Strength Training for Marathoners

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SEA Games gold medal-winning marathoner Soh Rui Yong answers all your questions in his new column on RUN Singapore! He’ll also get the help of industry experts to chip in, so keep reading for more every fortnight.

Question
It’s obvious that runners need strong leg muscles, but what about the other parts of your body? Do you think it’s important to train other muscle groups like your core?

Soh Rui Yong says:

Yes of course! In the late stages of a distance race, your form can break down if your core is not strong enough to hold your fatigued body together. Running with a poor or inefficient form for extended periods of time can lead to injuries and longer down times after races. Hence, core training is important both to increase running performance as well as to minimize the risk of injury. I’m quite partial to planks and often incorporate side planks, reverse planks and walking planks just for fun. It’s great because you can just drop and do it anywhere, without any equipment!

Expert’s Advice

Chung Tze Khit, Founder and Managing Director of Gold’s Gym Singapore says

A powerful core does wonders for runners, after all, you will be upright for an arduous distance. So to avoid ending up like a limp noodle midway through your race, developing your core muscles will reduce your risk of injury and improve your overall performance.

Especially with distance running, core muscles are crucial in the latter stages of a race when fatigue sets in and form begins to slacken. The stronger you are, the longer you can maintain your form, which naturally translates to improved performance and a lowered propensity for injury.

A few of my favourite core exercises include your basic plank (along with its many variations). Hold for a minimum of 30 seconds at a time, rest and repeat. Gradually increase the duration and number of repetitions as you feel it getting easier. Another fun, easy and cheap way to get an excellent core workout in is the ab wheel.

A few points to note when using the ab wheel to avoid strain: avoid arching your lower back and keep your head down, in a neutral position. If you’re feeling bored, you can even combine your plank exercises with your ab roller to mix things up and keep things fun.

Rui Yong Soh

Rui Yong Soh

Soh Rui Yong is a two-time SEA Games marathon gold medallist and has now set his sights on qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Games. Follow him on Instagram: @runsohfast.
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