This week we are talking about core strength for runners. The core is more than just the abdominals. Do you work all the muscles of your core? If you don't work all the muscles equally you put yourself at a higher risk of injury.

Stephanieruns Fitness

March 25, 2018 Newsletter

Core Strength for Runners

As I'm sure you know I'm a big believer in strength training especially for runners. Last week was the first of three newsletters on strength training for runners, it was on the arms and upper body. Your upper body helps to support your running form which means strength training the upper body can help prevent your upper body from falling forward as you run further distances. Your arms help propel you forward, try running without your arms. It'll be incredibly awkward and you might even fall. Strength training your arms can help your running efficiency. If you missed last week's newsletter or want to reread it you can find it here.

Today I want to talk about strength training the core. This past week I've been sharing tips on twitter, I'm @srunsfitness and have really enjoyed your conversation and questions.  When runners think of the core some people just think of the abdominals or planking. The core is more than just your abdominals, the low back is often forgotten and statistically is one of the most common injuries for runners. The obliques are also an undervalued muscle group for runners. The obliques help keep your waist from moving side to side when you run which improves your running efficiency. Strength training your core will help get you to the finish line, but also supports your everyday activities.

I asked on Twitter and Facebook this week: 'When do you do your core workout'. There were lots of great responses. Some of you do core workouts on their own and some of you add them on to the end of your workout, some even add core strength in with other strength training exercises. This is a case where you should do what works best for you. Just one suggestion, if you are doing your core workout at the end of your workout your muscles will be fatigued so make sure you are using good form. Once your form fails you should stop doing that exercise. You should aim to do strength training for the core about three times a week. If you're only using bodyweight you could easily increase that number, but realistically when you're adding core into your training load 2-3 times a week might be all you can fit in.

When you're doing strength training for the core, you want to make sure you're working on the abdominals, lower back, and obliques. The core is very much connected to both the upper and lower body, but as we have already covered the upper body and the lower body will be covered in a future newsletter we'll talk about them own their own. It is important to note that there are exercises that work the upper or lower body that also work the core. The abdominals and lower back are on the opposite side of your torso. It's important to make sure you're working both your abdominals and lower back. The muscles on the side of your torso are your obliques. The smaller muscles of the core tire quicker than the larger muscles which makes it even more important to work on them specifically. You're only as strong as your weakness muscle.

I'm sure you're now asking, but what specific core exercises can I do to help my running? I've included a mini core workout and challenge below. I hope you give it a try and let me know how it goes. If you're looking for more help with a strength training plan specific for runners I have a six week plan to help build muscular endurance for runners available on the training peaks store.

Weekly Challenge: Core 4 Runners

This week I want to challenge you to add this mini core workouts into your routine. You can add this on to the end of one of your workouts or on it's own. If you're doing this as it's own workout don't forget to warm up first! Here's my mini core workout suggestion. Try this two to three times this week.

Complete 3 sets of this mini workout. Give yourself 2-3 minutes between sets to recover.

-back extension (hold 10 seconds)

-russian twists 12-15 reps, you can use a weight 

-plank (hold with good form for 30 seconds)

Don't forget to stretch and foam roll after. Let me know how it goes!

How Long Should You Plank?

Let me start off by saying form is king. You shouldn't hold/do any exercise without good form. Once your plank form is toast, your plank is done. I have done quite a bit of corporate fitness testing. I've seen people lose good form while planking quite quickly which is one of the reasons I'm a big believer in increasing the difficulty instead of the duration of your plank. When you increase the duration there's a greater chance your form will fail and you're no longer targeting the core muscles intended. Bottom line, hold a plank for as long as you can with good form. I recommend planking in front of a mirror. For most people a 30 second plank is attainable with good form. If that's too easy put your toes on a bosu or stability ball, or add weight to your back. That'll get you to challenge your core muscles but allow you to maintain good form!

I hope you've enjoyed this information on core strength training for runners. If you found it helpful please share it and encourage your friends to subscribe. Next week as it's Easter Sunday we'll talk about Family Fitness and the following week I'll finish the strength training for runners series with strength training for the lower body.

Let's keep the conversation going all week on social media! Let me know what you thought of this newsletter.

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Stephanieruns Fitness

461 North Service Rd West
Oakville Ontario,  L6M 2V5 - Canada

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Disclaimer: Always seek medical advice before starting an exercise program. This newsletter is not medical advice. Medical advice should be sought from a medical professional. Stephanieruns Fitness assumes no liability for any injuries as a result of the above content.