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Want to see videos of the workout? Learn these moves online. Go to runnersworld.com/corevalues.
So what's the best way to improve your core performance? Exercises that challenge gravity and simulate the demands running makes on your muscles—called balance exercises. "Balance training recruits the muscles you use while running and gives you the ability to properly catch yourself, which minimizes your chance of fatigue or injury," says trainer Nancy Cummings, Ed.D., C.S.C.S., professor at Florida Southern College.
The following exercises all challenge your balance in a variety of ways. Do the entire workout twice a week.
THE WORKOUTBuild Deep Core Strength and Stability
Assume a modified plank position with your knees and feet on the ground (12 to 18 inches apart) and your elbows and forearms on a stability ball. Keep your arms about shoulder-width apart and your hands in loose fists. Spell out the letters of the alphabet by making small movements that roll the ball from your elbows onto your forearms. The subtle moves and unpredictability of the way you're drawing each letter will "fry" your abs, says Jeff Plasschaert, M.S., C.S.C.S.
Lift one knee off the ground and do A to M while balanced on one knee, N to Z while balanced on the other.
From start to finish, spell out your favorite motivational running quote. In italics!
More: Balance Ball Total-Body Workout