Core training plays an important role in the endurance runner’s overall training programme. It improves running form and overall athletic performance and reduces the risk of injury.
The core is much more than just the abs. It includes all the muscles that stabilize and support the pelvis, spine, and trunk.
Core training should generally take place three times per week. Whether you run before or after work, schedule your core training at the opposite side of the day or during lunchtime, so that it won’t detract from your running.
Follow the sequence of exercises, do it twice. Make sure you fully recover between the two sets, rest 15 – 20 secs between exercises. Start with the following repetitions but increase it as you progress:

Abdominal crunch

20 repetitions

Leg pushaway

20 repetitions

Lying bridge

6 repetitions of 5 seconds each – squeeze the glutes when bringing the hips up

Swan
12 repetitions

Back extension
12 repetitions

Plank

4 repetitions of 14 seconds each

Side plank

3 repetitions of 10 seconds each

Standing knee hold

20 seconds on each leg

University of Montana Assistant Professor Richard Willy is the lead author on a paper that offers new guidelines for treating patellofemoral pain, often known as “runner’s knee.”

Patellofemoral pain (PFP) affects one in four of the general population every year, with women reporting PFP twice as often as men. The pain presents at the front of the knee, under and around the kneecap. Willy’s paper finds that exercise therapy – namely hip and knee strengthening treatments prescribed by a physical therapist – is the best recovery approach for individuals with PFP.

Willy is an assistant professor in UM’s School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences.

The recommendations were published Sept. 1 as a Clinical Practice Guideline in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, the official scientific journal of the Academy of Orthopaedic Physical Therapy. The Clinical Practice Guideline aims to improve the quality and standardization of care provided to patients with knee pain while also providing reimbursement guidelines for insurance companies. Key takeaways from the Clinical Practice Guideline include:

  • An exercise program that gradually increases activities such as running, exercise classes, sports or walking, is the best way to prevent PFP.
  • An important way to reduce the risk of PFP is maximizing leg strength, particularly the thigh muscles.
  • Pain does not always mean there is damage to the knee.

Bringing the science of high intensity interval training (HIIT) into everyday life could be the key to helping unfit, overweight people get more of the exercise they need to improve their health, according to an international research team.

From washing the car to climbing stairs or carrying groceries, each of these activities is an opportunity for short sharp bursts of ‘High Intensity Incidental Physical Activity’, HIIPA for short.

In an editorial, published today in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, Emmanuel Stamatakis and colleagues argue that when considering differences in physical capabilities by age, sex and weight, many daily tasks can be classified as ‘high intensity’ physical activity. That is, the kind of activity that gets you out of breath enough to boost your fitness.

They say incorporating these kinds of activities into routines a few times a day will see significant health benefits for the majority of adults.

For the typical middle-aged woman, 60 percent of whom are overweight and/or unfit activities like running and playing with children at children’s pace, walking uphill or riding home from work all expend well over six times as much energy per minute than when at rest, which is the standard measure for high intensity activity.

The authors suggest over the course of the day these activities could be used in the same way that the popular high intensity interval training (HIIT) works by repeating short sessions of high intensity exercise with rests in between.

There is a lot of research telling us that any type of HIIT, irrespective of the duration and number of repetitions is one of the most effective ways to rapidly improve fitness and cardiovascular health and HIIPA works on the same idea.

The authors propose that significant health benefits could be gained by doing three to five brief HIIPA sessions totalling as little as five to 10 minutes a day, most days of the week.

We know from several large studies of middle aged and older adults that doing vigorous exercise has great long-term health benefits, but many people find it very difficult to start and stick to an exercise program.

The beauty of HIIPA and the idea of using activities we are already doing as part of everyday life is that it is much more realistic and achievable for most people.

Other practical advantages are nil costs, no need for equipment and no concerns about a lack of skill or fitness.

It’s just about making good decisions like parking the car at the edge of the carpark and carrying shopping for 50 or 100 metres.”

The editorial, co-authored by academics from the University of Sydney, Loughborough University, University College London, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, and the National Research Centre for the Working Environment (Denmark), was prompted by recent changes to the 2018 US Physical Activity Guidelines, the most comprehensive review of physical activity and health.

Your genes can determine how your heart rate and blood pressure respond to exercise – and may act as an early warning of future problems with your heart or blood vessels – according to new research published in The Journal of Physiology.

When people exercise, their heart rate and blood pressure increase. However, the magnitude of this increase is different for different people. Previous research has shown that abnormally large increases in blood pressure during exercise makes it more likely that people will suffer from future high blood pressure. Therefore understanding why people react differently to exercise is important as this can help to identify risk factors and enable early monitoring or treatment of individuals at risk.

Until now it has not been known why the response to exercise varies between different people. This new research has found that genetic differences in receptors found in skeletal muscles can contribute to this different response. Receptors are groups of specialised cells that detect changes in the environment and cause some kind of response. The scientists identified that the presence of two common genetic mutations in receptors found in skeletal muscle led to higher blood pressure during exercise compared to people who did not have them, particularly in men.

The research conducted by the University of Guelph (Canada), involved measuring heart rate and blood pressure of 200 healthy young men and women before and during exercise, plus analysing their DNA for genetic risk factors.

With many recreational runners ramping up their training in hopes of getting a personal best, a new measure of stress in the body demonstrates that more isn’t better when it comes to endurance sport training.

A University of Guelph study is the first to show that overload training may alter firing in the body’s sympathetic nerve fibres, which could hinder performance.

The study revealed that muscle sympathetic nerve activity, which constricts the muscle’s blood vessels and indicates stress in the body, increased in over-trained athletes.

Athletes who follow a consistent training regime don’t have the same overload stress and demonstrate improvements in their overall fitness and other markers of cardiovascular health.

Published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, this is the first study to investigate the impact of overload training on muscle sympathetic nerve activity.

Previous studies have measured indirect physiological factors, such as heart rate variability, but examining muscle nerve fibre activity provides a direct measure of the nervous system’s response.

The researchers discovered sympathetic nerve activity increased in the overtrained athletes after the three-week period of overload training. Generally, sympathetic nerve activity stays pretty consistent day to day.

Recreational athletes who follow a regular balanced training programme showed no jump in nerve activity. Instead, they demonstrated improved cardiac reflex sensitivity and heart rate variability – signs of improved physical health.

Athletes who do overload training do not experience this same level of improved health. They don’t get worse, but they don’t get any better either, and their sympathetic nerve activity went up. It appears the overtraining negate some of the beneficial effects of regular training.

If you’re up there in age and feel like you can coast as a couch potato, you may want to reconsider. A new study suggests, for the first time in women over age 70, that working up a sweat can reduce the influence one’s genes have on obesity.

The message from the study is that your genetic risk for obesity is not wholly deterministic. The choices we make in our life play a large role in our health.

The study also revealed that genetic associations on BMI were strongest in sedentary postmenopausal women and weakest in women who reported high levels of recreational physical activity.

The study is significant in that, up to this point, little had been known about the effect of obesity genes later in life, particularly whether genetic predisposition can be mitigated by healthy behaviors such as physical activity, the researchers note.

It’s also one of a growing number of studies highlighting the benefits of being physically active, especially as it pertains to healthy aging.

The study was published last month in the journal Menopause.

By analyzing reported physical activity levels over time in more than 11 000 American adults, Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers conclude that increasing physical activity to recommended levels over as few as six years in middle age is associated with a significantly decreased risk of heart failure, a condition that affects an estimated 5 million to 6 million Americans.

The same analysis found that as little as six years without physical activity in middle age was linked to an increased risk of the disorder.

Unlike a heart attack, in which heart muscle dies, heart failure is marked by a long-term, chronic inability of the heart to pump enough blood, or pump it hard enough, to bring needed oxygen to the body. The leading cause of hospitalizations in those over 65, the disorder’s risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking and family history.

Think state-of-the-art shoes, performance diets and well-thought-out racing strategies are only for elite runners?

Think again.

In reality, the slower you are, the more such measures improve your finish times, suggests new University of Colorado Boulder research.

The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Physiology, takes a mathematical approach to answer a question that has perplexed exercise physiologists for years: How much does improving your body’s “running economy” – or the number of calories burned per second at an aerobic pace – really improve your speed?

The question has piqued the interest of the broader running community since July, 2017 when Nike introduced its Zoom Vaporfly 4% – a shoe that, according to previous CU research, improves running economy by 4 percent on average.

Members of the media, recreational athletes and some researchers have since assumed that meant runners wearing the shoes could cross the finish line 4 percent faster. With such savings, many predicted, a sub-2-hour marathon was well within reach.

But, according to the new study, the math is more complicated than that.

For the paper, the researchers re-examined treadmill studies of runners dating back decades, re-crunching the numbers to account for things like air resistance and oxygen uptake velocity (which both increase the faster you run).

They concluded that for runners moving slower than 9 minutes per mile, any percent improvement in running economy (due to better footwear, nutritional supplements, a tailwind, drafting or other measures) translates to an even higher percentage improvement in pace.

For instance, a 1 percent improvement in running economy for a 4:30:00 marathoner would make him or her 1.17 percent faster, dropping a significant 3 minutes and 7 seconds off their finish time.

On the flip side, for those who run faster than 9 minutes per mile, each percent improvement in the body’s gas mileage results in less than that percentage improvement in pace. For instance, that same 1 percent improvement in a 2:03:00 marathoner would enable him to run only .65 percent faster, a mere 47 second improvement.

All this is good news for recreational runners, say the authors.

A lot of times recreational runners assume these things are just going to benefit elite athletes when the reality is they can benefit even more than the elites.

A slower runner, slipping on a pair of shoes which improve running economy by 4 percent could actually translate to as much as a 5 percent improvement in finish times. Meanwhile, other measures to boost metabolic efficiency, such as drinking beet juice, drafting behind another runner, or doing plyometric exercises can also add up to boost speed.

For those at the upper end of the competitive spectrum however, the new paper elucidates something many intuitively know already: The faster you are, the harder it is to get faster.

Since the introduction of the 4% shoe, the authors note, the marathon world record has only improved by a relatively small 1.03 percent.

Shalaya Kipp, left, conducts a treadmill test in the Locomotion Lab at the University of Colorado Boulder. (photo: CU Boulder)