(I fully realize many among you are well rounded athletes -- yes, you are better people than the rest of us. Let us wallow in your awesomeness!)
|Hard cores. Working on mine. (Photo: Island Vittles/Flickr)|
I fit neatly into the category of exclusive runner for years, easy. Most of my running career has been focused on pure running. I reasoned that if I were to pour six to eight hours a week in training, might as well hit the roads than to 'waste' time on other activities. I know now I'm pretty pig headed in that approach, so I've decided to fix it as I ramp up the training this summer.
Don't get me wrong, in those early years, I got relatively fast -- even qualified for Boston -- based on quality training. Back in 2008 and 2009, when I was doing that training, I was incorporating more strength training on the side.
The conventional (and tested) wisdom was that if you are extremely limited for time, and you want to run fast, you can't ignore that actually running -- fast, hard, long, with recovery -- is your ticket to faster marathon times.
True, but to a point. All the running experts agree that a strong core, flexibility and strength training can extend your performance, and I agree.
Problem is how can you get that extra exercises without adding hours and hours to your weekly training schedule. I've seen countless two-page spreads in Runner's World, or entire sections of my various training books. So complicated.
A strong core -- which includes strengthening your abdominals, hip, lower back and butt -- can go a long way to fix a lot of imbalances as your core is the trunk that your motors (legs) rely on as you push on as an endurance athlete.
Core training, write Pete Pfitzinger and Scott Douglas in Advanced Marathoning, "can eliminate .. imbalances, thereby preventing injuries and reducing the degree to which your form deteriorates as you fatigue during the marathon." Weak abs, they say, allow the pelvis to rotate forward, more stretch on hamstrings which decreases stride length. It may not hit you in a short race, but over a marathon, weak form and imbalances can cause your body to start to break down.