Rotten to the Core

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor.  I don’t play one on TV.  I didn’t stay in a Holiday Inn last night.  And any claim made in this post is strictly stuff I looked up on the internet.  I take no responsibility if you end up in the ER with an injury!  But if you do, I’ll probably be in the bed next to you.

As a runner/triathlete/wanna-be, I’m always looking for ways to get stronger.  You can’t just run/bike/swim and expect to get better.  Your workouts have to mean something.  They need to be structured in a way that helps you improve.  In years past, I just pounded the pavement, and the water, and expected to be a better athlete.  And even though I came into this game really late in life (at 45 years old), I should be a better athlete than I am.  Out of my 5 marathons, two were DNFs and not one was under 5 hours.

That’s all going to change this year.  One of my 2017 goals is to put some serious structure into my training.  After all, I want to complete a full Ironman this year and you can’t do that successfully if you’re not diligent in your training.

But my first goal is to break that 5 hour mark in a marathon.  The first marathon of the year for me is in April at the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon.  I’ve run this race three times before, twice the full and once the half.  As a side note, last year I was a bicycle escort for a blind wheelchair participant.  That was one of the greatest things I’ve ever done and I highly recommend volunteering for that duty if you get a chance.

Anyway, to accomplish my running goals, I feel I need to start with my core.  I’ve always have a pretty strong core but it’s nowhere near where it should be.  I’m not talking about losing belly fat (of which I still have plenty, even after a 45 pound weight loss).  I’m talking about strengthening the muscles underneath all that collection of beer, whiskey, and carbs.

What Exactly Is The Core?

The core is a complex series of muscles that helps serve as a stabilizer center rather than a movement force.  If you look at any sport, they all start from the core.  Football, basketball, wrestling, tennis, running, hockey, soccer; they all start with the core and move out.  All of those sports are vastly different, but the main set of muscles that guides them all is centered around the core.  The core is the foundation.  The rest the house!

Ok, enough of the background.  So what can you do to increase your core strength?  Everyone has a different idea of what increases core strength.  I think the only thing I’ve found that a lot of scientists can agree on is that sit-ups are no longer an effective way to build core strength.  However, the one exercise that was on just about every list I researched was the plank.  There are so many variations of the plank that it has become the go-to exercise for core strength.  I actually have a friend who can hold a plank for 7 minutes!  And yes, her core looks freakin’ amazeballs!

Where do you go from here?

I won’t list all the exercises I found because there are dozens.  But I will list a couple if links if you’re interested in taking this a little further.

Competitor.com has a list of Four Key Exercises for Core Strength that is a pretty good start.  The best part is that you don’t need anything but floor space and determination!

Active.com put together a list of 13 Essential Core Exercises for Runners that seems pretty good. These exercises even break it down to the different sections of your core and how to strengthen each.

Whatever you do, research what’s best for you and stick to it.  And when you develop those six-pack abs, show them off!

Good luck and have a great year.

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