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You want to be a runner?
Of course you do, why not? Everyone can run! (best cheerleader voice).
I’m being funny of course, but if you do want to be a runner, especially a Mother Runner, you need to strength train.
Runners are notorious for skipping mat or weight workouts in favor of a longer or extra day of running. I run right? Eh? I stretch… sometimes. That’s enough.
It’s really not. For one you are INCREASING your risk for injury by not core training in conjunction with running.
There’s a symbiotic relationship. A circle of life if you will, to maintaining a strong healthy body.
Yeah that last one sucks sometimes. Especially when you just want to eat donuts and watch Netflix. Or in my potato addicted case munch down a bag of sweet potato chips and watch Supernatural (#teamdean) and drink a jar (or 2…) of wine.
I just totally went off topic.
Ok, coming back to the topic at hand.
A strong core means a balanced runner. To simplify, your arms and legs and head stem from your trunk (core) and the better your core control, the more control you have over the movement of your limbs and extremities. You will have better form, better weight and impact distribution , better balance and posture. All that equates to a stronger, faster and more INJURY FREE (big big bonus there) runner.
Staying injury free is important for a lot of reasons, but any mom (or main care giver in general) will tell you how it’s the dawn of the apocalypse in the house if mom is out of commission. And women who have given birth and carried babies (or men and women who have gone through dramatic weight gain and loss or other destabilizing events) will have weaker core and pelvic strength. Additionally women’s bodies can take up to (sometimes over) a year to get back to pre-pregnancy stability. I’m not talking baby weight, I still have extra 15 of those from my first baby (he’s 13…). I’m talking about joints, internal organs, hormones etc. So be kind to yourselves and take it slow. Slow is worth stable and healthy gains. Going hard and fast will just land you on the DL.
We briefly went over what a core consists of in the first post in the series. But runner’s particularly want to focus on shoulders, chest, back, obliques (side abs) and abs (rectus/traverse). The strength in those area helps keep the torso stabilized and keeps your form fluid (not wobbly). It also keeps your stride even avoiding missteps. You are also able to make split second (ankle saving) adjustments in stride when you encounter obstacles. Like rocks, pot holes, or have to make sudden jumps into the soft sandy shoulder of a road because a driver isn’t paying attention. Ninja!
What are the best moves for runners?
I prefer dynamic (multi movement) exercises. Something that engages multiple muscle groups and throws your balance just enough to train you to compensate by engaging the core.
Here’s a link to a good set to start with that require no weights.
A few of my favorites (and someday I’ll get up the guts to do a photo set or video set. But I’m kind of shy believe it or not):
- Russian Twists- I use a weight (you can use a dumbbell, plate, medicine ball…kbell… etc) and raise my legs for added benefit
- Hip Bridges (GLUTES)- I rest a plate (or any weight) on my lower body for extra benefit, it does feel awkward FYI
- Plank Rows- Gotta be honest I ALWAYS have to focus on my form with these, if I’m feeling bad ass I’ll add a push up. I use a bell, I cannot get down with the dumbbell plank row, it just never feels stable to me. But it is another option.
- Lunge and Wood Chop- Want to talk about throwing your balance… Go slow and focus on form with these. I use a kettle bell with my chop (which is a twist over the opposite leg), but you can go no weight to practice the motion. Alternately you can lunge and pass a weight under your leg, a kettlebell is easiest for this.
- Goblet Squat With a Chest Press- Alternately you can do a bicep curl at the bottom. I use a kbell, but you can use a dumbbell.
- Single Leg Deadlifts– These are awesome. And tough. You really need to work your balance. You can go no weights, dumbbell or even a medicine ball. I use a kbell, duh. Adding a set of pulses after your deadlifts (hold it and pulse the extended leg) can kick it up a notch.
Those are *my* favorites but there are numerous ways to compound any basic core exercise. Additionally side and curtsy lunges are fantastic and also variable. But they are NOT my favorite. I know, strange. And I do them. But I do not LIKE them. 🙂
One last note, before I continue rambling and lose you all to my nonsense.
Variety. It’s the key to life right? It’s also the key to a strong core. Start small sure. But switch it up, try different tools keep it inconsistent. I tried and discarded a lot of different core methods before I’ve found some that I love. And even then I’m always looking for something a little different. Your muscles have long memories and it’s good to shake them up. Make them work a little differently. You’ll get better results. Just be sure not to isolate. Ya know, don’t skip leg day bro.
Do you strength train? What are some of your favorite moves? Who do you follow, if anyone?