Strong Legs, Happy Knees, EMPOWERED Runner

There’s nothing like running. Seriously. Any way you head out for miles and it’s amazing! On the road or trails. Solo or with friends. Long or short. All runs are great runs!

If it were up to me, I’d go out running for hours everyday. Unfortunately, my knees aren’t the biggest fans of my running addiction. (Or my skiing addiction.) Not too long ago I actually went for a couple of years without running regularly, thinking I’d passed my running prime. At 24. HAH!

Thanks to a dedicated physical therapist and my roommate at the time asking me to run on some beautiful Colorado trails, I fell in love with trail running. I was able to fall back in love with running, and actually able to run regularly once again. That summer I was able to run 3-7 trail miles 5 times a week, plus hiking and rushing around a restaurant with stairs for work, and all pain free!

There are a few things I do that help keep my knees happy and healthy to run another day…

  1. Rest! - I sometimes have to force myself to take rest days, but I’ve learned that giving my body time to rest and recover is SO important! It helps me come back harder and faster on my next day of sweat! And don't forget to stretch it out! Stretching and restorative yoga are great ways to spend your rest days!

2. HIIT & Flow - Discovering this activity, created by Jamie King, has been a big training game changer! It helps me train hard (oh the sweat, oh the muscle burn) but impact free, perfect for my cross-training days.

Get your HIIT & Flow on at home! 

3. Get my legs strong! - These exercises are not necessarily anything revolutionary for most of us that have been in the fitness industry for a long time. But it’s always helpful to have a reminder that these 7 moves can help keep my legs strong and safe for when it comes time to get my miles in:

  • Squats

  • One-legged squats

  • Warrior 3 dips - Start this hamstring strengthener standing upright with your weight all in your left foot. Keep your left knee slightly bent and quad engaged as you lean your heart forward and right leg back. Rise back to standing. 8-10 reps and then switch sides.

  • Walking lunge with a twist - Step forward from a standing position. Bend your front knee to 90 degrees and dip your back knee into a lunge. Twist in the direction of your front knee. Step your back foot up to return to a standing position. 8-10 reps.

  • Side lunge with a resistance band - Wrap the resistance band around your calves and squat down. Keep the squat as you step out to one side. Keep moving in one direction 8-10 times, and then switch directions.

  • Standing leg raises with a band - Feel free to grab a wall or something to help stabilize you for this one. Wrap that resistance band around your calves and shift weight to your left foot. Turn your right toes out a bit and kick slowly back behind you at an angle into the band. 8-10 reps.

  • Leg presses - Normally I use the machine at the gym for this exercise, but sometimes you need to modify and get creative… 😉

Keep in mind, the exercises were given to me by my physical therapist for my specific knee issues (aka, I am not a trained PT), but they’re good exercises to add to anyone’s, especially runners’, strength training routines. And don’t forget your cross training, stretching, and rest days, runners!


All ready to hit the trails and pavement to get those miles in? Join us in the Bay Area for the EMPOWER Race Series in August! Not in the Bay Area? Join from wherever you are for the virtual race!

For THIS WEEK, get 40% off your race registration with the discount code SWEAT! 


Register now!

Liz Wilson

Liz Wilson

I'm a Southern girl, born and bred. I grew up not only playing sports, but dancing, hiking, skiing, and canoeing. After college, I postponed grad school, completed my 220-hr yoga teacher training, and moved to a ski town in Colorado. In my years there, I discovered the "wow" factor life has to offer. Between the skiing/hiking/trail running in my backyard and the traveling in the off seasons, nearly every day contained something to marvel at. I'm now in the Pacific Northwest, still teaching, still exploring, indefinitely postponing law school, and pursuing a career in fitness-related social media management. I love sharing my journeys, discoveries, and marvels!

3 thoughts on Strong Legs, Happy Knees, EMPOWERED Runner

  • This post is SO timely for me. I just started running – like really running – last month and, typical rookie mistake, I went too hard and too fast (to be clear, not actual fast, just too fast for me) and ended up really pissing off my knees. I’m restarting my training at a more moderate, reasonable pace. 🙂

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