If you’re like me, you think the fitness world has come to an end if you can’t run. Silly. Ridiculous. Nonsense you say.

Well of course that’s nonsense, but try telling that to someone who uses running as more than just exercise…it’s therapy. You can bike and swim and elliptical all you want, but it doesn’t give you the same mental release or emotional freedom that running does.

The hardest part about returning from an injury is not being able to go out and pick up where you left off. You can’t always run through an injury, but there are some things you can do to keep you ready to hit the pavement when you’re all healed:

Yoga

Balance is essential for running. The act of running involves switching your entire weight from one foot to the other over and over again. Add in a couple potholes, a tree root, or a piece of debris in the road, and you’ll be relying on your sense of balance more than you know.

Having good balance helps you run smoother and more evenly, saving you precious energy for later in your run.

yoga poise

Pilates

Your core is the center for your running. A strong core holds the rest of your body in proper alignment, which helps prevent injury and helps give you a more powerful stride. Any ab workout will help, but make sure you focus on the entire core, and not just the lower abdominals.

BodyPump

(Or other strength training.)

While a strong core is essential, a strong upper and lower body is important too. Sure, running works the muscles in your legs, but it doesn’t target every single muscle- it tends to focus on the big ones. Actively targeting all the muscles in the legs will help improve your stride, prevent fatigue, and my favorite, help prevent injury.

A strong upper body may seem unhelpful when it comes to running, but it’s just the opposite. Strong arms and shoulders help you keep good form when running. Plus, it’s one less set of muscles that can get tired during your run.

women weight training

Stretching

Not many people like to stretch. If you’re not naturally flexible, it can be pretty uncomfortable. Activities like yoga and ballet can make it more fun, but sometimes you just have to do it on your own.

Not only does improved flexibility keep you from being sore after a run,  it increases your range of motion, which can make you faster or more efficient. Stretching also increases blood flow, which helps you recover faster.

runner stretching

What do you do to improve your running, not including running?