core work

An Apple a Day . . .

By Jessica Green

"An apple a day keeps the doctor away." The same can be said for a strength move a day for runners. Each week I preach about getting out there and doing your strength work and for the last two months I've been listening. It's made a difference. My lower back no longer aches from time to time and my hamstring doesn't feel as tight. I attribute a large part of this to my commitment to some type of strength work almost every day of the week. 

What does this look like? In our training plans we often provide suggested strength routines for both core and lower body. These routines typically take 10-15 minutes to complete. That kind of time can be difficult to carve out of our busy lives day in and day out. What's important though is trying to - or at least remembering to think about strength training on a regular basis.  For myself, this means getting down on the ground and actually doing something on a daily basis. On some days, it's only one series of planks/side planks/planks, but on other days it turns into a full blown 20-minute routine. Sometimes I'm in my pj's and other times a sports bra. No matter what it feels great to know that I've done something. The biggest benefit - I stuck to my routine and didn't let another day pass without some sort of strength.

Imagine going a week or even two without running . . . not good, right? Well, the same should be felt for two weeks of no strength.  If you're looking for one move to get you through tonight, start with bridges with knee folds.  They are great for pelvis stability, glute and hamstring strength and help prevent IT band issues. 

Lie on your back with your hands at your sides and bend your legs to bring your feet flat on the ground and about a hands length away from your buttocks. Raise your hips by firing your glutes and driving your heels into the ground. Lift up until you create a straight line from your hips to the knees. Maintain this position by firing the glutes and not flexing the lumbar spine.

Once in bridge position, alternate bringing each knee up towards your chest keeping the leg bent at a 90 degree angle. As you raise and lower each leg, keep the pelvis steady and avoid rocking back and forth. Press your arms down into the ground with your palms facing down to help keep you stable. Continue alternating knee folds for 30-60 seconds. Repeat 2x.

Monday Motivation - Planks


If you know us, you know we love our planks. Every training plan is loaded with planks, side-planks, knee to elbow planks, plank walks, etc. We tell everyone (who will listen) to do their planks daily. However, sometimes, you just don't have the motivation to do them. I'm there right now. I know I should do them, I know how good I feel when I do them daily but as my days and weeks get busier and busier, I find that my daily core exercises are the first to go. I still run, I go to fitness classes but my daily commitment to planks and core work is gone.

I'm recommitting to daily planks and to help, here are my top tips to recommitting to a daily practice:

1. Write it down - schedule it in your calendar or print out a calendar and put it on your refrigerator or post it at your desk.

2. Enlist your friends - make it a group activity! The girls I work with are all about staying healthy and fit. We created a weekly plank schedule and committed to doing it daily. We get some strange looks but people usually join in.

3. Build up - don't start off with a 4 minute plank. Give yourself a month and gradually build up. You'll be surprised how well it works and how strong you get by just adding 10 to 15 seconds a day to your plank.

4. Vary it - don't just do the same thing everyday. Variety will keep your body and mind alert. I created a plank video series. Check it out for videos for how to add variety to your plank workout.


10 Minute Core Power - #FunDay Friday Workout

Most runners don't focus enough on their core, i.e, their abdominals, lower back muscles and glutes. These muscles are key focus areas for runners because they provide the stability, power and endurance. If your abs are weak, it can lead to funky running patterns, i.e, overstriding, understriding or a pelvis that swings from side to side and eventually injury.

How does a strong core help runners?

Strong glutes provide power and stability to power you up hills and they provide support and absorb the impact on the downhills. Strong and stable lower abs, mainly the transversus and rectus abdominis, generate more force and speed as you push off the ground, making you a faster runner. Strong obliques help support your torso and maintain proper form over long distances, and they help you move laterally around a runner in a race or dodging those pesky tourists on your favorite run!

We designed the below workout to hit those target areas. Do this exercise for a week before each run and feel the difference. Overall, incorporate core work into your regular training at least 3 times a week.