3 Elite Trail Runners on Core and Strength Training

Meghan Hicks 

  • 34
  • Runner-up at the 2012 Three Days of Syllamo 20K, and fifth at the event's 50-miler
  • iRunFar.com's senior editor and contributor to Trail Runner and Marathon & Beyond

"Some people don't seem to need extra core or strength work, and some do. Some people mix in hiking, backpacking, climbing and scrambling with trail running, and this diversity can serve as movement-based core/strength enhancers, precluding the need to do anything at home or in the gym. 

"Others who are less biomechanically sound while running need some extra core and strength work so they don't get injured. 

"For the last couple of years, I've been doing core/strength stuff one time per week during my off season, when I'm running for fun, and twice per week when I'm training for goal races. I have a hip and low-back imbalance that tends to manifest if I'm doing a lot of running and not keeping everything balanced through core/strengthwork."

More: Prevent Running Overuse Injuries in 6 Steps

For new and veteran trail runners, Hicks recommends a quick, equipment-free routine that can be completed athome. These exercises target the muscles in the core and hips, which propel runners forward and laterally. 

"I incorporate exercises requiring one-leg balance because trail runners encounter uneven ground, upon whichthey must stay balanced through each footfall," says Hicks. "I recommend exercises that take all of the joints in the lower half of the body through a greater range of motion than what is required by the running because this full range of motion, muscle strength and pliability can sometimes be lost in running-centric athletes."

More: Strength Train to Improve Running Economy

Meghan Hick's Top Three Core Exercises for Trail Runners

One-Leg Tip/Dips 
  • Stand on one leg, keeping your lower-leg muscles relaxed and your hip/core muscles engaged. 
  • Put your hands on your hips and bend forward from the ball-and-socket joint of the standing leg. 
  • As you bend forward, extend the other leg behind you, keeping it and your torso as one straight unit. 
  • Once your lifted leg and torso are parallel to the ground, hold this for a count of 3, and slowly return tostanding. 
  • At one-leg standing, complete a one-leg squat in 3 counts. 
  • Begin by doing 5 one-leg tip/dip repetitions with each leg; build until you can do 3 sets of 15 repetitionson each leg.

More: 6 Exercises to Become a Stronger Runner

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