Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Hills and Planks

As you can see, I did the Santa Shuffle and enjoyed the Finisher's Medal at the end. Okay I also enjoyed the Hot Chocolate that was available. It was a good race, I thought the course used was a good one. It was 2 laps of 2.6 km. It started out on a trail and then sidewalk, which was nice and flat and kind of boring. And then we reached the Silver Lake area. That's when it got very interesting and had some very nice climbs.
Some very solid climbing, enough of a climb that it could have affected a person's time. I don't want to brag, but I managed a negative split on the run, 14:30 first lap, 14:20 the second one. Needless to say I was very happy with the result. However, this is not the purpose of today's blog. As I was doing the climb and even managing to pass other runners, I thought to myself: "this is why I do planks and hills". I saw a poster that has this message:
Hills are not easy, no matter what the grade. Certainly the steeper the greater the challenge, but no matter what, a hill gives a better workout. It is easy to assume a hill has to be some big honkin' sucker that leaves you stopping to put your lungs back into your chest, but any hill work does something to you and helps with the running. I came across this article, and it says it all. Hills help. Hills develop the muscles. Hills give stamina. Then there are planks. From what I've gathered, planks are controversial. There are some who praise them as a wonderful exercise to do if you're a runner, and others state they don't do anything for runners.

I'm not an expert and I can only share what I've experienced and how I feel about planks. As I consider my running, I can only say I feel it has helped. Before I was a bad posture runner, my shoulders were curved, my back was not straight and I probably used more energy then I should by my posture. I know when I did any hill work, I would slump into myself, and again waste energy fighting my posture. That is the problem with bad posture and running, you waste so much energy trying to get around. The posture becomes the problem. The reason, the core is not strong enough. Without a strong core, too much energy is being wasted fighting the posture.

Now when I consider my posture, I notice I don't have the rounded shoulders over hunched over back. I also notice that when I straighten myself up to run up a hill, there is more power. My arms swing without limitation. In other words, I don't feel I'm fighting myself when I run. I wouldn't use words or phrases such as 'graceful' and 'seemingly without exertion' to describe my running style, but I do feel that extra energy being used. I'm not fighting my posture any more. At least that's what I feel when I run. I'm not claiming any scientific study or truth in what I write, but my experience has changed as I run.

Perhaps the key is found in the phrase, I'm not fighting my posture any more. As the core is made stronger the posture does change and I'm able to use the energy to push forward or push up. A straighter posture seems to work through all parts of the running experience, either on the straight or on the hills.

I give no scientific data or explanation to any of this, all I know is, my core is stronger and that has helped my running experience. I will continue to do Wall Planks.

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