Here at the RUNiverse we talk a lot about how important it is for runners to take a balanced approach to fitness. Instead of focusing exclusively on running and the muscles it works, we should make sure we’re training all parts of our body and taking overall flexibility and strength into consideration. But if you’re anything like me, you are guilty of being fully aware that you should be putting more effort into strength and cross-training while at the same time completely neglecting both. That’s where the Runner’s World’s fitness test might come in handy.
The test is composed of 10 different exercises, designed to test flexibility, balance, mobility, and flexibility in key areas of your body. It requires that you establish your results for each exercise, and tells you whether your fitness level in that particular area is “Fair”, “Good”, or “Great”. The exercises are as follows:
- Plank: hold as long as possible to test core strength
- Push-ups: complete as many as possible to test upper body strength
- Squats: complete as many as possible to test lower body strength
- Reclining hand-to-big-toe pose: see how close to your body you can bring your extended leg to test flexibility
- Standing stork: time how long you can hold the pose to test balance
- Bar squat: see how low you can squat without letting the bar fall forward to test joint mobility
- 400m sprint: see how fast you can complete one lap of a standard track to test speed
- Treadmill tempo run: see how much distance you can cover in 30 minutes to test endurance
- Step-ups: check your heart rate after three minutes of step-ups to test cardiovascular strength
- Wall stance: stand with your back against a wall to test posture
A short video demonstrates how each exercise should be done. Additionally, there are suggestions for ways to improve your fitness in any given area. These suggested exercises are also demonstrated in the video.
Looking at this list of exercises, I can already identify several areas in which I know I could use some improvement. My core and upper body strength are pretty sad (in spite of the plank challenge), my flexibility could probably use some work, and I know my speed and possibly my cardiovascular strength are not where they should be. As a runner, I find it hard to take a step back and remind myself that sometimes investing a little bit of time into other areas of fitness might be just as effective as running a few miles (if not more so).
Do you make time to work on your overall fitness? Can you think of areas that you might need to improve?