Maybe since you’ve been able to run since you were 2, you think that practicing running faster and faster is all you need to do to prepare for your marathon. Not so.
It is also important to strengthen your core.
Your core, by most sources, is considered:
- your diaphragm
- transversus and
- rectus abdominis muscles
This group of muscles stabilizes you to transmit force when needed and keeps your torso from rotating -stabilizing the spine to propel force outward.
Strong core muscles mean:
- nervous and muscular systems coordinate better providing better reaction and balance
- strength and endurance that will provide Improved movement and power
- quicker steps providing a more efficient gate
- better posture while you run
- less likelihood for injury
- better balance and stability
- lower back is stronger
- breathing is easier and lung capacity is increased
If you skip this training, your body will adapt to the stress of marathon training. Those changes, though, will most likely not be positive ones - leaving you at greater risk for injury.
“Two main areas of focus are correct breathing and posture, when marathon training,” says Jeremy Koerber, manager, BJC WellAware Center.
The diaphragm, of course, contains our muscles for respiration. Its job to provide correctly paced breathing combines with your enhanced core strength to provide more elastic muscle fiber- saving you energy in attempts to propel forward. To achieve correct breathing patterns, the diaphragm needs to neither stick out nor hunch over, with the pelvis also level and the lower back neutral or in its natural curve. The more trained the diaphragm is, the deeper, slower and more paced your breathing will be.
Since diaphragm muscles are connected to the core muscles, strengthening these muscle groups will enable the body to inhale and exhale more fully, bringing in more oxygen. With more oxygen, the heart can pump more blood and enhance your overall body performance.
Your goal with these core muscle exercises, as a runner, should be to focus on increasing core endurance versus core strength. This alone will help with injury prevention.
Picture your core as a coordinated support system with all aspects needing strength and endurance. You wouldn’t tighten up one bolt in an engine and leave the other bolts loose and rattling. Don’t over-concentrate on one muscle group and neglect its counterparts.
Research shows that endurance runners who weight train can improve their oxygen fueling by 4.6 percent. And even better, many studies prove that resistance training can improve runners’ 3K and 5 K performances by 2.9 percent.
Visit the BJC WellAware Center’s videos on YouTube for some suggested starter exercises: