Running Week 5: Core Exercises for Running

By Alexandra Caspero on January 31, 2013

New here? Check out Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, of our 12 Week Running Challenge!

Happy almost February! Can you believe the first month of the year is almost over?

Time for a check-in! We are 1/3 of the way through our 12 weeks. Are you still hanging in there?  It takes 21-days for something new to become a habit so I hope you have found that with your running! As always, let me know if you need more information from me: workout ideas, meal ideas, ect. That’s my job.

I’d love to know how your progress is going- tell me in the comments!

Today’s post is all about CORE strength.

I’m talking specifically about the muscles of your stomach, back & hips. If you’ve been running with us these past few weeks, you’ve probably already noticed a stronger heart and stronger legs, but core strength could be what’s missing! Weak core muscles can lead to injuries; a strong core improves your performance and helps with distance runs. The stronger your core, the more stable you are as you hit the ground. A well-balanced core also improves your running economy. Result: faster times.

(Plus, don’t we all secretly aim for a tight tummy?)

This is my favorite core routine and one that helps build a strong and stable core. To start, try doing the exercises below, spending 45-60 seconds on each. Rest 10 seconds before going on to the next one. Can’t do 45 seconds? Don’t worry! We are all starting from different fitness levels. Do what works for YOU. Don’t compromise form for time. If you can only do a move for 5 seconds, start there. After your done, take a 5 minute break and then repeat the whole series 2-3 times. Try to do this routine three times a week.

You know how everyone says that you should work out while watching TV? Well, this really is the perfect routine to do while watching TV! There’s no equipment involved and very little space needed.

If you have time for Modern Family, you have time for this. Sometimes getting fit is all about challenging your excuses.



Everyone loves planks, no? I love planks and make my body sculpt classes do them every since day! Why? Well, for one, most everyone can do some modification of it and it’s always a challenge- no matter what your fitness level.

Start by lying onto your stomach and push yourself up to a modified pushup position. You can come to your toes or onto your knees. The goal is to be in as straight of a line as possible, using your abdominal muscles to pull you in and hold. Watch your pelvis. If you feel weight in your low back, make sure you aren’t arching or rounding you back.


Imagine pulling your belly button into your spine to prevent your hips from pressing toward the ceiling.

Do your shoulders hurt in the above versions? Try doing the modified pushup version instead! Drop to your knees and bring your hands underneath your shoulders.  Focus your eyes on a spot midway between your hands and slightly forward to keep spine in neutral alignment. Hold abdominal tight so the back remains supported, and keep that straight line from knees to head.

Marching Planks


Another goodie. Don’t I look so happy to be demonstrating core moves for you?

This one is a little more advanced, so modify if needed.

Start in a side plank position: Elbow under your shoulder, pressed up onto your toes and forearm. Starting with the bottom leg, pull it in towards your chest while still maintaining your side plank pose. Hold for 5 seconds, place it down and repeat 6 times. Don’t lose your side-plank form. If you notice your hip dropping to the floor, pull it back up. If you can’t hold your hip up, or if  your chest falls forward, stop, take a break and try again. Warm up to how many repetitions is right for you.


Repeat, but now with the top leg. Same as before, try keeping your side plank form as you bring your leg up. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 6 times, if able.

Plank with Diagonal Arm Reach


Think back to how you did your earlier plank. If you were on your knees for that one, start on your knees here. If you could hold plank on your toes, do the same for this move as well.

The goal of this move it to stabilize your core as you balance on one arm. Starting with your right arm, extend it out in front of you, at a diagonal. Hold for up to 60 seconds. If your hips start to drop, drop your arm, rest and repeat. Switch to the left arm and repeat.

Plank with Alternating Leg Lifts


Start in the same plank position as you did in exercise 1. Slowly raise one leg off the floor. (Because of the BOSU position, it looks like my toe is resting on it. Whoops! It’s not.) Count to two and slowly lower your leg to the floor. Switch legs and repeat. Build your way up to doing this for 60 seconds.

Plank to Push-Up


My ‘Oh baby’ move!

Start in a pushup position, either on your knees or toes.  Your back should be fairly straight and your butt down, in line with the rest of your body.

Moving one arm at a time, come down towards the floor into a fore-arm plank position.  Keep your back straight and your abdominal muscles tight.


Once you reach the plank position, move one arm at a time back into the starting pushup position. Again, try working up to repeating these moves for 60 seconds.



That’s it! A quick, 5 series workout guaranteed to improve your core strength, whatever your level. Need less? Try doing all 5 moves, holding for as long as form allows, and then stopping. Need more? Try repeating the moves 4-5 times, with little rest in between.

I’ve got a few more strength and stretch routines coming your way, so be on the lookout for those! What’s your favorite core exercise?

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Meet Alex Caspero

Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, New York Times Bestselling Plant-Based Chef and mom of two. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.

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    1. Hannah
      February 3, 2013 AT 7:31 am

      Okay, here’s where I’ll admit that I never, and I mean NEVER workout. It’s something I keep meaning to change, but I’m sure you know all the old excuses… I love how you broke down these moves in easy-to-follow photos though, it makes it seem so much less intimidating! If I can just get motivated now, I definitely know where to start. 🙂 Thank you!