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Unlock Endurance: The Core & Upper Body Strength Circuit for High Mileage Runners

Updated: May 8

Think back to your FAVORITE LONG RUN run EVER...

Does it happen to be your strongest?

How did your entire body feel (besides tired)?

Because I'm willing to bet you a new pair of running shoes that:

your legs felt strong

your core solid

and your upper body felt tall and sturdy?

...instead of lead legs, a floppy core, and slouchy, exhausted shoulders?

(We all know what THIS feels like, unfortunately).

Your best runs AREN'T a fluke.

And effective, strong (and fun) long runs can be a regularly occurrence.

But only if you're not missing this very overlooked key.

Yes, we need to build strong legs.

Leg strength is a necessity for injury-free runs, especially long distance ones.

But most runners have that step down (pun not intended).

It's upper strength combined with core stability that brings your long run to life and helps you run further, longer without crippling exhaustion.

Yes, aerobic fitness is the purpose of the long run; don't come for me.

But trying to master the long run without good running form, created by excellent upper body strength, is like trying to run a marathon in clown shoes.

It can be done.

But probably shouldn't be.

So let's jump into the upper body + core combo strength circuit. Time for you to crush your next long weekend run...and make a new memory. :)

Let's go.

HIGH MILEAGE RUNNERS: Long Run Strength Circuit


3 sets each // medium & heavy weights

Overhead Carry with Marching

  • for time: 45 secs X heavy weight

Elongated Runner's Lunge with Power Pull

  • 8 X medium-heavy weight

Elongated Runner's Lunge with Halos

  • 4 clockwise / 4 counter clockwise X medium-heavy weight

Cable Power Push

  • 8 ea side X medium-heavy weight

Run Long without Getting Tired: High Mileage Upper Body and Core Strength Exercises

Overhead Carry with Marching

  • I'm changing things up a bit...

  • NORMALLY: I'd give you a set number of reps. But since we're tackling running longer without getting tired, it's more appropriate to go time based.

  • You can rush your way through reps. You can't rush your way through time! These will feel hard if you grab the right weight and keep pushing these weights towards the ceiling the entire time

  • PRO TIP: as you get tired and your body tries to find the easy way out, you'll start to relax your shoulders, lose height in the weights overhead, and disengage your core. DON'T. Keep your biceps tight to your ears and actively push the weights overhead. You'll feel the sides of your core engage when you do it correctly. This pays off BIG TIME by building fatigue-resistance core and shoulder strength.

Elongated Runner's Lunge with Power Pull

  • I want you to have fun here.

  • THE PURPOSE: row variations are a dime a dozen. But they start to get spicier and more running specific when you put some power behind them. You'll notice in the video, I'm moving FAST. I'm pulling quickly, explosively, but with control.

  • The second part of the exercise is just as important: slowly and again with control, release your arm to the starting position. As I get tired in the video, you can actually start to see where I let the pulley pull me instead of me controlling it.

  • Doing this in the runner's lunge also challenges you to keep 90% of your body weight on the FORWARD leg to continue building glute and quad strength. Work smarter; not harder ;)

Elongated Runner's Lunge with Halos

  • If you don't know this one by now.... then you must be new ;)

  • THE SECRET: if you ONLY do ONE EXERCISE, let it be this one! Halos are my "top secret" strength exercise that looks like running when you add it to a runner's lunge.

  • Again, practice keeping your body weight forward on that front leg (90%). You'll start to feel as you get tired, you'll want to back off. Reset. And try again. Here's why:

  • When we run, we fall forward onto our outstretched leg. We continue to strengthen your legs for that repeated impacted you'll experience on your long run even while directly addressing and building your core and upper body strength.

  • PRO TIP: can you feel how your entire body is involved with this exercise? From your foot to your balance? Not to mention the killer shoulder strength it builds. Your long run won't know what hit it.

Cable Power Push

  • I promise this is not as scary as it looks. In fact, I think you'll actually enjoy ;)

  • WHY IT WORKS: yes, i know you don't need to cut or juke while running a marathon. (But sometimes you do need to move quickly out of the way.) What this exercise does for you is help you build dynamic, powerful core strength in a running-movement sequence.

  • Meaning: you're teaching your body as a whole, how to move strong, powerfully, quickly into a position that looks like your running stride...while fighting the resistance of the cable. Your body is going to encounter similar forces when running hills: powering up the hill and fighting against gravity.

  • Half of this exercise is working on sequencing: getting different parts of your body to talk another in a way that makes sense (aka looks like running). The second half is building more dynamic core strength than what you can get out of a plank. Starting the see the difference?


I'm really challenging you with these core and upper body exercises,

but I know your ready for them and you'll thrive with them too!

Honestly, this has probably been one of the most fun circuits I've put together in a long time.

It challenges you to try new things, train strength in a new way that still looks like running, and helps you build the exact strength you need while running...

especially if you're looking for better long runs where you can go further without getting tired.

I know leg strength normally steals the show, but don't forget about the power your core and upper body can create.

If you're looking for more strength circuits like this designed for runners looking to reach their highest potential and want things nicely organized and done-for-you, I have a FREE 14 Day Stronger Runner Challenge with all the strength workouts are just waiting for you.

Or maybe you're a runner whose looking for better strength exercises for this year's Fall Marathon Season because last year...wasn't all that you wanted it be.

If you're looking to make your Fall Marathon your best yet, you're going to need a consistent, runner-specific strength program that's also designed to fit your marathon training plan.

A lot of marathon runners know about "peak week".

What they don't know is that it's actually a month. And your strength program should also build and "peak" and then taper off in time for race day.

If this is something you've realized you're missing, I want to invite you to sign up for the waitlist for RACE READY, my 16 week strength program for marathon runners looking to run their best, most confident, strongest and injury-free race yet.

You're going to love it and I can't wait to have you!

Until next time running fit fam...

Dare to Train Differently,

Marie Whitt, PT, DPT //

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