but for most of us in this climate, we simply don’t have much choice. Winter has a way of keeping us inside. And that’s ok – winter is a great time for building the strength, balance, and agility you need to run tough in the summer, especially if you want to up your game and try some technical running or ultras.

“Run tough is about exercises and strength training that hones balance and strength. The focus is on core power and stability: one leg strength, proper form and agility. Training to run tough will eliminate the typical issues runners have like knee soreness, Achilles strain, foot pain, and IT band issues.”

– Anytime Fitness Old Strathcona member Una McLeod

If you don’t already have a gym you trust, come on down to Anytime Fitness in Old Strathcona; all of our trainers are professionals who can easily set-up a solid training plan for you. In fact, it’s a great time to come too, because we have a special promotion this month for new members; if you bring a friend, one of you will get half-off the regular price. Training with a friend is always a good idea. You’ll keep each other motivated and competitive, and it’s much more likely that you’ll hit your goals.

Your best protection against injury is a strong, agile body. When your ligaments, tendons, and muscles are flexible and strong, they guard against the endless impacts of a run by improving your form and protecting your joints and bones. In fact, according to Dr. Reed Ferber, the director of the University of Calgary’s Running Injury Clinic, "If muscles are weak, one footfall will not be like the rest. How your knee turns in, your hip drops, your foot pronates changes with each step. But with strength, these movements are the same each time, so your mind and body know what to expect."

So, regardless where you decide to train, make sure your run tough plan includes not only your upper body and core, but also your lower legs and feet. Most people skip the latter entirely but for runners, they’re the most important. Here are a set of exercises that will ensure you get the workout you need:

1. Resistance Band Lateral “Monster Walk”

Set up 4 cones in a 5x5ft square. With a resistance band just above the knees, and if you can, a second one around the ankles, lower your body into a squat position and slowly walk the outline of the cones, keeping tension on the bands. If it helps you stay in character, make grunting noises like King Kong.

2. Romanian Deadlift - “Stiff leg deadlift”:

Be sure that your back and spine stay neutral. Lower the weight until you feel a stretch in your hamstring. Bring your hips all the way through on the “lockout” portion of the lift.

3. Barbell Front Squat:

Load a barbell across the front of your collar bone. The weight will pull your body’s centre of gravity forward, allowing more quadricep activation. Focus on controlled breathing, and stability.

4. Plyometric Box Jumps:

From a standstill on a secured surface, jump with as much force as possible onto a box. Stand up straight on the top of the box, then step off and repeat. This movement allows for activation of the fast twitch muscle fibres. For optimal athletic balance, you need to train a combination of both fast twitch/slow twitch muscle fibres. This exercise also helps with explosiveness.

5. Single Leg Squats:

With your feet shoulder width apart, distribute your weight from the middle of the foot to the heel. While stabilizing on one leg, lower your body into a squat position. This can be done on TRX if it needs to be worked up to. This exercise allows the “stabilizer” muscles to kick in, providing an increase in balance control.

So remember, now’s the time to get your body prepared for the spring, and we would be happy to help you do that. Come and see us today at Anytime Fitness in Old Strathcona, and don’t forget to bring a friend for our awesome December promotion.

About the Author

Matthew Korobanik is a partner of multiple Anytime Fitness franchises in Edmonton. For more information, check out

Anytime Fitness has two locations for your convenience: Old Strathcona (10469-80 Ave.) and Kingsway (10521 Kingsway Ave.)

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