A great core workout for runners

Last week, I had my first personal training session, and I had DOMS for days afterwards (in an awesome way!). The idea was to put together a training plan to work alongside my marathon training, which would fix some of my (many!) weaknesses and imbalances in order to make my running more efficient and less injury prone. A PB or two wouldn’t hurt, either!

My trainer put together a 1-hour workout that I’m to try and fit in 2-3 times a week, and alongside this I’ll also be following my marathon plan which includes 3 weekly runs (one tempo/hills, one recovery, and one long). There are a couple of sprint intervals in the gym workout, which should hopefully increase my cadence and get me running faster. Fingers crossed!

With the marathon training season creeping up on us, and the base miles already in progress, I thought I’d share this workout for those that fancy trying it! This is obviously just a guide, and the sets, reps, speeds and weights can easily be adjusted to suit your own fitness levels.

Warm up: Cardio/Summit Trainer. (Pick a cardio option and level that suits you).

Intervals: 400m warmup, followed by sets of 200m sprint intervals. I stuck to a comfortable 11:00/mile warmup, before working my way up to a final sprint set at a 7:30/mile pace with a 100m recovery after each. (My heart rate was high enough for my trainer to exclaim ‘you’re only 24!’. But I managed to stay on the treadmill, so there’s that…).

Plank on elbows: I aimed for sets of 20-30 seconds, but I imagine lots of you can hold it for far longer! Make sure you keep your feet together, and abs and glutes squeezed tight. Don’t forget to breathe! (You’d be surprised at how many times my trainer had to remind me…) If you fancy a challenge, this site has some great variations.

Lunges: I did sets of 6 reps for each leg. Keep your body upright and concentrate on keeping your muscles engaged.

Bridge roll-ups: Lying on your back with your feet up on a step, push up into a bridge position, squeeze and then slowly return to the floor. (Try and lower yourself gradually, with your hips reaching the floor last).

Dead bug: Lying on your back with knees bent at 90 degrees and your arms extended straight above your shoulders, keeping the torso tight, lower the opposite arm and leg to the floor. Focus on keeping your back on the floor – if you struggle with this, and find your back arching (I did), keep your arms extended and just focus on lowering your legs. (Check out this video for a demonstration).

Squats: Keeping your feet hip-width apart, drop to a squat. If you fancy a variation, raise your arms above your head. Focus on keeping your back straight, and try not to lean forwards.

Cable rotation: Pick the weight based on your own fitness level. (I started with around 6kg). Be sure to keep your arms straight, and try not to hunch your shoulders! With your feet hip-width apart, rotate your torso as far as you can, allowing your hips to turn. Keep the movement slow and controlled – you can see a video example here. (I’ve always avoided this end of the gym because it’s full of big sweaty guys making funny noises and I get a little intimidated – but my trainer rightly pointed out that they’re usually just flexing their guns in the mirror and looking at themselves!).

Intervals: 400m warmup, then sets of 200m intervals (as above).

Finish by having a thorough stretch. This is definitely my favourite bit!

What are your favourite exercises? Do you include core work as part of your training?

First ever weights workout!

I have puny arms. Like really, really puny arms. My legs, on the other hand, are solid. They can carry me for miles, and thanks to my quads and calves I generally have a serious issue getting into skinny jeans – but my arms? They even start to ache if I take too long to blowdry my hair.

I decided that this needed to be fixed. I’ve nailed the running (well, the doing it part) and the cross training (again, getting there!) but I’ve definitely neglected any form of strength training. Mainly because the weights area in the gym is full of really big people making funny noises, and I find it slightly intimidating.

Luckily, my boyfriend has a ton of weights at home, as well as all of the other bits and pieces to go with them:


I quite liked the gloves, though they were a bit big and my fingers kind of disappeared once I relaxed my hand.

My boyfriend kindly went through his usual routine with me, and guided me through either the same, or an equivalent exercise (obviously at a MUCH lower weight!) Through the session, we covered:

Pressups as a warmup. I managed .. Erm .. One and a half? (Baby steps ..)

Bicep curls I started with a tiny 1kg weight on the bar, which still felt pretty heavy – these exercises look so easy, but flipping heck, keeping your form over an entire set is HARD. In a word, I sucked at this – I couldn’t for the life of me keep my upper body still. I definitely need to work on this one.

Tricep extensions I did these seated, as I didn’t really trust myself with a big metal bar next to my head with my lack of arm strength. I stayed at a 1kg weight, and just focused on my form more than anything else (my elbows kept moving all over the place). I still felt it though!

Tricep Kickbacks This one I quite enjoyed, though instead of isolating the triceps I kept accidentally using my shoulder muscles; but by the second set (and with my boyfriend keeping my arm in the right place) I got the hang of it and managed to up the weight a bit to 2kg.

Hammer curls Again, I found these quite hard. I couldn’t isolate my upper arms, and found it hard to target the biceps – but I’m sure this one will get easier with practise.

Bent over row‘ I really liked this one, and managed to up the weight to 2.5kg. I guess my triceps and back are stronger than my (non-existent) biceps! My arms were definitely aching by this point.

In the end I managed 2 sets of 10-15 reps for each exercise, which I was pretty happy with for my first try 🙂 And we even finished things off with a plank session! I lasted 30 seconds. Again, I definitely need to do this more often.

Not sure how happy my muscles will be when I get to the pool tomorrow morning, but that’s another story! Maybe I’ll just swim without using my arms ..