Day 3: Secret Sauce

screen-shot-2017-03-03-at-5-44-15-amAs runners, we love to RUN! The feeling of wind through our hair, the rhythmic sound of footfalls, and the satisfying completion of a tough workout are what keep us coming back for more every day. If we wanted to be gym junkies we’d do that instead, right?

But if the only form of exercise you’re getting is running, you’re missing out on a variety of benefits that could actually help your running. Strength and core exercises are the perfect complement to running. They optimize your running so you can keep going without injuries, and even race faster. Almost every training plan you look at includes cross training…well Core Crew…strength training IS cross training!

So now that you’ve admitted to yourself that you need to work on your strength, your first thought is probably leg work. I mean runners need strong legs right? Yes it’s true, strong legs are important…but so is a strong core.

A strong core helps runners with our stability, balance, posture and overall control. Core strength training reinforces the way that your pelvis, abs, hips and lower back work together. Here are three reasons why core strength work is so important.

  1. Core Work Helps You Stay Healthy – Injury prevention is a top goal for every runner because it can help you run more consistently without injuries. Core strength plays a vital role in stabilizing your entire body during running by maintaining a neutral pelvis, and delaying the breakdown in your form when you’re fatigued.
  2. Strength Exercises Improve Your Running Economy – Not only does core work strengthen your body and prevent injuries, but it also helps improve your running economy, otherwise known as running efficiency. Core workouts do this by allowing your body to use more muscle fibers during any given workout. Sometimes your body can’t recruit as many muscle fibers as possible. Using the same muscles over and over again means you get tired more quickly. But if you have a larger pool of muscle fibers to work with, you can delay fatigue and run faster. It’s important to remember that your “core” is more than just your abdominal muscles. The core includes your hips, glutes, hip flexors, obliques and lower back.
  3. Core Workouts Can Help You Run Faster – What happens when you combine injury prevention with higher efficiency? You run faster! Injury prevention is the real key to getting faster because when you can string together weeks, months and even years of consistent training, then you’ll see dramatic improvement in your race times. Long-term success (in other words, improvement) in distance running is all about consistency.

Strength training is so important that it’s often called the “secret sauce” of good training. It helps your marathon or half marathon pace this year become your easy pace next year. Consistency is what allows your 5K pace to soon become your 10K pace or your half-marathon pace as your new 5K pace becomes faster.

Let’s dig into that secret sauce and fire up our core Crew!

Day 3 exercises: 2 sets of 10

****Click here for “how to” videos****

  • Windshield Wipers
  • Standing Knee Cross Crunch
  • Side Imprint
  • Wall Sit – Do this AFTER your run if you’re running today. Doing a wall sit on tired legs is a great way to get them used stress and make them stronger.

Challenges:

  • Ab Challenge – 15 Crunches, Bicycle Crunches, Leg Lifts + :20 – :30 Plank
  • 10 Burpees

Bonus: #AbsOnFire – If you have time for a little more today, throw in this Abs on Fire workout. If you can’t get in all 3 rounds that’s ok. Do what you can because every little bit counts!

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Most likely you are familiar with sit ups and side planks, but if you’re not sure how to perform the heel touches, spiderman mountain climbers, and sprinter sit ups, watch the videos below.

Heel Touches: One of my FAVORITE ab exercise!


Spiderman Mountain Climbers: We’ve done these before, they were just called plank with heel to same elbow. Here’s how to do it.


Sprinter Sit Ups: Otherwise known as Runner Crunches! Another #CoreCrew favorite. Here’s how to do it.

Our workout today seems like a lot but you can breeze through it pretty quickly. Do what you can and remember that Core work is an essential part of becoming a stronger, healthier, FASTER runner! 🙂 

When you’re done…feel those flaming abs and know you killed your workout today Crew!

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Day 10: Dear Abs

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Love our Friday ab work! You might not be able to see them yet….but they are brewing! Work hard today and feel the burn!

Day 10 exercises: 3 sets of 10

****Click here for how to videos****

  • Runners Crunch
  • Heel Touches
  • Bridge Pullover
  • Side Planks – :30 each side
  • Wall Sit – :60

Challenges:

  • Superman – :50
  • Push Ups – 30
  • #MadManMartin Plank Challenge – One more :60 Plank

Bonus: Add a little extra burn today with a few rounds of Daily Abs Crew! A few means 3! 🙂

Daily Abs

Food Challenge: What is ab day without a No Junk Food Challenge? Don’t waste all that hard work by eating crap! This is usually a 21 Day Challenge but we like to take things one day at a time. No Junk Food…just for today Crew! You got this!

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Love your abs today! That’s right Crew…you thought you were done but you have time for one more round of #DailyAbs. Give it a little extra and love your abs…AGAIN!

Happy Friday Crew! 🙂

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Day 3: Wasted Energy

There are a lot of options to choose from when it comes to strength training. But runners often tend to ignore our core and back which are key areas that can translate into wasted energy on the road.

“Runners need a strong core and back to stabilize the spine and pelvis,” says Dr. Richard Hansen of High Altitude Spine and Sport in Boulder, Colo. “This reduces injury risk by helping to evenly distribute the forces that are being absorbed with each step and helps to improve running economy by reducing energy lost to unnecessary body sway.” If you’re not strong in these areas,  when you begin increasing your running volume, it can eventually lead to tissue breakdown and injury—especially in the lower leg and hip.

A healthy back is as important to your running as fit legs. If your back muscles aren’t strong, they tend to fatigue faster, taking energy away from other muscles, and changing your stride, leading to injury. Runners with a strong back and core tend to have better posture which translates into more efficient use of energy. A weak back and core are bio-mechanical inefficiencies that waste energy.

To avoid these common running issues, we need to spend some time stregnthening these areas. Lucky for us it doesn’t take hours in the gym and lots of expensive equipment. A few sets of back and core focused moves like the bridge pullover and side planks will help us strengthen and support our back and core which will help us use our energy more efficiently!

Working our upper and lower back prevents weak, rounded shoulders and poor arm carriage. Make sure you pull your shoulder blades together with the bridge pullover and our bonus bird dog exercise. Do not arch your lower and when lowering the weight, ensure your shoulder blades separate slightly to allow for a slight stretch of the muscles in between them.

Day 3 exercises: 2 sets of 10 

****Click here for how to videos****

  • Runner’s Crunch
  • Heel Touches
  • Bridge Pullover
  • Side Planks – :30 each side
  • Wall Sit – :60

Bonus: Bird Dog – 2 sets of 10 – I like this video as it gives you a way to modify the exercise for beginners. Take a look and try it out. Remember to keep your spine flat and stable. When adding the arms, squeeze the shoulder-blade together to add some upper back work as well.

Challenges:

  • Superman – :20
  • Push Ups – 25
  • #MadManMartin Plank Challenge – One more plank – :30

Core Crew Virtual Race: We’re running through Paris logging 24 miles for the next 7 days. Are you in? Our virtual races are fun and might help you grab a few extras miles this week. Race starts today so click here to sign up. It’s a free and fun way to challenge yourself to do a little more than usual.

Before you stop for the day, take time to get familiar with our 7 Key Stretches for Runners! These will help you get loose and ready to go long this weekend.

Don’t waste energy thinking about skipping your strength training. Just get up and get it done! 😉

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Day 28: Decide To Try

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What will you accomplish if you decide to give up?

Before you abandon your dreams, ask yourself a few important questions…

  • Why did you want to pursue this goal to begin with? Has anything changed? You had a good reason for committing to reach your goal and odds are, you still want it as much as you did before; you just stopped believing you could achieve it because your attempts have yet to yield results. You have to ask yourself: If you push through the discomfort, will it be with it in the end?
  • Did you set a smart goal? SMART goals are:
  1. Specific—you know exactly what your world will look like when you achieve this goal.
  2. Measurable—you have a specific plan to mark your progress as you go.
  3. Attainable—you have the attitude and aptitude to make your goal reality.
  4. Realistic—you’re willing and able to do the required work.
  5. Time-bound—you’ve set a concrete timeframe for completion to create a sense of urgency.

If you didn’t set a SMART goal, you may have set yourself up for failure. How can you possibly make something happen if you don’t know exactly what you want, or didn’t really believe you could do it? Are you really willing to walk away when you didn’t give yourself every opportunity to succeed?

  • How much have you already put in? A concept studied in social psychology called “the sunk cost principle” indicates the more we’ve invested in something, the less likely we are to prematurely walk away. How invested are you? How time have you devoted? How many sacrifices have you made? Are you really willing to chalk it all up as a loss because you’re not feeling confident in your abilities?
  • What would you tell someone else if they were in your shoes? Would you tell your best friend to throw in the towel because she can’t possibly reach her goal? Or would you practice your finest motivational speech and help her see what you see in her potential? Unless you’re secretly a frenemy who hopes she fails in life, odds are you’d push her to be her best—so why not push yourself?

It might sound kind of cheesy, but you need to be your own best friend. You, more than anyone in this world, deserve your own belief and motivation.

If there’s some lingering doubt as to whether or not you should keep pushing—don’t give up. Decide to try!

Decide to keep working toward that dream that fills you with passion!

Day 28 exercises: Abs – 4 sets of 15

****Click here for how to videos****

  • Renegade Rows
  • Weighted Sit Ups
  • Dead Bugs
  • Heel Touches
  • Bedtime Plank

Bonus: #DailyAbs Daily Abs

How many rounds do you have in you today? 2..3..4?

Decide to try and see how far you can push yourself today!

When it’s all said and done, stretch, hydrate and rest up….cause it’s almost time to go long!

Make it a great Friday Crew….and whatever you do…DECIDE TO TRY!

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Day 21: When Life Knocks You Down…

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-6-14-48-amWe all love it when someone notices all the hard work we’ve put in.

You know…”Dang you look good”

“Your legs are amazing”

“You look great, have you lost weight?”

“Your arms are so defined and strong!”

“What are you doing? You look fabulous!”

Comments like these make us want to work harder! If you’re not getting them…maybe you shouldn’t have skipped last week? Last month? You have no one blame but yourself if you’re not putting in the work!

Stop making excuses and get your booty in gear! Start today!

Day 21 exercises: Abs – 3 sets of 15

****Click here for how to videos****

  • Renegade Rows
  • Weighted Sit Ups
  • Dead Bugs
  • Heel Touches
  • Bedtime Plank

Bonus: 1-2-3 Ab Workout screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-6-24-22-am

We’ve done all these exercises before so they should be familiar. I like these ladder workouts but you can see the finish line…take it one step at a time and work those abs Crew!


November Challenge: I’ve had a few suggestions come in for November but looking for more!

We will definitely have two dedicated hip strength days as that seemed to go over very well. What else would you like to focus on? Any new ab or arm moves you want to try? How about some fun new leg exercises? All ideas and suggestions are welcome and home videos are awesome! Get involved and show us your favorite moves!

Extra Credit: This is for all you burpee haters out there…I know they are hard, I know they hurt, I KNOW they get your heart rate up! But when life gets tough and knocks you down…it’s time for burpees!

3 sets of 10 burpees today Crew! GETTTT ITTTTT!!!! 🙂

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Day 14: Abs On FIIIRRRE!

It’s FRIDAYYYYY!!!!

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Time to set those abs on FIIIRRRRE and get ready for a fabulous weekend full of long runs, races, and fun family time!

Ab day always makes me feel so good. I love working out that area since it’s one that I know ALWAYS need some extra attention…

Let’s get it done and move on to the fun stuff! Who’s racing this weekend? Who’s got a long run coming up to prepare for a race? Let us know so we can cheer you on!

Day 14 exercises: Abs – 3 sets of 10

****Click here for how to videos****

  • Renegade Rows
  • Weighted Sit Ups
  • Dead Bugs
  • Heel Touches
  • Bedtime Plank

Bonus: 10 Minute Abs – Got a few extra minutes? Throw in this 10 minute abs routine to really set those abs on FIIIIIIRRRREEEE!!! 😉

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There’s a couple moves on here that might not be familiar so check below so make sure you have it all right.

Toe Touches: Let’s make this a lying toe touch. Reach for the sky!


Suitcase Crunches: We’ve done these before…this is just another name for them. Pull it together like like flying up a suitcase.


Scissors: The scissor exercise works all parts of your abdominal muscles to give you a flat and tight stomach.


Spiderman Crunches: Missing our daytime planks? Bringing them back today! You might know this one as a plank with knee to utter arm. Here’s how to do it.

Extra Credit: Round 4 – Who reads all the way to the bottom? Extra credit for being thorough and paying attention to details today! 🙂  Throw in one more round of our Day 14 exercises to get that fire rolling strong!

Who knows the song?? Come on…no Google cheating…who sings this one Crew? Hum it in your head while your setting those abs on fire today!! 🙂

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Days 26 & 27: Good for the Soul

Good for your soulIt’s the weekend again…time to get sweaty, have some fun, and hang with family for Easter.

This holiday gives us time to reflect and be thankful…and hopefully make time to do what’s good for our soul. Whatever that is for you…make it special!

Switch up the days to make it work for you…long run Saturday and Abs Sunday…or Abs Saturday and long run Sunday….or knock out everything on Saturday and take Sunday off!

Day 26: Long Run + 7 Key Stretches for Runners

Day 27: Abs 

  • Mountain Climbers – 80X each side
  • Heel Touches – 60X each side
  • Bicycle Crunches – 60X each side
  • Planks – 1 min (3X)
  • Side Planks – 1 Min (1X each side)
  • One Arm Camel
  • Spinal Stretch on Stability Ball

I know it will be a challenge to get your workout in this weekend but make a plan and find a way to work it done. You’ll be glad you did. 🙂

Lots of crew members are racing this weekend and I wish I could be there to cheer you on! Good luck to Melissa, Catherine, Chris, and Lisa all running Tamoka, and Gladys…who I believe has her crazy trail Ultra this weekend. Have a blast y’all and remember to stretch!

Happy Easter Core Crew! I hope you all have a fabulous weekend! 🙂

Ab stretches:

Days 19 & 20: In it for the Long Run

in it for the long runI read an article recently that said runners can substitute strength workouts for their long run and still do well with long distances races…hmmmm….what do you think?

While a regular strength training regimen will absolutely help you get faster and last longer on the road….they alone are not enough to ensure you can go the distance. The only thing that will get you ready for long distances racing…is consistent long distance training runs.

Not everyone obsesses over racing though… What about going long just for the fun of it? For the stress relief, the calorie burn, for the mental toughness… Do you put yourself through the pain just so deep down you can know how good it feels?

No matter what your reason, the long run is good for you. According to Runner’s World, during the long run…

“Capillaries in your muscle fibers increase in number, which enables more energizing oxygen to reach your muscles. Your mitochondria, the aerobic powerhouses of your cells, also grow in number and size, which helps you sustain energy. Your muscles also learn to store more glycogen (carbs), which wards off fatigue over long distances. There are psychological benefits, too: Long runs build mental toughness to help you manage discomfort. They also serve as a dress rehearsal, giving you an opportunity to test gear and fueling options so when race day comes, you know what works best.”

The process is very technical but going through the RRCA Certification course, I learned a lot about how we grow mitochondria during our long runs and why it’s important. It’s fascinating how the long run actually transforms our body. Without these long runs, we are not ready to take on long distance racing.

This weekend, as you tackle those long runs, think about how your body is changing, growing, and transforming into a powerhouse that is ready for whatever you throw at it.

Day 19: Go Long 

  • Long Slow Run – No matter what “long run” means to you…go out and make it count!
  • Planks – :30 (2X)
  • Side Planks – :30 (1X each side)
  • 7 Key Stretches for Runners

Day 20: Abs

  • Mountain Climbers – 60X each side
  • Heel Touches – 40X each side
  • Bicycle Crunches – 40X each side
  • Planks – 1 Min (2X)
  • Side Planks – 1 min each side
  • One Arm Camel
  • Spinal Stretch on Stability Ball

Remember you always have options on the weekend and can switch these days up if you like to go long on Sunday. 🙂 Here is the “how to” videos page and the stretching exercises (besides the 7 Key Stretches for Runners) are below.

Time to build some mitochondria….go out and grow some energy this weekend! 😉

Day 5 & 6 – Time On Legs & Abs!

Long slow distanceHey Core Crew… it’s Saturday and we all know what that means! Who’s ready for some LSD??

Long Slow Distance is not a new concept.. as you can tell from the picture…I mean…she’s wearing a cotton tank so we know this was a while ago…

But the basic elements remain…and it goes back to “time on legs”. If you’re training for a 5K…you should work up to running more than 3.1 miles on the weekend, 10K…more than 6.2 miles, Half and full marathon….you should be logging some serious hours on the road!

Low intensity…or slow, conversation paced running…will allow your body to adjust to the training without overworking your body. In fact, 80% of your training runs should be at this pace! That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t add speed, hills, intervals, or other running drills…but if you are in it for the long haul, this pace should be your foundation.

It’s important to work up to a distance you are comfortable with. Don’t go jumping willy nilly into tons of miles. Plan out a schedule that will help you reach your goals in a healthy manageable way to build up your endurance over time. Time on Legs…to do well..you’ve gotta put in the time.

So today is a rest day from strength training…IF you are running today. If you run on Sunday…please use today to knock out Day 6 (Sunday: Abs) and get that long run in tomorrow.

We still have work to do today and don’t skip your stretches!

Day 5:

  • Long run: Conversation Pace – Long run means different things to all of us so whatever level you are at…get out there and log some miles!
  • Plank – :30 (2X)
  • Side Planks – :30 (each side)
  • 7 Key Stretches for Runners – This is so important today! I promise it will feel so good!

Day 6: Sunday – Abs

  • Plank – :30
  • Mountain Climbers (50 each side)
  • Heel Touches (30 each side)
  • Bicycle Crunches (30 each side)
  • Plank – :30
  • Side Planks – :30 (each side)
  • One Arm Camel
  • Spinal Stretch on Stability Ball

I think I neglected to include the how to videos for these ab exercises so I will put the videos below. And if you need a reminder about how to do today’s ab stretches, please click here and scroll to the bottom. Let me know if you have any questions or need some help with modifications.

Remember to do your best and make it a great weekend Challengers! 🙂

Mountain Climbers: Great full body exercise! Keep your hips low and your core tight.

Heel Touches: Perfect for those love handles! Again…keep your core tight and bring your shoulders up off the ground.

Bicycle Crunches: Last ab exercise for the day. Do these strong even if you need a rest as you go. Try to bring your knees up as high as possible and again…keep your core tight! 🙂