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Core Strength for Runners


I’m going to take you through a really quick core strength sequence that I like to use with runners. You could tack this on to the end of your run, or maybe the beginning as a warm up. As runners, we obviously want to have a strong core, but we also want to think of working on things that can get us on one leg. Running is a single-leg activity, so I think taking some of your basic core exercises that you may have done before, and doing them on one leg is a good way you can make them a little more running specific.

I’m going to take you through a sequence of exercises. We’re going to do them standing, and then do a few exercises down on the mat. You could do one set of everything, or if you’re looking for a little bit more, you could turn this into a little longer workout by doing two to three sets of everything.

Starting with the standing exercises:

  • The first exercise more of a warmup/activation exercise. You’re gonna bring one knee up, and then you’re going to bring both hands on top of that knee and push down into your knee while, at the same time, driving your knee up into your hands. This is an isometric contraction, nothing is actually moving here, but we’re working on creating stability through your standing leg. You can do the same thing on the other side and you can hold this contraction for about 10-15 seconds, repeating multiple times, if you want.

  • The next exercise is a dead bug. You may have done this laying down on the mat, but we’re just going to bring it up into standing. One knee comes up and one arm comes up and what you’re gonna do is you’re gonna find length, and then you’re gonna bring your knee up and you’re gonna bring your elbow down. You’re gonna reach, find the length, and then bring that elbow down & knee up. This opposite arm can go out to the side for stability or it can come out straight in front of you and you can work anywhere from eight to 12 reps, or you could time yourself for 30 seconds on each side.

  • The last exercise you could do while standing is a Bicycle Crunch. You’ve likely done this one laying down, so now you just bring it into standing. You want to ground down through one leg really creating stability, and then you’re going to bring opposite elbow towards the outside of that the opposite knee. Find length, and then knee to opposite elbow.

You can go through all of those standing exercises once and then you can come down onto the mat.

Just a few quick exercises down on the mat:

  • Planks are one of my favorite things to use for runners. Hold a plank in the center, where you’re just holding a plain plank. If this is too easy, you can always add on by turning it into a spider plank where you’re bringing your knee towards your elbow, alternating sides, or bringing your knee across to the opposite elbow.

  • Then going into a side plank. Either just holding your side plank statically for 45-60 seconds at the most or, if you want to add on, taking your top leg, lifting it up, either holding or turning this into repetitions. Doing that on both sides.

So there’s a really quick, core strength sequence, but again you’re making it a little more running specific by doing something standing on one leg and then including a little more glute meade strengthening with that side plank leg lift and that high plank with knee to elbow.

Here at Peak Endurance Performance & Physical Therapy we help active adults in the Madison Area get back to the activities they love without pain or limitations. We see people of all ages, ability levels, and individuals trying to get back to a multitude of movements including: getting back into running, women postpartum, CrossFit athletes, climbers, gymnasts, wrestlers, overhead athletes, and your recreational weekend warrior. If you’re looking to get back to the activities that give you meaning, relieve stress, and make you feel like you again, feel free to reach out below and we’ll see if we’re the right fit for you.