Core ClassCan you really get quicker through improving core strength?

I was sceptical when many of my fellow runners and triathletes started talking about doing Julie’s core classes. How can you possibly get quicker by spending some of your limited training budget time not running, swimming or cycling?! Madness I thought.

However, I’m also of the philosophy that you can’t continue to do the same things and expect a different outcome. I’ve always taken a winter break to give my body chance to recover – not a full break just a couple of months of low intensity training. This winter I decided to try something new and during this period, and then after, I added one of Julie’s core sessions to my weekly routine. This involves a mix of stretches (static and dynamic) and also circuit type exercises. At first I had no idea what was going on (some would say that is still the case now!) but Julie leads the group through all the exercises and adopts them as needed for anyone with any injuries etc.

My initial scepticism has been proven wrong. My race times had started to plateau in recent years and this year I’ve taken nearly a minute of my 5k time (now under 19 mins), 5 mins off my half marathon time (down now to 1hr 27mins) and I’m looking forward to smashing my 10k and marathon times in coming weeks (hopefully not jinxed it!). This has been achieved with broadly similar levels of training to previous seasons and I firmly believe this is due to adding core sessions to my training plan.

Several other runners I run with who didn’t know I was doing core have commented on how more efficient and smooth my running style is now. I think the key benefits I’ve found from improving the core are:

–          Increased recovery time after runs – I’ve never felt better on immediately completing a long run or the day after. This has improved the consistency of training with less missed training sessions with injuries, niggles etc.

–          Feeling of relaxation, strength and confidence in a race. I think this is due to more focus on controlling breathing and also due to lots of quick recovery during core sessions training the brain to endure the inevitable challenging periods during a run and recover quickly.

The sessions are good fun, with a complete mix of people with everyone made welcome. If you’re lucky DJ Steve is also there with his best tunes to help keep you motivated.