With runner’s, it almost always comes down to the core- core muscles that is. Our core muscle group supports our bodies with every step we take. So what is the core muscle group anyway? You may get varying answers from people when you ask this question as some experts have included or excluded different muscles. The biggest misconception is that the core muscle group is limited to just your abs, when in fact the core consists of your quads, gluts, abs, lower back, and even shoulders. So why are these important to runner’s?
A good way to answer this question is to picture a recent local 5k you may have run. At the finish line the crowd becomes excited as a young runner is nearing the finish line. This young warrior is pushing hard, sprinting to get to the finish. His or her arms are swinging almost violently and his or her head is pushing from side to side with grit teeth as every arm swing pushes the runner forward to the finish. Yes, this is quite an enjoyable moment to witnesses, but in terms of running mechanics it is a great example of core break-down.
Now picture the perfect stride. The effortless “natural” stride of a runner that looks as though they are just gliding along. This stride is what we tend to see when the winner of the race is crossing the finish line. This is the stride that is an example of strong core muscles. So how does this work?
The core muscles, if strong, can help keep you posture erect, keep your arms swinging back with the same frequency, thus keeping your legs moving forward with the same stride length from when you start a race to when you finish. The core muscles, if strong, will keep you from hunching over as well. Hunching will shorten stride length, decrease oxygen intake into the lungs, and eventually result in a struggle to the finish line.
A host of core workouts are available on the web. I recommend searching words such as “core workout for runners, planks” Planks are a common exercise that are used from beginners up to the elite level. So, remember although the heroic young arm throwing and head swinging warrior is fun to watch cross the line, it’s the efficient runner with a strong core muscle group who is most likely to set PR’s and hit goals…. GOOD LUCK!
Living the Run is thrilled to publish Marty Kinsey’s Weekly Blog, “Running With Coach Kinsey!” Coach Kinsey is the head coach for the men’s and women’s cross country teams at St. Mary’s College (Division 1) in Moraga, California. You can look for Running With Coach Kinsey every Thursday.
Men’s and Women’s Head Coach
Cross Country Coach
Saint Mary’s College