Many running coaches will tell you that the key to speed starts with your core. Why do you need to use your core to run, you might ask. Well, here are some reasons why:
- Stability. Leaning forward from the ankles allows you to use gravity for propulsion instead of your legs. All you have to do is pick up your feet with each stride to keep up with your forward fall. Engaging your core keeps you balanced and stable as you lean.
- Relaxation. Your abdominals are the only muscles that should feel sore after running. That’s because smaller muscle groups, such as the lower legs, should be relaxed to reduce overuse and prevent injury. Maintaining a forward lean allows your legs to land underneath your center of mass so they can simply support you in the landing phase. If you run upright and your feet land out in front of you, your legs must pull your entire body forward with every step.
- Longer strides. You don’t achieve speed by taking more steps. Instead, increase your forward lean and allow your stride to lengthen behind you. You gain more ground while keeping the same cadence (steps per minute). As you lean more, your core must stay engaged to maintain stability.
Those were reasons why to use your core, but now the question is, how do you use it?
- Stand tall. Get into your best posture before running. Reach to the sky with the crown of your head to lengthen your spine. Drop your chin, and relax your shoulders. Don’t sink into your lower back, or bend at the waist.
- Keep your pelvis level. Engage your lower abs and lift your pelvis up slightly. This strengthens your core and prevents you from arching your lower back. Be sure not to lift your pelvis too much, as this will cause you to tighten your glutes and restrict your leg swing.
- Practice this simple exercise: Stand against a wall and try to press your lower back into it. Watch what happens to your pelvis. You have to engage your lower abs in a vertical “crunch” movement. Remember that feeling, and try to maintain it as you run.
- Fall into your run. With your posture aligned and core engaged, lean forward from your ankles and start your run. Keep your core engaged, and lean forward about an inch more. Relax your legs as much as possible. Lean a little more, and let your legs go almost limp. You should feel your speed increase. Pull back on your lean and run without engaging your core for a few seconds, then re-engage to feel the difference.
It will take time to adjust. It always does. But the article I read about core strength ended with this: Remember–sprinters use their legs for speed, but distance runners should use their legs as little as possible.
Something to think about, huh?
I can say that I am able to feel my upper core today! I think it is all that swimming! I swam 800 yards (freestyle, of course) on Tuesday and 850 yards today! And a total of 250 yards with the kick board (over both days). And it’s starting to feel easier! Our swim instructor sent us a video of Michael Phelps’ breathing technique because Kim and I are still having trouble–I tried to really concentrate on that today. Although, to be honest, I’m no Michael Phelps. But you probably knew that already! 🙂
And I completely forgot to post some pictures of my LRD from agility! These were taken during our last agility class when we did our full run-throughs! Doesn’t she look awesome!?
Food for Thought: Losing weight can be challenging when hard training leaves you feeling hungry. If you don’t want to derail your diet, reach for almonds. Studies show that the nut’s trio of nutrients–monounsaturated fat, protein and fiber–help you feel fuller longer since they take longer to digest than foods packed with carbohydrates.
Quote of the Day:
“If one can stick to the training throughout the many long years, then willpower is no longer a problem. It’s raining? That doesn’t matter. I am tired? That’s beside the point. It’s simply that I just have to.” -Emil Zatopek
Hmmm…what recipe to post today? I think it will be the third and final Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownie recipe that I tried. This is in case you are snowed in this weekend (I heard parts of the Northeast were expecting 20 inches!) and want to compare all three recipes I like I did! (If you haven’t been following I made Cookie Dough Brownies and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies #2 in addition to this recipe to compare and contrast. I still favor the Cookie Dough Brownies.)
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies #3
For the Brownie:
– 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
– 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
– 2 cups light brown sugar
– 4 eggs
– 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
– 1 cup all-purpose flour
For the Cookie Dough:
– ¾ cup unsalted butter
– ¾ cup light brown sugar
– ¾ cup granulated sugar
– 3 tablespoons whole milk
– 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
– 1½ cups all-purpose flour
– 1½ cups mini chocolate chips
1. Prepare the Brownies: Preheat oven to 325*. Line a 9×13-inch pan with foil, with enough to hang over all four sides. Butter the foil. In a medium glass bowl, melt the chocolate in the microwave in 30-second increments, stirring after each, until melted and smooth. Set aside to cool slightly. In a large mixing bowl, mix the butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract, scraping the bowl as needed. Mix in the melted chocolate until combined. Reduce the speed to low, add the flour and mix just until combined (don’t over-mix). Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake 25 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool completely.
2. Prepare the Cookie Dough: In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer on medium speed to combine the butter and both sugars. Add the milk and vanilla and mix until combined. Reduce the speed to low and mix in the flour just until combined. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the chocolate chips.
3. Spread the cookie dough over the cooled brownies. Refrigerate until the dough is firm, about an hour. Use a sharp knife or a pizza cutter to cut the brownies. Store the brownies in an airtight container at cool room temperature or in the refrigerator.
Courtesy of Brown-Eyed Baker