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The Workout Every Runner Is Missing

Tier 3+ trainer and RunCross instructor Miriam Wasmund has the secret to building a faster and fitter runner's body.

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Relentless forward progress may be the mantra of many a runner, but if a fitness program relies on mileage alone, that progress will eventually come to a screeching halt. “Running is a natural human movement, yes, but it needs to be treated like a sport,” says Brooklyn Heights-based Tier 3+ trainer and group fitness instructor Miriam Wasmund, herself a marathon runner (and Alvin Ailey-trained dancer). “Long-term, one wouldn’t dance or play football without any training and expect to do it well. This is no different.” 

Hence the need for running-specific training programs like Precision Running and RunCross. “Both were born out of wanting to create smarter, injury-free runners who have longevity in the sport,” Wasmund says. “We’re teaching our runners it’s a way more dynamic beast than that lace-up-and-go mentality. We create powerful runners with more dynamic healthy movement patterns so that, yes, they can take it to the streets, take it to races and run for years to come.” 

In Wasmund’s RunCross classes, she caters to a mix of those training for the upcoming New York City Marathon in addition to non-runners looking for a great cross-training workout and beginner runners who want an outdoor workout with a group dynamic. 

In the gifs below, Wasmund demonstrates a series of moves that one might encounter in her RunCross class. Here, she breaks down the components: 

1) Dynamic Prep: "We always start with dynamically activating muscle groups and patterns that directly pertain to running. For example, getting the shoulder girdle open, balanced and lubricated so you can drive your arms efficiently can aide in a powerful stride." 

2) Strength and Muscular Endurance Set/AMRAP: "Running being rather singular in its locomotion can create overuse injuries or injuries from anterior chain muscles becoming more dominant then is good for the body," Wasmund says. "So we explore the counteracting and often neglected muscle groups to help fortify the joints, create postural integrity and strengthen weak areas."

3) Speed/Agility/Reaction Drills: "We always work different speed, agility and reaction drills in, as a solo effort or team work, to put the activation, strength and running dynamics into action."

The Workout: The 12 exercises below can be incorporated into other workouts or done as a whole. Perform the 4 active prep moves for a high rep count of 16 to 20 or for a time duration of 30 seconds each, cycling though each move then repeating the whole set. Follow with the strength set, which should be done as a circuit of 10 to 20 reps each for 5 minutes total or AMRAP. (Note: As Many Rounds As Possibles should always be considered as many good quality rounds as possible.) Finally, perform the drills either between the AMRAP sets or at the end of the workout. 


(1) DYNAMIC PREP: Transverse Pike Reaches: Start in plank position. Lift your hips high to come into pike position with a tight engaged center (downward dog); reaching through the center, rotate your torso and reach your left hand to tap your right ankle, keeping your arms and legs as straight as possible. Return to plank and repeat on right side. Alternate sides continuously, coming back to plank between each. Perform 16 to 20 reps. 


(2) DYNAMIC PREP: Alternating Plank Reach Hamstring Kick-Back: Start in forearm plank position, elbows directly beneath shoulders. Extend right arm from shoulder, palm facing in thumb up to ceiling, so that it is parallel to the ground; return to start, then repeat on left arm side. Follow with a hamstring curl on each leg, kicking right heel towards your right glute; return to start, then repeat with left leg. Alternate through both reaches and kicks to equal 1 rep. Perform 16 to 20 reps.


(3) DYNAMIC PREP: Hip Opener Skip: Standing tall, bring right knee up to waist height to meet left elbow, then immediately open hip up to the right so that right quad is perpendicular to body. Return to start and repeat on left side. Do 16-20 reps total. (Note: This is a dynamic exercise that can either be done from a stationary position, or in a forward-progressing skipping motion.) Use natural contralateral arm swing throughout movement.


(4) DYNAMIC PREP: Lateral Band Walks With Arm Drive: Stand with feet about hip-width apart, in a quarter squat position, knees slightly bent, elbows bent by sides, a band around your quads just above the knees. Keeping your hips back in an active ready stance, as if you are reaching to sit in a chair, back tall, abs engaged and chest open, take a step about a foot to the right with right foot, pushing band out to side, landing on a flat foot, as you drive left arm forward, right arm back. Step left foot in so feet are back to hip-width apart again, keeping resistance in band, driving right arm forward and left arm back. Continue this sequence for 8 to 10 steps to the right side; switch directions and repeat in reverse until you return to start. Do 16 to 20 steps total.


(5) AMRAP: Pike to Superman Rolls: Lying face-up with legs together and extended and arms extended above your head, engage your core to bring your hands and feet together so that your body forms a V. (Pause at top for added challenge.) Return to start, then immediately roll your body to the left to turn onto your stomach and perform a Superman, engaging your core to simultaneously lift your legs and arms as high off the ground as possible. Roll back to your back and repeat, alternating the pike and Superman for 10 to 12 reps.


(6) AMRAP: Single-Leg Dead Lift With Cross-Body Reach: In a tall standing position, lift right knee as high as possible, then hinge at the hips, reaching right hand towards floor and extending right leg behind you so that it is parallel to the floor, keeping a long spine and extending your left arm out and back. At the bottom of the move, rotate your torso to the left and pause. Return to start; repeat on opposite side. Alternate for 8 to 10 reps per leg. (Note: This is a dynamic exercise that can either be done from a stationary position, or in a forward-progressing skipping motion.)


(7) AMRAP: Lateral Forward Bounding with Backpedal Return: Using contralateral arm and leg drive, bound diagonally forward with your right foot as far to the right as possible (the trick here is you are actually pushing off the outside leg in the opposing direction, for example, pushing off left leg to go towards the right), then immediately bound to the left with your left foot. Alternate 10 bounds forward, then backpedal back to start and repeat for 2 to 3 sets.


(8) AMRAP: Broad Jump Burpee: In one fluid motion, pass through these 3 steps: 1. Squat low, throwing arms back toward your hips, then using the power from your squat position, thrust your hips and arms forward to jump as far forward as possible, landing softly in a squat position. 2. Using that loaded squat to rebound, jump straight up in the air, again landing softly. (3) Passing through squat position, place your hands down and shoot your legs back into a plank as you would in a burpee. From plank, jump feet forward to squat position and start over. Do 8 to 10 reps.


(9) DRILLS: Lateral Hurdle High-Knee Shuffles: Arrange at least six hurdles in a row, setting them about 2 feet apart from one another. Facing forward, shuffle laterally down the line, lifting your right knee high and stepping between the first hurdle, then lifting your left knee high and stepping your left foot down.(Each foot should touch down only once between each hurdle.) Progress down the line; sprint back to start. And do the opposite direction. Keep alternating 45 seconds of shuffling with 15 seconds recovery, then repeat for a second and third set, trying to achieve greater quickness with each effort.


(10) DRILLS: Anchored Band Sprints: Anchor a super band to something very sturdy, like a weight machine, tree, goalpost or a partner. Step into the band and place one end of the band around your waist/hips; facing away from the anchor, walk out until you feel firm tension on the band pulling you back. Using your oppositional arm and knee drive, lean forward and sprint in place against the band for 30 seconds. Take 30 second rest, then sprint 45 seconds, followed by 45 seconds rest. Repeat for a second and third set, trying to achieve greater quickness, resistance and higher knees.


(11) DRILLS: Lateral Cone Jumps: Arrange a set of cones in a line. Standing on one side of the line of cones, lower yourself into a deep squat, then use your arm and hip drive to jump laterally over the cones, landing softly in a deep squat. Immediately repeat in opposite direction. Pace yourself and continuously jump side to side for 30 seconds; take 30 seconds rest. Repeat for 45 seconds with a 45-second rest. Repeat for a second and third set, aiming for greater power, height of jump and quickness with each subsequent set.


(12) DRILLS: Gear Changes: This drill is designed to help you find a greater understanding of speed variations and effort/threshold. Divide a length of running space, i.e. a field, a block, a track, into 4 even-length sections (perhaps mark off every 20 yards with a cone). Consider your speed as 4 different gears: Gear 1 is slow, gear 2 is medium, gear 3 is hard/fast, and gear 4 is a dead sprint. Running from cone to cone, you will switch gears always ending with the dead sprint. Repeat 3 to 4 times.



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Photographed by Mike Rosenthal; Art Direction + Styled by Ashley Martin Heckman