I’m pretty sure most of us would love nothing more than to keep putting down miles without being plagued by injury, aches and pains. The truth is though, we have to perform strengthening exercises to keep us running healthy. Think of it like performing maintenance on your car; In order for our cars (and our bodies) to run like the fine tuned machines that they are, we service them. An oil change here, a tire rotation there….you know, to keep everything happy!
The core is the most important part of the machine in my opinion because all movement originates from it. When I refer to the “core” I’m not referring to the muscles that give the appearance of having a 6-pack. The core involves your postural muscles like your deep abdominals, obliques, smaller back muscles, and also your glutes. Having a weak core can lead to injury such as low back pain, hip flexor strains, hamstring strains, SI joint pain, and not to mention decreased running economy which slows us down! We put in so many hours of training in order to get faster, but we’re doing ourselves a disservice if we don’t maintain and service our machine!
One of the best exercises for your core is the plank-not only does it strengthen your abdominals, but it targets your shoulders, legs and glutes as well. Plus you get a lot of bang for your buck with the plank because its variations allow you to work several body parts in a short amount of time!
Below are a couple variations of the front plank you can do before your next run. Oh yeah, I said BEFORE your run! Most people save core for the end of the workout, but I want all cylinders firing before I take off, which means I perform activation exercises pre-run.
Plank With Hip Extension
- Begin in a plank position with elbows in line with shoulders, back flat, and knees straight
- Keeping your core tight and back flat, squeeze your right glute and extend your leg with a straight knee
- Perform 10 on your right side and then switch to your left
- Perform 2-3 sets
- Begin in plank position
- Leading with your right hand followed by your left, push yourself up into a high plank position
- Lower your right arm, then your left to return to plank position
- Try to prevent your body from shifting side to side
- Alternate which side you lead with every 5 repetitions for a total of 10
- Perform 2-3 sets
*Thanks to my fitness model Chris Mongno and to Lacey for making a guest appearance!