Core Workouts for Runners

Endurance runners sometimes miss a very important component in their training to aid in a successful run. Core strength is vital for running longevity and crossing the finish line faster and with less pain. The stabilizers in the back and abdominals keep us upright and provide part of the movement of the leg that propels us forward. If your core is weak from poor posture or lack of training, your shoulders may hunch forward closing off your airway and diaphragm making it more difficult to breath. You may also experience lower back pain or hip mobility issues. The quadriceps may not work effectively when the core is not performing at its best. If the quadriceps are not working well, your run will most certainly suffer. When we talk about the core, we are not just talking about the "abs." The core includes, not only your "six pack," but also the muscles on the sides of your waist, the lower back, glutes and the hip flexors. All of the core muscles need to be strengthened and stretched to prevent muscle imbalance.

To aid in maximizing core strength, you can add a few core exercises into your routine. These can be done with very simple equipment (or none at all). These should be performed 2-3 times per week:

  1. Plank - Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute with precise form. Rest for 30 seconds and repeat. Work up to 3 sets.
  2. V-Up - 10 repetitions and rest for 30 seconds. Work up to 3 sets.
  3. Russian Twist - Use a medicine ball or dumbbell and do 10 repetitions per side and rest for 30 seconds. Work up to 3 sets
  4. Back Extensions or Superman - 10 repetitions and rest for 30 seconds. Work up to 3 sets.

Always include stretches to improve hip mobility, like the hip flexor stretch to your stretching routine. Upper and lower back stretches are vital after a long run. if you are unfamiliar with the above exercises or stretches, work with a personal trainer or physical therapist to aid you in important strengthening and stretching. As always, consult with your doctor before starting a training program.