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How Do I Run Injury Free? The 4 pillars of Running: Mobility, Strength, Speed, Movement

If you haven't googled this question, are you even a runner?

I'm kidding, I'm kidding!...

Kind of.

Us runners, we talk a big game.

"I ran an easy 10miler this morning.. I feel so alive now!"

"Yea, I have my fall marathon coming up in a few weeks. I'm feeling a BQ with this one."

"Hey! I just set a new 5k PR!"

These snippets of our running-lives are amazing; they should be celebrated and shouted from the rooftops!

But we need to remember, these are only the highlight reels of our running journey. And if we're not careful, these highlighted moments will become all too few and far between if we don't take the time to take care of the body that does so much for us.

That's where understanding of the 4 supporting pillars of running comes in. We NEED to know how Mobility, Strength, Speed, and Movement play an integral role in our running routine. And, how they rely on and work with each other. Together, they are the cornerstones of injury prevention!

Don't believe me yet?

Let's dive in.


We think of mobility as feeling "lose", nimble", or “flexible”.

That’s partly true.

But flexibility doesn’t always mean good mobility. And while stretching can be helpful in improving muscle length, it doesn't solve all our mobility problems.

A good definition of mobility is the joint in question (example: hip joint) can move in all the ways it's supposed to without any stiffness or restrictions. A health joint can move freely without any pain.

Mobility is having healthy joints as described above in addition to healthy muscles that are also team players. This means, the muscles surrounding the example joint, the hip, all understand when to activate, how to activate, and how to help support that hip joint while running. That's mobility in motion!


The running community as a whole *knows* they need strength training; that's fantastic! But does our community know that our strength workouts should look different than the strength workouts for football players or skiers or?? get the idea.

We have a unique sport that puts specific demands on our bodies, so we need to strengthen our bodies in that unique way.

The secret?

Strength training for runners should include focus on single leg strength and stability.

You already have strong legs, but is each leg equally as strong as the other? You may think so...but we all have 1 dominant leg. And when we rely on that one leg too much, too often, that’s when imbalances can creep in and injuries can happen. Strength training with the focus on single leg exercises helps runners not only create equal strength for each leg, but also helps us build stability or balance in a single leg position which directly translates into stronger running!


The best example I can think of for speed is watching the track and field Olympic trials or the Olympic events themselves.

Over and over again, you see these amazing displays of athleticism, power, and pure speed. But what makes these Olympians so freaking fast?

Sure, they have years and years of training and performing specific runs. Tempo runs. 150m sharpeners. But there’s something else…

The secret sauce is sometimes referred to as “dynamic warm ups”. But really, it's sequencing.

What is sequencing?

You know it when you see it. Picture these professional athletes and how they run their race: fast, confident, arms and legs pumping…hold on to that last one! These athletes have trained their bodies to move fast; to string together quick coordinated sequences of movement.

Just think about it. Do you ever see a marathoner running with their arms straight down by their sides? Do you ever see a sprinter looking like a flailing mess of arms and legs? No.

They move in a specific, coordinated pattern. Opposite arm, opposite leg. Fast arms equal fast legs.

Now, you still need to do speed work as part of your 10k training plan, but you also need to make sure your sequencing speed foundation is strong and intact.


This one can be tricky, but stick with me.

When was the last time you tried a new exercise or sport for the first time? Did you feel like 2 left feet? Did you feel you just didn't have a grasp on what your body was supposed to be doing? After practicing a couple times, did you start to figure it out? Did you notice a flow started to occur and then..*snap!* everything just fell into place?

You learned to move.

Moving in new ways is the equivalent of our body learning a new language. It expands our movement vocabulary, creating a broader movement foundation. Think about that new sport example. It’s not that your inherently bad at it. It's that you haven’t practiced the movements of that sport-the movement pattern of throwing or the movement pattern of catching. But running-you've practiced this movement pattern a lot, for miles and miles in fact!

Why you need all four of these and how they're all connected.

Each of these separates are useful. You can create entire workouts around each one of these! In fact, we often train them all separately.

But your body doesn't use them individually when you're running. When you run, you're body takes full advantage of all 4 of these at the same time to make that magical motion happen.

Let's dive into this.

As you head out the door to run..

You need the mobility in your hips to take that first stride forward and then swing that leg back. At the same time, you need your body to naturally, automatically, know to swing the opposite arm forward. In background, your body is taking advantage of knowing this movement pattern of running because you've practiced so, so much. On top of all that, your core is strong and stable from the core work you did the night before so you can power up that first hill of your hill repeats.

Does that all make sense?

How everything relies on each other: without all team mates helping, someone has to pick up the slack. You can still accomplish the run even with one team member only giving 50%, but you begin flirting with injury.

The more I've worked with runners in the clinic and engaged with you, fit fam, the more I saw a real need to get this kind of information in your hands. That's why I made my FREE download Finding the Missing Link in Your Running Routine and the 4 Routines to Fix It! In it, I give you 4 routines to practice everything you've read here and I give you the tools to start making these routines a regular part of your weekly workout. Ready to get your hands on it? No problem! Just click in the link above!

And as always, running fit fam…Run strong.

Marie Whitt //

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