Why Just Running Isn’t Enough : The Importance of Core Strength Part I

Core strength is something typically overlooked in many running programs today.  There seem to be two camps siding against the inclusion of core strength in training.

The first are mileage purists who believe the best, and at times, the only way to improve, as a runner is to run.  The second camp is more typical saying they only posses a limited amount of time for training and believe, “I’m going to use the small time I have to run as much as I can because I can get the most out of my training that way; I don’t want to waste my time doing exercises.”  Part of this opinion may be from ignorance because the trend seems to be that if you ask most athletes, coaches or trainers “what is core-strength” and “why do you need it”, many of them would have trouble deciphering exactly how to answer either question.

However, this is a subject that needs to be understood, as there are great implications in training and competition that stem from core-strength.  These implications can lead to large scale improvements.

What is Core Strength?
To answer this, we must first understand what is the definition of the “core.”  The core can be roughly defined as an area of the body that extends from the knees upwards to the bottom of the rib cage.  For many people this is news as the core is typically thought of as only the abdominal muscles or the “abs.”  When you look at this much larger area, we see that a very large amount of the muscles needed for running are included in this knee to rib cage section.  Many of these muscles are known as stabilizer muscles.

Core strength can then be defined as strength that helps in the stabilization of the body.  When thinking about what the back, abs, and hip girdle of the body do, they are the key stabilizers in any activity that involves upright movement.

How do you incorporate core training into your running program? Tomorrow’s article will tell you how.

By Guest Author John Peter

John Peter is a Level 2 USATF Certified Coach in Sprints and Hurdles. He is in his 8th year coaching High School Cross Country and Track and Field in Northern Minnesota.  In this role he has helped guide 15 athletes to the state meet where 8 have earned all-state honors.  He competed in college for Minnesota State University-Moorhead.  He has also coached post-collegiate athletes to sub-2:30 performances in the marathon.  In his free time he likes to hang out with his wife and kids and he also likes to ride his bike.


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