Thursday, January 19, 2012

Marathon Training and Core Work

I’m running!!  After a 3 day hiatus after my Rock and Roll Arizona marathon, I’m back to pounding the pavement again.  I ran 3 miles at 7:45 pace.  If I am being honest?  It hurt somethin’ fierce.  (Best said with a bit of a southern drawl and a corn cob pipe - and a banjo)  I’ve never recovered very quickly from all out marathons and this one was no exception.  My quads are still actually a bit sore to the touch - although, I’m finally not walking with a corn cob pipe in the deliverance butt gangster limp.

No idea why I took this picture a few months back
(I'm not even sick now!)
I’d like to think that my poor recovery is because I have a high pain tolerance during the race.  But, isn’t that what everyone WANTS anyone else to think when they hurt?  “Yeah, I’m in pain. It is probably a 6 on the pain scale.  But, I have a HIGH PAIN TOLERANCE so it is probably like a 11 on your pain scale.  I’m just going to grunt through it.  You’d be crying in the fetal position though.  You suck”  This is most often said by my wife whenever she is sick.  Truth is, I’m almost entirely convinced that it IS because I’m a complete wuss.  It’s OK though, what I lack in pain tolerance I make up for in swagger.

As I turn the page on another marathon cycle, I always like to do a few things in an attempt to avoid the Marathon Blues. (That lack of goals feeling that leads to watching Biggest Loser on the couch while eating an entire bag of baked Doritos. You know, because baked is healthier.)  I usually take a bit of time to reflect on the marathon training cycle gone by (consulting speak: a post mortem) and try to once again start doing all of the things that I harp on to the people I coach: core work, strength training, cross training.

Right now I’m really focusing on core work and plan to work in the others as the weeks go on.  The great thing about core is that:

  • I already have a really good core routine courtesy of Jamoosh and his Hard Core Club v1 (before he got all commercial with v2)
  • When you get a 6 pack you can be one of “those people” that seems to always have their shirt off no matter what
  • I can finally get those porn star “star” tattoos on my belt line
  • It doesn’t require any “tools” or a gym membership, just me, a yoga mat, and some lovely gravity that was so much of a pain in the ass the last time I went out drinking
  • Most importantly, core really IS important for running speed and endurance.

From Runners World (as well as a few medical articles I’ve read):
As you extend your stride or quicken the rate of your leg and foot turnover when you're trying to pick up your pace, the lower abs-including the transversus and rectus abdominis-and lower back are called into action. The stronger and more stable these muscles are, the more force and speed you can generate as you push off the ground.  As you're nearing the end of a race, a solid core helps you maintain proper form and run efficiently, even through fatigue. With strong lower abs and lower-back muscles, such as the erector spinae, it's easier to stay upright. If your core is weak, you may end up shuffling, slouching, and putting too much stress on your hips, knees, and shins.

So, a strong core makes you go faster and last longer.  Sign me up!!  Something tells me that those two traits will have benefits during activities other than running. (Biking, duh).  I'm starting out with planks, situps, pushups (surprisingly good on your core), and side raises and moving on to some of the more advanced positions.  6 pack and star tattoos here I come!

Do you core?  What are your favorite core exercises? 



Razz said...

Have you ever...EVER...posted anything with less than 3 pictures?

I'm impressed/jealous

Jen said...

I just started to consider building my core. Will have to check out the 'hard core' link.

Porn tattoos are definitely tempting and an incentive.

Yeah. and I guess getting faster and stronger would be cool too.

Sarah said...

When I'm out running and can feel the proof that at one time I had humans inside me waggling around, I vow to return and work on my core. And then I return and start a load of laundry. And read your blog. And do something else. And never do core work. Sad reality.

TriMOEngr said...

AbRipperX - 16 min and 349 ab moves (if you can keep up with the ripped P90X'ers - I'm at about a 2:1 ratio right now so 150-175 exercises for me). "I hate it, but I love it!"

I've also done some good ab workouts from Self Magazine. They had one a few years back that I ripped out that was all standing ab/core work - no crunches! And it worked! Here is a link to it:

Annette@(running)In the Right Direction said...

Awesome...I could use abs -minus the tattoo work. Thanks for the links!

pensive pumpkin said...

My yoga instructor is all into core work right now. I hate her. Grrrr.

Michael said...

Ahhh...core work (and stretching). The not-so-fun part of running.

One of the exercises I use is what I call "Bent leg 'leg ups'". This is a modified version of what one might do hanging from a pull-up bar, and slowly bringing your knees to your chest. I personally lie on my back, with my knees bent and my thighs perpendicular to the floor.
I cross my ankles, then slowly bring my knees up to my chest / head (focusing on using the lower abdominals exclusively (or at least mainly)), then return back to the starting position.

Seems like I've read in a couple of places though that planks (both standard and side planks) are actually better for runners than abdominal exercises that cause us to flex/bend our torso. Since the end goal in running is to maintain an upright position and not hunch when tired, the planks simulate that end result.

I personally just do a variety to include it all (although I need to step it up a bit).

Nicole@TheKidlessKronicles said...


The Kidless Kronicles

Missy said...

I do core and I swear while doing it. It helps. My favorite is doing a plank with your feet on a ball then up to a pike with a push up in between. It trashes those abs fast.

The Banter said...

I pegged you to be one of those girls with butterfly tattoos on your back.

Beth (i run like a girl) said...

If you aren't at least sore after a marathon, you didn't try hard enough. So: nice job! :)

Core issues: Yoga at least once a week, and my all-time favorite core exercise is the Russian twist.

RunningLaur said...

No one else has commented this yet?!?!

"makes you go faster and last longer." TWSS.

TriMOEngr said...

Oh RunningLaur - how did we miss the chance to comment on that phrase?? FUNNY!

Sue's Ramblings said...

Yup, do them everyday - crunches, leg raises etc and I finally ran outside in my sports bra 2 weeks ago! Didn't think I would have the courage to display/humiliate myself with my layer of fat...but I did it!

Jamoosh said...

Well now, look at you all hoity-toity with a yoga mat for your core...

I just use the floor!

lolamako said...

I second P90X ab ripper. You can usually find a bootleg copy online to watch.

Pop Pilates ab videos are BRUTAL and free, they are on Yout*be.

Indigo said...

Does sucking in your gut and laying on your bed in order to zip up your skin tight jeans count as core work? I'm just curious ....

Planks! All day and all night! OR, just for 90 minutes once a week during power yoga class. I used to do some obscure routine that I got out of Runner's World that I remember included laying on the ground with a hand weight in my hand, arm outstretched, and then standing up without using my other hand, then laying back down again. It works. If you keep doing it. ;)

Laura said...

True pain tolerance: breaking your foot on the way to a 2 hour dance rehearsal, and not realizing until the end of the rehearsal when I was like "hmm my foot is kind of sore."

Alternately: fracturing a vertebra in a car accident and not getting x-rays done till a week later because "my back only hurts a little bit... it's probably just bruising from the impact."

Best core routine: Insanity. DOOOOOOOOOOOOO IT!