5 Mobility Exercises for Half Marathon Training

May 15, 2024

Half Marathon Training: 5 Mobility Exercises For Runners

The Philadelphia Half Marathon, with its iconic route through the historic streets of Philadelphia and along the scenic Schuylkill River, presents a distinct set of challenges for runners. From managing over 860 feet of elevation gain to tackling the slippery cobblestone paths, your race depends on more than just endurance. Based on recommendations provided by the trainers at City Fitness, this article delves into targeted mobility exercises for runners that aim to equip you with the strength and flexibility needed for this unique course. 

As you prepare for the Philadelphia Half Marathon, learn how to optimize your training to embrace the rolling hills and finish strong on the slight uphill towards the half marathon’s end.

Defining Mobility in Running

When we talk about mobility for runners, we’re referring to the range of motion in your joints and the ability to move freely while maintaining control. Unlike flexibility, mobility combines strength and movement, which is necessary for dealing with the race’s hills and unpredictable cobblestone sections.

5 Essential Mobility Exercises for Hilly Terrain and Uneven Surfaces

Whether preparing for the Philadelphia Half Marathon or any race with challenging terrain, integrating specific mobility exercises into your training can significantly enhance your performance and resilience. The proper mobility exercises can boost your strength, stability, and flexibility, helping you master hilly runs and navigate uneven surfaces with ease.

If you’re just starting to consider adding mobility exercises into your marathon training, review five of the most essential mobility exercises for runners:

1. Lunges with a Twist

Purpose: Lunges with a twist strengthen legs and improve hip mobility. The twist portion of this exercise also engages the core and enhances thoracic spine mobility.

How to Do Lunges with a Twist

  • Start in a standing position, step forward with one leg, and lower into a lunge, ensuring your front knee is vertically aligned with your ankle.
  • As you lunge, extend your arms forward at shoulder height.
  • Rotate your upper body toward the front leg, keeping your arms extended.
  • Rotate back to the center and return to the standing position.
  • Repeat on the other leg.

2. Single-Leg Deadlifts

Purpose: Single-leg deadlifts target the hamstrings, glutes, and core to improve balance and stability, which is essential for uneven terrain. Since strength training for runners is also necessary, this mobility- and strength-focused exercise is an excellent addition to any running training plan.

How to Do Single-Leg Deadlifts

  • Stand on one leg, with a slight bend in the knee.
  • Hinge at the hips to lower your torso forward while extending the free leg behind you for balance.
  • Reach your hands toward the ground, keeping your back straight.
  • Return to the starting position, engaging your glutes and hamstrings.
  • Repeat on each side.

3. Step-Ups

Purpose: Step-ups mimic uphill running, strengthening quads, glutes, and calves while improving hip and knee mobility.

How to Do Step-Ups

  • Stand in front of a bench or step.
  • Place one foot on the step, press through your heel, and lift your body up until the leg on the step is straight.
  • Lower back down with control and repeat.
  • Perform the same number of reps on each leg.

4. Calf Raises on a Step

Purpose: Calf raises on a step strengthen calf muscles and enhances ankle mobility, which is crucial for uphill segments and uneven paths.

How to Do Calf Raises on a Step

  • Stand on a step with your heels hanging off the edge.
  • Push through the balls of your feet to raise your body upward, elevating your heels as high as possible.
  • Slowly lower your heels below the step level for a deep stretch.
  • Repeat the movement.

5. Side Leg Raises

Purpose: Side leg raises strengthen hip abductors, improving lateral stability on uneven terrain.

How to Do Side Leg Raises

  • Lie on your side with your legs stacked and your body in a straight line.
  • Prop your head up with your hand or rest it on your arm.
  • Lift the top leg toward the ceiling in a scissor motion while keeping it straight, then lower it back down with control.
  • Perform the exercise on both sides.

Incorporating these exercises into your running routine will prepare you for the ups and downs of a hilly course. They’ll also enhance your overall running mechanics, making you stronger and decreasing your chances of injury.

How to Integrate Mobility into Your Half Marathon Training

Adding mobility exercises to your routine isn’t just about ticking a box—it’s about finding when and where they fit best. Integrating these exercises can pay off for those prepping for the Philadelphia Half Marathon. Research suggests that regular mobility work can boost your running economy, making you feel stronger and last longer during your run.

As you try to add new mobility exercises to your half-marathon training, follow the tips below to set yourself up for success:

  • Make It a Habit: Aim to mix mobility exercises into your routine around three times a week. To keep things balanced, pay attention to all the essential muscle groups.
  • Warm-Up Wisely: Kick off your runs, especially the ones with lots of hills, with some dynamic stretching. This type of stretching gets you prepped for the ups and downs and the mixed bag of surfaces you’ll face in Philly, from smooth roads to those tricky cobblestones.
  • Wind Down Correctly: Don’t just stop cold after your run. Instead, ease out of it with some targeted mobility work. It’s a great way to help your muscles recover and stay limber, setting you up nicely for your next workout.

Train for the Philidelphia Half Marathon at City Fitness

Now that you know how to integrate mobility exercises for runners into your marathon training routine, it’s time to get training. At City Fitness, our expert trainers can help improve your mobility through dynamic stretching, specifically targeting the hips, ankles, and thoracic spine. In addition to assisting with dynamic stretching, we have personal trainers who know all about running and how to support you in reaching your running goals.

Review our many locations in Philadelphia to find a gym in your neighborhood. If you’d like to give one of our gyms a try before signing up for a plan, please enjoy our free trial!