Today's guest blog is by Akron Marathon Operations Director Laura McElrath. One of the best ways to prevent injury is to prepare your body for the new demands you are asking of it. A Blue Line Beginner recently asaked Laura to share some strength training exercises, and she described her favorites.

"The following exercises can be easily done at home with no or minimal equipment.

To increase strength, do these 3-4 times per week. To maintain your strength, do them twice a week. But some is better than none so if you can only fit it in once a week, that's better than not at all!

On each exercise, do 2-3 sets of 15-20 repetitions each.

1) Reverse Step Ups Stand with your back towards the first step in a set of stairs. Step up (backwards) onto the stair with each foot and then lower back down to the ground with each foot. Do all 15-20 reps on one leg and then switch legs and repeat. This is a great exercise for those with knee pain. It helps to build up the quadricep muscles which is the main muscle group at the front of the thigh.

2) Calf raises Stand with your toes at the edge of a stair (have a railing to hold onto). With both feet on the step (single leg once you get strong enough) raise up tall on the ball of your foot then drop down so your heels drop below the step. This exercise strengthens your calf muscles and when you drop your heels below the step can help with Achilles issues. Can help those prone to shin splints.



3) Toes raises Stand on a flat surface with feet together. Raise your toes off the ground without your hips pushing back, or bending at your hips. This exercise strengthens the front of your shins. Can help those prone to shin splints.

4) Planks - Lay on your stomach and place your elbows underneath your shoulders. Raise yourself off the floor so your body is in a straight line from your heels to your head. Strengthens your core muscles. Help with back pain and makes you more stable.

5) Single leg balance - Stand on one leg and balance for 30 seconds. If that is easy they try it with your eyes closed. Next step is try it on a pillow, then try it on the pillow with your eyes closed. Works the stabilizing muscles in your feet and shins.

6) Running with weights - Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and have weights in your hands. With elbows bent at 90 degree angles, swing your fist from your hip up to your chin and back. Works on strengthening your arms for running motion.

7) Push-ups against wall Stand with your feet about 3-4 feet away from a wall. Face the wall and place your hands should width apart with fingers facing up. Bend at your elbow while keeping the rest of your body straight until your nose touches the wall.

- Laura

*****

Ok, I just finished my first rotation of all these exercises. It took me about 30 minutes or so because I was checking my form and reading directions - I'll bet I whip through these much faster the next time. I did 15 reps each of three sets. For the most part, I paused about 10 seconds between each set.

1 & 2) Those first two exercises are also good for plantar fasciitis, so I was happy to do them! I don't have steps in the house so I used the steps on my deck outside. I did them in my bare feet. 3) The toe raises were easy, but I was feeling the burn after three sets. 4) I'm not sure I was doing this right. Intend to look for something more descriptive and try again. 5) Single leg balance was easy, so, as Laura suggested, I closed my eyes. That was NOT easy. Will be interesting to see if I can learn to do that for more than 15 seconds. 6) Running with weights is similar to something I've been doing at the gym. I think that's helped alot in terms of making my arms comfortable in running position. 7) Push-ups was easy to do, but after three sets, I could tell I'd had a workout.

Overall, super easy to learn and no excuse for not zipping through these a couple of times a week! Small price to pay for getting through the Akron Marathon Race Series with minimal injury or down time.

- Paula