En­gag­ing the right mus­cles can im­prove your over­all run, ex­plains

Triathlon Plus - - Contents - Pete Wilby

A strong core will keep you in­jury free and ef­fi­cient as you run.

When we run, our legs are work­ing hard in time with pump­ing arms. This is be­cause it’s the most eco­nom­i­cal way of fo­cus­ing your en­ergy on mov­ing for­wards. The more eco­nom­i­cal you be­come, the more you can do, whether your goal is fur­ther or faster, so it’s nat­u­rally de­sir­able to be as eco­nom­i­cal as pos­si­ble.

To im­prove run­ning econ­omy, the ob­vi­ous place to look is the legs, then the arms. How­ever, it’s im­por­tant to note that it’s your core which is hold­ing your body up­right and keep­ing the chest open, so your lungs can take in air.

The core mus­cles sta­bilise the hips, hold you up­right and are the source of good pos­ture.

Bend­ing at the hips by re­lax­ing the core short­ens this body shape, but a slight for­ward lean with the whole body can be ben­e­fi­cial. This ‘off bal­anced’ po­si­tion is what you should aim to adopt, keep­ing legs and arms work­ing hard cre­at­ing enough mo­men­tum to not fall over. Even a slight for­ward bend from the hips can tighten mus­cles in the lower back and hip flex­ors, lead­ing to ag­gra­vated ham­strings, tight calves and poor pelvic pos­ture. Here are some ways to help en­gage your core for run­ning:


There are hun­dreds of core sta­bil­ity ex­er­cises you can do. The best ones re­quire you to work each side of the body in­de­pen­dently. It’s im­por­tant to have a va­ri­ety of ex­er­cises. Pi­lates is a good way to strengthen the core with dy­namic move­ments.


Re­mind your­self to ‘stand tall’ and keep your ‘chest big’ when run­ning. It’s amaz­ing what a good men­tal at­ti­tude can do.


Prac­tise get­ting your pos­ture in place be­fore be­gin­ning your run. Stand up straight, draw your shoul­der blades back and down. Keep your head in neu­tral align­ment. You could prac­tise ini­tially with el­bows at 90 de­grees, rais­ing your knee for­ward with the op­po­site arm. If you do this, stay fo­cused on your pos­ture and try not to wob­ble.


A good way to prac­tise run tech­nique and ini­ti­ate the cor­rect move­ments from the core, is to do drills. Drills should be done per­fectly. Don’t spend too long on each one, so as to avoid fa­tigue. The idea is for a drill to im­prove an area of tech­nique when you next run, not tire your­self out so that you can’t per­form the drill it­self.


At the end of the day, va­ri­ety is the spice of life. The tips listed above are all great ways to en­gage your core to im­prove your run­ning. Why not put it all to­gether? In­stead of your weekly 6km run, why not warm up with some fo­cused pos­ture work and drills, then head out for a shorter 2-3km run fo­cus­ing on qual­ity, us­ing your cue words to help you keep your core en­gaged. Af­ter, get out the mat and fin­ish with 15 min­utes of Pi­lates or a va­ri­ety of core ex­er­cises.

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