Friday, November 14, 2008

Core competency

I was listening to a podcast with Craig Alexander, the winner of this year's Ironman Triathlon. Craig was giving shout-outs to hammerheads who assisted him with his preparation and it wasn't long until he moved to Dave Scott, the six-time Ironman World Champion who set the stage for much of today's endurance training and racing protocols.

Craig explained how Dave had taken him to the gym for a core training workout. By the time it was over, Alexander was on the couch in a fetal position; he said the 54-year-old Scott crushed him with the routine.

Core training is really important to overall performance. Strength at the core helps you to carry your body well while running and also lends to confidence because we feel power at the center of our effort.

I integrate core training into my plans each week. Check out the image above; doing push-ups off an exercise ball forces you to isolate the core muscles while working the arms and chest. I work to isolate my midriff area while doing 50 clean repetitions.

While swimming, I go for a very long extension and then "catch" the water, which allows for a long pulling stroke from the core. This motion repeated hundreds of times during my one-hour swim brings strength to my midsection.

I also do "planks" at the gym (see top photo). I hold the position for a minute or so, then bring a leg up under my body, hold, then stretch it back out behind me - 10 repetitions on each side. This motion while holding the plank position targets many midriff muscles.

Adding options to your program will make you a better athlete. And when you operate from the core, you will power forward like never before.


  1. Great post. Check your e-mail, buddy.

  2. Hey Tom, glad you enjoyed the Tom Walker half marathon!!! Also, a comment on your core stuff: I agree it can help you in all your athletic endeavors. A variation on the swiss ball pushups you showed above is to use your hands on the ball instead of your legs. It is MUCH more difficult! I can do the raised leg pushups all day long, but the other way around is TOUGH. See you!