Have you heard about the Core and Cake Party?! Check out The Arty Runnerchick's website, but the idea is that she is going to be writing about core work and cake, and has invited others to join in the fun! I couldn’t resist putting together a post about the core…and I even included a “cake” recipe at the end of the post:)
What is the core?
The core is made up of more than just the abs. According to this website:
“The truth is that the core refers to essentially everything between the bottom of your pelvis and your ribcage, front and back. That’s right; glutes, hip flexors, transverse abdominis and the spinal musculature are all essential components to a healthy core.”
I believe that the key to benefiting from core work is learning your own imbalances and how to correct them. Many runners have overworked hip flexors, because we are constantly using our hips to move forward, and most likely we are also keeping them in a flexed position while we sit all day. I touched on this a little when I talked about my weak glutes, but our core muscles are obviously all closely connected. Tight hips usually mean weak glutes. A tight back can mean weak abs. If you aren’t sure about your own imbalances, it may be a good idea to consult with a professional. There are now places that will do a gait analysis and give feedback about how to improve your running.
You can check this website to find somewhere near you that can do this type of analysis: http://www.runnersworld.com/injury-prevention-recovery/get-a-running-injury-assessment
Planks: on elbows or hands, alternate lifting feet and legs, walk feet and hands in and out, or push forward and back for an added challenge.
Side planks are another great way to work the abdominal muscles, along with the glute medius and minimus, and and adductors
Bridges: Lift and lower hips, hold lift for 10 seconds or longer, or try straightening each leg while lifting up and down
Single leg squat: Any exercise that includes balance is great for the core. Squats work the glutes (along with the quads and hamstrings) and it also forces the abs to engage when balancing on one foot.
Clamshells: This exercise works the glute medius, which is an abductor and external rotator of the hip. You can do this with or without a band:
Superman: works the low back and glutes
You can download a core routine from this website
There are 3 levels of the McMillan Runners Core DVD
This book has total body workouts but it is mostly focused on the core
Websites with core information and workouts
Tips for injury prevention, strength workouts, mobility, and much more
Resources including core and strength workouts, along with options to subscribe to information
Runner’s World is always coming out with new core workouts and information about core strength
Just type “core” into the search bar and you will find lots of great core workouts
“Healthier” Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cake
After all that core work, how about some cake to balance things out? I don’t know if this is really a “cake”, but I was looking to bake and use up some old bananas, so I just kind of created this recipe. I tried to keep it a little healthier by using a banana and whole wheat flour, but my husband still approved!
1 medium or large ripe banana
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup chocolate chips
dash of salt, if desired
Preheat oven to 350. Grease a cake pan or brownie pan.
Melt butter and mix with peanut butter. Add mashed banana, eggs, syrup, sugar, vanilla, salt (if adding) and baking powder. Combine using a mixer. Stir in flour, then chocolate chips.
Pour mixture into pan, and bake for 25-30 minutes. (Baking time may vary based on pan being used)