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Running In The New Year & Core Strength

Updated on January 26, 2010

Well, here we are, two weeks into the New Year.  Many of us have found ourselves recommitted to our own personal health, and are working on ways to be healthier.  Personally, I have recommitted to my running regimen.  I have already completed two 5K’s this year, and have registered for two more next month.  I am well on my way to getting into better shape.  The first 5k, my goal was to finish in less than 45 minutes and to jog the entire thing.  I accomplished this goal and completed my first 5k of the year in 42:30.  One week later I ran another 5k on a hill course and finished in 39:19.  This was a drastic improvement in such a short amount of time.  A little focus and a lot of dedication goes a long way, I am finding.  I may not want to go to the gym five nights a week, but I need to get into shape if I am ever going to reach my goal of competing in an Iron Woman Triathlon. 


I have managed to even get a small group of people together from my work, that are now participating in many of these 5k’s with me, which is nice.  My biggest frustration is going to the gym at 4:30 in the afternoon, at a time that a short while ago was dead at my gym, and now having trouble finding a treadmill or weight machines that are open for me to use.  I have decided that there is more that I can do, than just go to the gym and run to get into shape.  After running my first 5k, I found that my core was very sore (meaning my abs, oblique’s and even my back.  I realized that I can work my core at home, I don’t have to go to the gym to get a good core work out in! 

I went to a local retail store, and purchased my own stability ball.  The ball came with some basic examples of things I could use the ball for, as a way to work on my core strength, so I was off to a great start.  At first I found it difficult to stay on the ball, I would wiggle, things would shake and I even fell off the ball a few times.  At least I was at home, in the comfort of my own living room, so no one saw my many efforts trying to balance on the ball!  Over the next week I got more comfortable with the 10, or so, routines that came with the ball and decided to find more ways to challenge myself.  I found that the internet was a plethora of knowledge or had many sites that included different ways that I could use my stability ball to increase my core strength.  Let me share a few of my favorites with you!  I do three sets of 15 reps of each of the following exercises four days a week. 


Back Extensions

Position the ball under your hips, with your legs extended out straight behind you, with your toes on the floor.  Put your hands behind your head, elbows out to the sides.  Bend at the waist, bending yourself over the ball, and then lift your chest back up off the ball until your back is in a straight line with your legs, with your abs pulled in and tight.


Butt Lifts

Lay on top of the ball, using the ball to support your neck and shoulders, bend your knees at a 90 degree angle, so that your body looks like a table.  Without moving the ball, lower your hips down towards the ground; go as low as you can with out allowing the ball to move.  Then, being sure to press on your heels and not your toes, squeeze your glutes to raise your hips back up until your body is in a table like position again.  Once I got proficient at this and it got to easy, I placed my hand weights on my hips while doing this exercise. 


Basic Stability Ball Sit Up

Place the top of the ball beneath the center of your back, in a sitting-like position. Press the lower back into the ball, tightening your abs and curl your abs toward your pelvis.


Oblique Sit Ups

This is very similar to the last exercise.  You will start by positioning the center of your back over the top of the ball, staggering your feet.  Then rotate your hips to one side.  Hold your hip in that position and crunch diagonally towards your legs (move your left elbow towards the inside of your right thigh) keeping your neck and pelvis stable.

No matter what your fitness level, or what your goal is, adding some core strength training routines to your work out regimen will give you an additional boost.


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