Runner Touch (beginner version)

Single work leg is vital for every runner’s strength routine.

Why? Running really is a single -eg sport, as only one foot touches the ground at any given time. Single-leg strength becomes even more important when running trails.

We are good at developing the big running muscles – hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, and glutes – but neglect the smaller stabilization muscles that keep the hips, knees, and ankles healthy. Runner Touch (beginning version) is a great exercise to start single-leg strength work.

Benefits:
✅ Improved balance

✅ Increased range-of-motion

✅ Engages hamstrings, glutes, quads, calves, and foot muscles

✅ Increase stabilizer muscle strength around knee and hip joints

How to do Runner Touch (beginner version):

  1. Balance on the one leg (working leg), with foot facing forward and knee over the 2nd/3rd toe. Working leg should be slightly bent, not locked.
  2. Grasp dumbbells at the end or use appropriate weight kettlebells.
  3. Contract core, then hinge forward while extending the opposite leg backward with toe pointed. Arms will move downward from the shoulder.
  4. When fully extended, the body forms a letter ‘T’.
  5. Pause, then engage glutes to come back to standing position. Non-working foot gently touches ground by toes. Maintain full weight on working leg. Repeat hinge & stand.
  6. Switch legs and repeat.

Cues:

✅ Engage glute to promote hip extension. Contract the core to neutralize the lower spine.

✅ Start with bodyweight and master form and balance. As proprioception increases, add dumbbells or kettlebells.

✅ Working leg maintains balance through all repetitions.


Progressions:

bodyweight < dumbbells < kettlebells

Trail leg knee drive forward & balance (similar to finish step-ups)

Stephanie Harboe is a RRCA-certified running coach and NASM-certified personal trainer.

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