Today, no small talk and no talk about atoms, death, aliens, magic, faraway galaxies, and the meaning of life.
But what about strength training? The first years of marathon training, I didn’t do enough strength training.
Of course, every runner (from beginner to advanced to professional) hears & reads on a daily basis that Core Stability exercises are a “must” in order to avoid injuries, and in order to increase performance. It’s in every magazine, it’s in every book, and it’s all over the internet.
At first, I didn’t understand the necessity. I thought to myself: if you run a lot, you must be strengthening your muscles automatically, no ? Because of all this training, your muscle strength will be getting better, and everything will be OK.
I kept avoiding strength training, until injuries forced me look into this topic more carefully.
The Big Book of Marathon & Half Marathon Training explains it: “You need enough core, hip and lower-leg strength to keep your pelvis and lower-extremity joints properly positioned. Healthy running should be as symmetrical and fluid as possible. If you don’t have enough [core] muscle balance, you lose symmetry, and that’s when you start having problems. […]
[Core strength / stability] is chronically weak in people who only run and bike, because it is not worked by those activities.
Often, this weakness doesn’t cause any trouble when you’re running shorter distances, but as soon as you step up the mileage or intensity, you start to notice it.”
Exercises like these ones from Runners World are really helpful : for example “planking” exercises can be made easy at the beginning, and then you can step up, make them more difficult, etc.: http://www.runnersworld.com/workouts/10-essential-strength-exercises-for-runners.
However, for many runners, just looking at such pictures is already tiresome.
The article promises : “Do these exercises consistently, and you’ll run faster and stronger”.
That may be true, but how many runners do these exercises frequently & consistently ? Out of that group, how many of these runners truly enjoy the exercises ?
I found it difficult to be self-disciplined about this, so I started to take Core Stability classes with Dieter De Bie. He made me suffer big time … and it helped me a lot ! So, many thanks to Dieter. I could feel the “before” and “after” difference. After taking these classes, it literally felt like running in a more stable way, being stronger, etc.
The benefits are clear and outspoken. For example, a couple of minutes per day already lead to different kind of improvements: “7 Things That Will Happen When You Start Doing Planks Every Day“.
Says CM: “Stevige core spieren of een goede core stability zorgen ervoor dat je dagelijks beter functioneert en kunt bewegen en sporten met minder kans op blessures.
Met enkele eenvoudige oefeningen kun je deze core spieren trainen, waardoor ze verstevigen”
Question is, of course : how can we change core stability exercises into something that runners (and non-runners) perceive as ‘fun’ ?
For example, does anyone know great apps that make these exercises more fun and playful?
Recently we worked with Bart Delobel, and we did some basic exercises. Perhaps that’s the first key to the solution: getting started, together with an expert, and starting with easy-to-digest exercises, allowing you to explore this type of exercises at your own level, and then enjoy the improvements.
Once you’ve started and once you start to feel the improvements, it’s (relatively) easy to continue. One thing that definitely seemed to help to make these exercises more fun was to do some of them in pairs and to alternate.
Often, runners (including myself) enjoy spending a lot of time on taking decisions with regards to running shoes, heart-rate monitors, gadgets, etc. Unfortunately, planning and doing core stability exercises seems to remain a less exciting part of the running business to deal with, but it’s equally (or more) important.
This remains a tough nut to crack: getting addicted to running seems easy & it happens all by itself, but getting addicted to Core Strength exercises hasn’t been a straightforward process, so far.
If you google this, there seems to be very little information out there, on making Core Stability exercises more fun.
Any tips & tricks, or insights, anyone?
I trained hard, I enjoyed the preparation, and a last-minute injury (a couple of days before the race) proved to be innocent.
I was happy about the result, and joining this marathon as a club race with MMC was a great experience, with the hotel being less than 250 meters away from start & finish, and of course, with a nice club Dinner afterwards …
Barcelona will always remain one of my favorite cities !