Found on LiveStrong.com and written by Jeremy Hoefs
Runners are creatures of habit in that they focus primarily on their specific running workouts. As a result, their other training, such as strength training or core training, may be neglected. However, runners who incorporate core strength training into their running workouts improve overall performance through efficient running economy, speed and power. As a runner, you can choose from a wide variety of exercises, but the top core exercises strengthen the abdominals, obliques and lower back muscles to maximize performance while reducing injuries.
According to Rick Morris from the Running Planet website, the abdominal crunch is a top core exercise for runners. The basic movement trains and strengthens the core and can be performed by runners of any ability level. Focus on proper form, controlled movements and breathing throughout the range of motion for each repetition. Advanced runners can perform variations of the crunch to increase intensity by using a medicine ball or stability ball.
The supine march core exercise activates the transverse abdominus that helps to stabilize the pelvis and lumbar spine while running. Matt Fitzgerald from Competitor.com suggests that the movement forces your legs to move freely and alternately while maintaining stabilization. To perform the supine marches, lie face up with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Then, alternate lifting one leg until the foot is even with the opposite knee. Repeat with each leg for a total of 20 repetitions per leg.
Rotational exercises recruit the obliques along with the rectus abdominus to improve your ability to control rotational forces while running. The best exercise to improve rotational strength and stability is a standing trunk rotation on a cable machine. You can perform this exercise by holding a cable pulley machine and rotating your shoulders to pull the weight across your body. Perform 10 repetitions per side and repeat for a total of three to five sets.
Mark Verstegen, owner of Athletes’ Performance training facility and author of “Core Performance,” suggests that pillar bridges are a top core exercise for building overall stability and strength in the abdominals and obliques. Unlike other core exercises, pillar bridges use a static motion where you don’t move. To perform pillar bridges, lie face down and place your forearms under your chest. Lift your body off the floor, and hold your body straight for 30 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds and repeat for a total of three to five sets.