My key advice for any new runner who is looking to enter a training cycle is to incorporate cross-training and strength training. If you look at my actual training log, you’ll see that I don’t always practice what I preach… until now!
I’ve always been prone to injury. Over the years, I have experienced hip issues, a stress fracture in my foot, SI joint issues, and I am still battling a knee issue. I’m confident that all of these injuries could have been prevented with a better strength routine. Now that I am through pregnancy and “starting over,” I’m using this as a chance to reset my routine and refocus on the things that will get me to the starting line healthy and as a faster runner. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how great your training cycle went or how fast you are. If you are injured on race day, it was all for nothing.
My go-to routine is currently the Dirty Dozen. I try to do this five times a week, and let me tell you, I feel STRONG on my runs. I couldn’t complete this workout in rapid succession when I first started out, nor could I do all of the exercises with the recommended repetitions. However, I can now complete this workout in about 20 minutes, and I have been adding reps on select exercises and/or doing more difficult variations of each movement.
Here are my tips to fitting core work into your training:
- No excuses! A little bit, often, goes a long way, and anything is better than nothing. No more excuses of “I don’t have time” or “I need to spend my limited time on the actual run!” These excuses really don’t make sense. I used to use these excuses, too, until I realized that I don’t need to find five 30-minute chunks of time over the week. I just need to find twenty to thirty 3-minute chunks of time. With this realization, I find myself logging a respectable number of repetitions each week.
- Get creative. Use your shower time wisely. This sounds crazy, but stick with me! I do three sets of 10 squats every day while I’m in the shower. Instead of just standing there while I’m washing my hair, I do squats. Again, I know it sounds weird, but it sure is efficient!
- Keep it simple! You don’t need anything more than your body weight and the floor. Commercial breaks in the evening are a perfect way to sneak in some exercises. Each commercial break is 2-3 minutes, allowing you to get in two sets of 1-minute planks and a set of bird dogs, or a set of push-ups and 15 lunges per leg. Trust me, I have the timing on this down to a science. Stay on the floor when the commercials are over and foam roll while watching tv until the next commercial break.
- Double-dip! Do exercises that work multiple muscle groups at once. For example, push-ups work almost every muscle in your body, as do planks. Star kicks and bird dogs also work multiple muscle groups at once. If you are short on time, go for efficiency!
Hopefully these suggestions will help you stay accountable to doing core work as part of your strength routine!