Today’s Tuesdays on the Run topic is Core Strength and Running, which is coming at a perfect time for me as I find my training ramping up (speed work and tempo runs next week). I know how important it is to keep regular strength training as part of a running plan and yet still, I put it off or forget about it even though it can be easy to work in. Core work is the one thing I’m pretty regular about because I definitely notice a difference in how I feel with my non-running life when I keep up with planking more so than with all of the other strength training I know I should be doing. Thanks as always to April, Patty and Erika for hosting!
Core strength is important for daily life as much as it is for running, in terms of improving balance (key for long injury free life!), avoiding/minimizing back pain and improving stability with movement. Those issues are especially important with running. Your mechanics are a lot more efficient when the center of your mass is stable, right? I even remember reading somewhere that adding core strength makes you faster and who wouldn’t like that? Sadly, I don’t think core work is necessarily going to be the complete solution to having abs of steel thanks the layers of fluff and loose skin we tend to carry over those stellar muscles so I tend to focus more on the FUNCTION I’m gaining with core work than any cosmetic benefit.
First, a caveat: I’m not a trainer or sports medicine professional of any kind so these are just the things I like. Always get advice from an actual professional!
Planks are definitely my go-to core exercise because they hit so many different muscle groups (abs, back, arms) and because I can fit them in anywhere/anytime. Here’s a link to the basic plank if you aren’t familiar with them (sorry I have no personal pics!). It’s important to think about your form and be sure you’ve got everything aligned – holding it longer in a bad position won’t do any good! My personal planking best is 2 minutes. I’m thinking of re-instituting a plank every day goal to see if I can beat that.
I have a couple of plank variations I like as well, that I was introduced to by my trainer back in the day when I had one. They up the ante in terms of arm and shoulder strength and as a busy mom, anything that allows to work out multiple muscle groups (core and upper body) is one move is a huge bonus. Check out plank up and downs here (plank on forearms up to full arm and back) and plank with shoulder taps here (that’s a good starter list of body weight exercises in general). What’s really cool to me is remembering that I literally COULD NOT do these when I first started with the trainer back in late 2012/early 2013, but got stronger and got the hang of them. Even better, I still can do them even though I’m definitely not as diligent with my strength training these days. I still remember Darrell laughing at me as I attempted to demonstrate the up and downs in his office while telling him how evil and crazy my trainer was for thinking a human being could do this. Darrell, of course, could do them easily. Darn testosterone.
For more about the importance of core strength and running, as well as some workout ideas, check out these links:
Definitely check out the Tuesday on the Run link up today for more workouts and more info about the importance of core work with running!
On a more personal note, my breath literally caught this morning when this showed up in my Facebook feed:
I cannot believe how fast he’s growing up. I vividly remember this Gymboree playdate and it seems like only yesterday. Instead, I now have a big kid who proudly spelled both Oliver and Jessica for me in the car today (he’s learning to spell my name because he likes me – swoon!) and who has a pre-K graduation already on my calendar. On the one hand, I want to go back and relive my smooshy baby over and over and on the other, I can’t wait to see what he grows up to be. All the feels this morning, seriously.
What’s your favorite non-crunch core workout (I hate crunches!)? Be sure to share and to check out the Tuesdays on the Run link up for more ideas for core strength.