If you’ve been in any kind of workout class—from IRL barre to at-home HIIT—you’ve probably heard some iteration of the phrase “focus on engaging your core,” even when that’s the last thing your trembling arms and barely-breathing self want to focus on.
Despite the burn, there's really no way around it: Core strength is key in all types of workouts—especially running. “Sometimes you think running is all about your legs and your lower body, [but] you actually have to work on your core strength as well,” Nike trainer Traci Copeland says.
That’s why this week’s episode of Trainer of the Month Club is focused on a core workout specifically for runners—led by Copeland herself—so you can start implementing the five-move routine into your post-run regimen. (Bonus points if you work it into your 5k or 10k training plan as part of our United States of Running program.)
“I recommend doing something like this after you run, I'd say probably once or twice a week,” Copeland says. "It's great to do as a way to stabilize your hips and work on proper alignment."
To help the workout fly by, add tunes. Even better, go entirely hands-free (no fumbling with headphone wires involved) with Bose Frames Tempo, which allow you to get in the zone with music while leaving your ears open to the environment around you.
Follow along with Copeland in the video above for the full core workout for running—and come back next week for trainer-approved lower-body stretches.
Scroll down for the details on Copeland’s quick core workout for running.
1. Dead Bug
For this first exercise, lie on your back, and make sure your back stays connected to the ground the entire time. Create a 90-degree angle with your legs, reach your arms up, and start extending one leg out straight, then the next. Continue switching legs for 60 seconds, and remember: Focus on your core.
2. Plank Knee Drive
If mountain climbers had a core-focused cousin, it’d be the plank knee drive. Get into plank position, but instead of busting out a set of mountain climbers, focus on only one leg at a time. Once 30 seconds are up, switch to your other leg.
3. Single Leg Deadlift
According to Copeland, it's tough to train your core in isolation, so this move helps bring your lower body into the work as well. Standing on your right leg, bend over at the waist (engaging your hamstrings) to make a T-shape with your body by extending your left leg back and reaching your left hand toward the ground. As you come back to standing, drive your left knee up. Repeat as many times as you can, then switch to the other side.
Lying belly-down on your mat, lift your chest off the ground and draw your elbows back. Briefly return to your starting position, and repeat, keeping a slow-and-steady pace throughout.
5. Bear Crawls
This is one of Copeland’s favorites-slash-least-favorites, and you’ll see why in the video. First, come to a hands-and-knees position, then lift your knees slightly above the ground with your fingers spread and hips aligned over your knees.
Then, take a few steps forward and a few backward, keeping your hips low and aligned. Once you’ve completed all five moves for a minute each, go through them again for two more rounds, and you'll definitely be feeling the core burn (in the best way).
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