August 2018 Challenge: Core Strong

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We know a strong core can improve our running posture & speed. Since our arms and legs all stem from our core, the strength in our limbs is intimately tied to the strength in our torso.

Having a strong core sets a solid foundation for strength in the rest of the body.

For runners, the main benefit of core strength is increased stabilization in the torso. Our core muscles, the chest, back, abs, and obliques, are what keep our torso upright when we run, and reduce “wobbling” when moving our arms & legs. When we are running, our core strength allows the pelvis, hips, and lower back to work together more smoothly, with less rocking and less excess energy expended. Core strength also significantly improves balance helping us recover quickly from missteps.

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For distance runners, core strength is extremely important. Towards the end of our long runs or races when we are fatigued, our form starts to suffer. Poor form slows us down, and opens us up to potential injuries. If you are familiar with that lower back ache, building up core strength will help to maintain good posture, and reduce the pains that result from poor posture.

While we will continue to build strength in our legs and arms, August is all about getting CORE STRONG!

Before we get to our August calendar, let’s talk about a few other things we are throwing in this month.

Quick Core Workout (#QCW): Since the Quick Morning Workout was such a big success in the past, we are doing a similar workout each morning in August. This is a simple routine that we will go through one time right when we wake up to get ourselves moving and fire up our core. This will also be a great way to get in some dynamic movement before a morning run!

Meet your new Quick Core Workout! (#QCW for posting 🙂 ) 10 moves, 10 repetitions each.

Quick Core Workout

Coffee Break Workout: Another fun little challenge I wanted to bring back in August is our Coffee Break Workout. Too often we sit all day, only moving when it’s time to run or do our daily workout. When you have a break during your day, get up and move! You don’t have to do three rounds all at once. Get in a round whenever you can fit in. In fact, I would rather you do one round 3 separate times during the day because that means you are getting up and moving three separate times a day! If you are working in an office or somewhere you can’t get down and do crunches, think about the “Hip Hop Crunches” we did in the Tabata video on July 31. Those small crunch pulses are the perfect way to get in some midday core work pretty much anywhere. You can also switch it out for regular standing crunches which we’ve done many times in the past. Go into the bathroom at work and get in a few bathroom counter push ups and some standing hip hop crunches! 🙂

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August Food Challenge: A couple weeks ago, Meghan brought up the food challenges we’ve done in the past. It’s been a while and since this is a “core focused” month, I figured it was a good time to bring it back. The No Junk Food Challenges are doable for a couple days, but it’s difficult to keep it going all month. The “Weekly Food Challenge” was more successful, with a different challenge each day of the week. Make a small daily commitment that will go hand in hand with our Core Strong month! This “weekly” challenge will help us make better choices, cut back on portion sizes, and drink more water. Rules are below. 🙂

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August 2018 – CORE STRONG

We have a fun new calendar for August and if you guessed that we’ll be doing a lot of core work, you were right! You will recognize some of these exercises and others might be new to you. Don’t worry, I will explain everything as we go and include “how to” videos to ensure you are doing them correctly.

You’ll see that our planks and wall sits are broken into shorter durations but we have multiple repetitions. Our planks and wall sits are isometric exercises since we are holding a static position. This isometric “bracing” hold is great for building strength and preventing injuries, but holding it for a long time doesn’t neccessarily give us any added benefit. So instead of holding long planks and wall sits, we are breaking up this isometric exercise into smaller segments so the muscle contracts then relaxes, then contracts again during the next round. During each wall sit, hold strong for the first half then brace your glutes, quads and calves (target muscles) as hard as you possibly can in the fully contracted position for the final 10-15 seconds. The stress of doing this exercise multiple times (in shorter stronger durations) causes more stress to our muscles and equals more stimulus to adapt to ultimately leading to stronger more stable muscle groups.

If you can hold your plank or wall sit for longer than :30 at a time AND keep the proper form while doing it, then you can go a little longer, but stay away from super long wall sits (nothing longer than 2 minutes) and throw in a few short, really strong ones instead. We want to engage the intended muscles, rest, then engage them again.

Here is how the month is set up.

  • Monday: Full Body / Core
  • Tuesday: Hips / Glutes
  • Wednesday: Quick Core Workout + Rest
  • Thursday: Core / Legs
  • Friday: Core
  • Saturday: Long Runs
  • Sunday: Active Recovery & Yoga

Our August calendar is below. Don’t get nervous about any exercises you’re not familiar with. I will break it down each day as we go. You’ll see that there is no designated “arm day” in August but we will sneak in some arm too, I promise! 🙂 We’ll also have lots of great bonus stuff in store too. There are quite a few exercises that require a stability ball, so if you don’t have one yet, you might want to invest in one. Stability balls are an extremely effective means of building muscle and endurance, strengthening our core, and developing flexibility and balance.

Running Stats: July has been like a breath of fresh air with no worries about posting paces and I want to continue it. It’s still super hot out and we don’t need to be concerned with trying to run the same pace as someone else, or feel the need to run faster to “compete”. So for August…no running stats! There are so many other places to post them so we will continue to be a group where it doesn’t matter…no internal competition in our Strong to the Core family! 🙂

***One exception*** You may post stats for races! 🙂

Buddy System: Last, but so important for many of us, buddies! The buddy system works very well for those who need a little more accountability and motivation during the long weeks and consistent exercises. If you have a buddy team that works, stick with it. If you are new and don’t have a buddy, or just want to switch things up that’s great too. Reach out to someone new and get to know your #CoreCrew family a little better.

August Calendar

August Calendar is below. I will put a PDF copy of this in our Strong to the Core files so you can print it out and put it somewhere you can see it each day. Remember to check our daily “pinned post” for “how to” videos, bonus exercises and weekly speed work!

August 2018 Challenge - Core Strong Revised