Although practicing your sport is one way to continue to improve, becoming a better and stronger runner also requires you to spend time off the track. Our friends over at Shape, along with fitness expert Jessica Smith, crafted a sequence that targets and strengthens the muscles used for running — but doesn't require you to actually log extra miles. And, to keep things interesting, they designed the routine around a Swiss ball.
The primary movers for running are your legs, glutes, and core. A Swiss ball overhead squat challenges those muscles. To do this exercise, stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart and hold the Swiss ball in both hands. Raise the ball so it's overhead, with your arms extended straight up towards the ceiling. Now, hinge at your hips, bend your knees, and lower into a squat. Be sure to keep your arms extended overhead as you lower. Push through your heels to stand, keeping your arms still. That's one rep.
Adding in exercises like this one either before or after you run, or on your "off" days, will help improve your stamina, strength, and ultimately, your stride. Head over to Shape to see the rest of the Swiss ball routine. (Shape)