Core Training Is Great, But There’s An Elephant Staring at Me

You’ve just eaten an entire bag of oreos.  To rationalize it, you eat one carrot in hopes that it will cancel out all of the oreos.  Mmmm I love oreos. What? Who? Where Am I? Oh! My article.  Read on:

I love core exercises and I love doing them every day.  In fact, you should do them every single day if you want to remain healthy.

I follow and look at many different popular distance running websites, blogs, and twitter feeds.  I must say that I have recently noticed a gaining popularity in great exercises such as the single leg glute bridge, clamshells, and single leg squats.  My first thought is “This is awesome! People are finally understanding things!”

While it’s amazing that the running community is starting to understand the importance of hip function as a predictor of any running injury,   I do have quite an important critique that seems to get ignored in the running community.
Perhaps it has to do with a certain level of denial? Elephant in the room that no one wants to mention? Well I’m going to mention it here.

If you are a distance runner and your training is a mileage based program, as in you have slow easy mileage as a staple in your program, these strength/core exercises might not only be useless, but contraindicated.

Let me explain with some simple math:
Most elite runners are averaging about 180 steps per minute, so for an easy mile (7 min/mile) that comes out to about 1200 steps per mile.
Think about that – running a 7 minute mile averages to about 1200 steps.  That’s 1200 advanced repetitions.
So your body is moving a specific way for 1200 reps in a less than full range of motion at the hips, and now you want to help improve the hip function with some bridging.  How many reps of bridging do you really think is going to help change the way your body moves after you’ve done 1200 reps with it already? 1200 bridges to cancel it out? Because 5-10 reps of bridges certainly won’t do it.  That’s like eating an entire bag of oreos and…Oh wait I already said this.

Sure – go ahead – try doing 1200 bridges – and that’s only if you run ONE mile every day. Not only can you not do this, but you will most certainly get injured trying.

If you’re constantly getting injured with this mileage based approach, the problem isn’t your lack of strength/core training, it’s your abundance of slow, easy jogging.

Too much volume.  THAT’s the problem.  I applaud the running community for making people aware of hip dysfunction as a cause of running injuries, but please start addressing the bigger issue here – for it is far more important than what shoes you wear or what kind of strength program you have.

You can’t strength train your way out of a bad running routine.