Having a strong core helps runners maintain proper running form, and maintaining proper running form can improve performance and prevent injuries.
#1 Reverse Crunch
What you need- a yoga mat or soft surface and a weight (advanced)
Lie on your back with your feet flat on the ground and your knees bent. Using your lower abdominals lift your hips off the ground, bring your knees to your chest. Slowly bring your feet back to the mat. Going slow is the key. Do 2-3 sets of 12.
Advanced Form- Place a weight behind your head and hold onto it with both hands. Lift your hips off the ground using your lower abdominals and keep going until you feel your mid back lift off the ground. Then slowly lower your legs back down. You should feel your abdominals working the entire time. Do 2-3 sets of 12.
As I lower myself back down, I make each part of my back touch the mat. When my lower back is back on the mat, I focus on getting my belly button to the mat, so that there is no space between my back and the mat.
What you need- yoga mat, flat surface
This exercise is simple, but effective. It works your entire back and your glutes. Lie on your stomach with your arms out in front of you. Lift your arms, your torso, and your legs off the ground as high as you can. Keep your legs and arms straight. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds. Repeat this 3 times.
Tip- Don’t worry about how high you can get your arms and legs. Activating your back muscles and glutes makes this exercise effective.
If 20 seconds is too long, don’t worry. Holding this for 5 seconds is a great start. I find this exercise to be one of the hardest exercises to get back into, but I also notice the greatest gains in back strength when I add this back into my routine.
#3 Side Plank with or without Leg Raises
What you need- a yoga mat
Lie on your left side with your feet stacked. With your left arm bent at a 90 degree angle, and your right arm by your side, lift your side off the ground, keeping your body as straight as possible. Keep your hips facing forward. Think strong abs, tight body, and hold for 30 seconds. Switch sides and repeat.
To add leg raises, keep your body straight and lift your leg up as high as you can, then bring it back down. This is one. These should be quick. Do 12 on each side. These burn, but you can do it!
Tip- Bring your leg back down quickly but carefully so that you don’t bang your ankles together.