Q: Do marathon runners really need to worry about core strength?
A: OOOOWEEEEEE YES! Enough said? hahah, kidding!
There is absolutely NO movement that won’t benefit from a strong core, the core is the ‘glue’ that holds your entire body together! A strong core leads to stronger limbs and this makes you a walking or running (in your case) powerhouse!
With distance running in particular (or any running actually), these are a few of the benefits you will experience from developing a stronger core:
* Your posture will improve, this allows you to run more ‘economically’ leaving you looking like a gazelle while running and not a rogue warthog. It ensures that your chest is fully expanded and allows the diaphragm to move properly and lungs to expand fully, increasing oxygen intake and uptake, leading to more energy, better performance and better recovery! Your run time will improve drastically, test it, I dare you!?
* Improved balance, ensuring that you decrease your chance of injury. When your core is weak you experience a chain reaction of ‘strain’ on your body, particularly misaligned pelvis which can cause lower back pain, hamstring strain and ankle problems! You also stand less of a chance of taking a dive on the road or trail when you trip up, leaving you recovering gracefully with little to no damage to your bod or ego!
* When fatigue sets in (especially in those last few km’s) the first thing to go is your technique, posture and general vooma. Once these backslide, your body has to work extra hard to keep you going as ‘economically’ as it can. Most runners start to lean forward and this causes strain on the lower back and squishes the lungs, hampering breathing and causing compensation in other muscles. Not fun at all! A strong core will make sure you are able to maintain proper posture even while you experience fatigue, putting the body under less strain, helping you breath properly and ensuring that lower back pain just something ‘other’ people experience!
* A strong core maintains stability while the energy from the floor moves up through your foot, leg and around your body. A weak core will lead to a ‘mexican wave’ of movements that happen as the body tries to control the energy transfer! Wasting energy on compensating and not focusing on performance!
* When your core is strong, this strength is transmitted into your limbs and strong legs makes for stronger running!
A few additions to your weekly regime can ensure you experience these awesome adaptations! Many make the mistake of progressing too quickly as they feel stronger. Progress is good yes, but even though your cardiovascular system (heart and lungs) is ready to move to the next level ensure that your structural bod is ready to move along aswell i.e. your core. You won’t regret it!