Tuesday, September 3, 2013

At the core of it all

Today's workout: run 2 miles, then 2 sets of 50 walking lunges, 10 burpees, 1 minute plank, 25 squats, then a 2 mile run back
Nick hangs on for the last few seconds of his plank

The most observant readers will notice a couple of things about the training plan. Yes, it is based off a plan designed by Jeff Galloway, an Olympic distance runner, but it has one key difference. We have taken out one of the weekly 30 minute runs and replaced it with cross-training. We did this for a couple of reasons. Most simply: we are already cross-training on Tuesdays with a group of guys we really like and neither of us want to give that up for the next several months while we get ready for the half. More importantly, however, is the significance of core conditioning for distance runners. And yes, for the purposes of this endeavor, 13.1 miles qualifies as distance running.

But why focus on your core when it's your legs that are going to be taking the beating? I'm glad you asked. Susan S. Paul, in her article on runnersworld.com says this:

“Especially with distance running, core muscles become very important in the latter stages of a race when fatigue sets in and form begins to fall apart.”

We use our core muscle groups for everyday activities. All the time. They keep us straight up and down while we are sitting, they keep us balanced while we are walking, and they keep us in form while we are running. And that is the key. The road is nothing like a treadmill, there are bumps and potholes and uneven surfaces all along the way. Keeping proper form is what allows your body to keep moving through all of that. We don't tip over or veer off course when we find ourselves on an uneven shoulder because we keep proper form. The trouble is, though, the muscles that keep us in form fatigue just like any other muscle. They may take a little longer since we are using them every day but in an endurance race, we need to have endurance all over.
The truth is that even on cross-training days we are running. Usually about 4 miles.

As we continue, you will be seeing some updates from us that include our cross-training and core workouts from our Tuesday group. You may learn some things and you may have good things to share. We welcome them in the comments below!

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