Core training can often be overlooked when it comes to running, yet it may be one of the key ingredients when it comes to being successful. It is true that you can get in very good shape – both aesthetically and physically – from running alone, and progressing your running in terms of endurance and intensity (see my past post about the FITT principle), yet to get in peak shape running alone is not the answer.
Your ‘core strength’ is defined as the amount of load your stomach and lower back muscles can withstand. Furthermore, another determination of a a runners core strength is how long and hard they can run for before losing their form. When you think of a runners form you think: Equal strides, back straight, head up, hips elevated, knees picked up. Yet people who are particularly new to running do not understand that the control of your form comes from your core muscles; when your core muscles tire, you lose your ‘perfect’ runners form.
When you start to lose your form, you start to wobble, not being able to keep your torso upright. Your hips begin to drop, meaning you struggle to keep your back straight and head held high. You struggle to bring your knees up to the same height, causing a disruption of stride which further implements your balance. Overall, a loss of form leads to a very inefficient running style, causing you to slow and waste more energy. As you can see from this, it is very important for a runner to hold their form if they want to run fast and improve.
The best way to hold your form for longer is, surprise surprise, train your core! A stronger core leads to better form held for a longer period of time, and the development of core strength goes hand in hand with the development of ones athletic prowess.
There are many ways to go about core training, but the key is – just like with running itself – to keep it consistent and progressive. For example, if you are new to core training, you can do 4×30 seconds plank with 30 seconds rest (Correct planking form can be found easily on YouTube). To keep this training consistent, you could do it multiple times a week. To keep this training progressive, you could either increase the duration of plank repetitions (e.g. 45 seconds) or the quantity of repetitions (e.g. 6×30 seconds). Another way to increase core strength is to simply download ‘7 minute Abs’ – an app on Apple and Android – which gives you multiple exercises to complete in 7 minutes, all targeting your core.
The truth is, there are lots of ways to develop your core strength, but use this matter as means to keep it exciting; instead of repeating the same exercises everyday, change up the exercises and routines, as long as you are consistently developing your strength the way in which you do so doesn’t have to be set in stone.
If you want to be a quicker and more efficient runner, train your core.