Do you ignore your core?

Jack knife pile

My only experience with physical therapy was five years ago for knee pain from my first attempt at marathon training.  Part of my therapy sessions included the jack knife pile on a  medicine ball, which I hated! They were so hard, and I couldn’t figure out how that exercise could possibly be tied to my knee pain. But I respected my PT, and did what he said.

In retrospect, it wasn’t the running that did me in, it was the lack of balancing my running with any other strength exercise. Not least of which was my core.

I wish I had known then what I know now.  Not only does a strong core help to prevent injury, it can actually make us stronger runners.  Strengthening the core muscles can provide more stability, better balance and improved posture, all of which leads to greater endurance and a better running technique according to this article.  That means we can be more efficient while also decreasing our risk for injury.

Since learning my lesson the hard way, I have maintained some sort of core routine, usually 3 times a week.  Sometimes I only have time for a few rounds of sit ups and push ups, other days I include a wider range of exercises like those outlined here: planks, side planks oblique twists, back bridge, and supermans.  And occasionally, I make it to a class that incorporates core strength- Yoga, Body Pump, and finally this week, Pilates.

I haven’t been back to Pilates since before I was pregnant, so I’m counting my class this week as my May New 2 U Cross Training challenge with Kim.  The instructor was a substitute, and not as challenging as I had hoped, but I came away with a happier core. It’s still hard for me to not feel like I’m “wasting” an hour of exercise when I’m not sweating, but I know it pays off.

Pilates is also beneficial for runners.  Pilates is especially helpful if you have:

  • weak inner thighs
  • hips that drop or twist when you run
  • tight hamstrings, calves, hips or IT bands  (What runner doesn’t have tight hamstrings?!)

You can find other Fitness Friday posts at Jill’s link up!  Do you pay attention to your core? What does your core routine look like?

52 thoughts on “Do you ignore your core?

  1. I learned the value of toning your core after I started getting pain in my lower back. My physiotherapist had me doing core exercises (mostly planks and side planks), and in no time I saw a difference in the shape of my tummy, as well as controlling the back pain. I stopped going a couple of months ago, and I have slacked on exercises though! Got to get back into it!
    Joann@womaninreallife recently posted..May FlowersMy Profile

    • Isn’t it funny how we have to learn the hard way? As long as we’re feeling good, it’s easy to slack in that area. But there are so many benefits for day-to-day activities as well, like the back pain you mentioned!
      Laura recently posted..Do you ignore your core?My Profile

  2. Not nearly enough, and look where it got me! I think what you say is especially important for post-partum women (though you shouldn’t just launch into a full-blown program–you need to get your core back slowly and carefully or you can make things worse). Good post! I like seeing what other people do for their core routines.
    Terzah recently posted..The Angry Break-Up PlaylistMy Profile

    • Yes- pregnancy can really do a number on our core. I know core strength (or lack thereof) isn’t the only cause of injury, but it’s amazing how beneficial a little core work can be!
      Laura recently posted..Do you ignore your core?My Profile

  3. I used to be pretty good at incorporating cross-training/strength/core stuff, but now my weekly running mileage is getting up there and I find it really hard to fit in non-running things. Thanks for the reminder about how important it really is. 🙂
    Carrie recently posted..Tales of TorontoMy Profile

    • I always have the same problem when my mileage goes up– it’s just not possible to do it all every week! But I think a little here and there is better than nothing. 😉
      Laura recently posted..Do you ignore your core?My Profile

  4. Good point Laura. I think that core work is very important. I do a plank a day and yoga once a week. I should probably do more, but trying to fit in strength, cross training, core etc, etc, etc…plus my 6 days a week of running (I know. It’s really too many) is hard some weeks! So once a week yoga it is! For now!
    Travel Spot recently posted..Running Related Tidbits (2)My Profile

    • I hear you! I feel like I should be doing x # of miles, plus cross training, plus strength, plus yoga…it’s just not feasible to do it all! Were you always a 6 day a week runner?
      Laura recently posted..Do you ignore your core?My Profile

      • NO! I always ran 4x/week. I decided to use the Hal Higdon advanced schedule this time around and it calls for 6 days, but to be honest, I just add two of them together and do 5. Who has time to run 6x a week!
        Travel Spot recently posted..Snakes and StonesMy Profile

  5. I would have to say- NO!! 🙂 Ever since I started the Core Challenge on October 1st I have spent at least 10-15 minutes on my core everyday. It doesn’t take long but it is an easy way for me to stick with it and it works. I probably need to change up the routine because I’ve been doing the same thing so long but for right now it works. 101 push-ups (boy/ girl-whatever I can do) and 3 sets of 45 ab exercises.

    I have tried pilates and was not a huge fan. I know they really work and so many people love them. I just couldn’t stay consistent and it didn’t keep me motivated. I think it’ so important to find something you like and keep with it. I used to ignore my core so that’s when I came up with the Core Challenge.
    Tia @ Arkansas Runner Mom recently posted..Where to Begin??My Profile

      • I love that you do some every day- I’m moving in that direction, too. It’s so much easier than setting aside an entire hour for Pilates, or another class. I wouldn’t say Pilates is my favorite either, but depending on the instructor, I’ve had some good classes.
        Laura recently posted..Do you ignore your core?My Profile

  6. I really love working my core. And I think it really does help balance everything out. My physical therapist is big on this as well. He is also big into balance so I’ve really been trying to work on that as well.
    I haven’t tried pilates, but think I would really like it.
    Jen recently posted..marathon photosMy Profile

  7. I am the worst about ignoring my core! Before I got pregnant, I went to a weekly hot yoga class which really helped. But, I am dying to get back some core strength because my back and other muscles feel so weak when I only run. I tend to focus way to much energy on running but really need to make an effort to got to a class once/week and do some mini core work after my runs during the week!
    stephanie recently posted..Week 31 and Counting…My Profile

    • Running is always my first choice/priority, and I go through phases of more or less ab work. Pregnancy is a tough time to figure out how to work on the core, especially in the third tri!
      Laura recently posted..Do you ignore your core?My Profile

  8. just tried pilates for the first time ever a couple weeks ago. it was not what i expected. and my core was ANGRY for a couple days after the workout 😉 i’m typically really bad at keeping up with workouts that are not running..but i’m going to try.

    btw, i made those garbanzo brownies – LOVE them! thx for sharing the recipe.
    runner26 recently posted..What I’ve been doing..My Profile

  9. Funny how most of us don’t pay attention to our core until we injure something else; back, hip, knee…
    I teach a core-specific class that focuses on proper breathing, neutral pelvic tilt and engagement of the deepest muscles. We don’t sweat so much as breath heavy (and grunt)! I minimize the number of crunches/sit ups we do, instead focusing on stabilization before adding mobility.
    Sounds like you figured out the value of core training too!
    Tamara recently posted..Exercises for knitters and sitters: stretch and strengthen to avoid repetitive strain injuriesMy Profile

  10. You are correct, no running with no core and other exercises can cause injury and the sad part is that most of us runners find out the hard way! I do a yoga video usually twice a week and a strength video or my own routine.or weights once to twice a week as well. It definitely helps to do core work. That jack knife looks hard, I need to get a balance ball and try it!
    Kris recently posted..Thirsty Thursday – Oh How He Loves UsMy Profile

  11. i do core work at least three times a week…especially now that i’m five months post-baby! i have a lot of catching up to do 🙂 i used to do pilates regularly and i had great results from it, but as you mentioned i have issues with spending so much time on it when i’d rather be sweating like crazy doing something that has me in constant motion!
    bekkah recently posted..the blair witch houseMy Profile

    • Good for you for being so consistent! I had a Pilates class I loved before L and before we moved, so I haven’t been able to replace it yet (and with kids, it becomes more difficult to find that extra hour!) I think doing ab work on our own can have similar benefits…. although I do slack more when it’s just me!
      Laura recently posted..Do you ignore your core?My Profile

  12. Laura your post is timely. I just had my last [hopefully] appt with the ortho for the strained abductor and we talked about balancing running and cross training. More specifically strength training your quads, hips and core for overall alignment.

    It seems like there is always one thing that is ignored that shouldn’t be. Right now it’s the core for me. Run. Strength Train. Core. Legs. Nutrition. Trying to fit it all in!
    Jill @ Fitness, Health and Happiness recently posted..Fitness Friday | Being Flexible and A New Running GoalMy Profile

    • Yes, quads, hip and core- they all work together and are so important for runners! I feel the same way- it’s hard to fit it all in! I guess we find the areas we want to zone in on, and prioritize those.
      Laura recently posted..Do you ignore your core?My Profile

  13. Great post and thanks for all the links to great articles. I went to PT for my knee, due to weak glutes and core from my pregnancy. I teach barre classes so I’ll sneak some workout in that way but do try to do them a few times a week. It’s so important to crosstrain, including flexibility training or yoga into your wokouts. Anyways, visiting from Fitness Friday Blog hop!
    Lisa {Smart Food and Fit} recently posted..HIIT Me Up with a GymbossMy Profile

  14. I totally ignored it, and that’s how I injured my back. Not anymore! I’ve been hitting up the gym 4 times per week and doing tons of core. I actually did the exercise you have posted yesterday. I can feel it today!!
    Allison @ Johnson Jocks recently posted..Mixed BagMy Profile

  15. I need to get focused on my core again, I was doing great for awhile but then tri training took over! I have Jillian Michaels 6 week six-pack dvd so Mike and I are going to do that during marathon training! Plus we will add more strength training to our routine.
    Jamie @ couchtoironwoman recently posted..I Need to Stop Researching RacesMy Profile

    • Glad to connect with you, Beth- thanks for stopping by! Weights and core is always the first thing to go for me, but I think I’ve learned my lesson the hard way enough times to make it stick, at least twice a week like you!
      Laura recently posted..Purposeful running- Robin’s journeyMy Profile

  16. Pingback: Core strength: Can we skip the crunches? |

  17. Pingback: Two strength workouts for runners |

Comments are closed.