About the Author


Mike Engelsman

Mike has been a run coach with can too since 2016. He has coached some amazing runners in the North pod and helped them finish the New York marathon. Mike is a run coach for Runlab, a personal trainer and massage therapist. The biggest part of his life is running and fitness and Mike runs marathons and ultra marathons on a regular basis. 


- Diploma of Fitness

- Diploma of Remedial Massage

More posts by Mike Engelsman

Core Exercises To Improve Your Running Form

by Mike Engelsman 20 Mar 2017

We all know that our core is key when it comes to our running form; however our core muscles are generally misunderstood and neglected, as it involves much more than just our ‘abs’. Our abs are definitely part of our core or trunk muscles but it involves other muscles on the front, side and back as well:

  • Abdominals (rectus abdominus which forms the 6 pack)
  • Obliques (the ‘side abs’)
  • Quadratus Lomborum (QL) also known as the lower back
  • Gluteals also known as your buttock
  • Erector Spinae group (officially not a ‘core’ muscle but definitely important for posture when running, because it supports the spine).

All of our core muscles are equally important and require training to help you with your running posture. Strengthening these muscles and training them for endurance is important as you will be able to run longer as you train for your target event. The longer you run the longer you need your core muscles to support you.

So what can you do to strengthen your core muscles?

It’s important to train your core 3-4 times per week by following a core workout.  Mixing up your core workouts by selecting one exercise for your front, sides and back will make it easier for you to fit your core workout into your day. Remember to use all the exercises in your routine and not stick to the same ones each day.

Front Exercise

1. Sit ups

Lie down on the floor with your knees bent, place your hands on your knees and then come up until your elbows touch your knees, then slowly lower yourself down again. If this is too hard reach up as far as you can and use your hands to grab your knees and pull yourself up.

  • Do 3 sets of 15 repetitions, with 30 seconds rest in between

2. Plank

Lie face down and push yourself up onto your forearms and toes. If this is too hard place your knees on the ground instead of your toes but try to keep a straight back.

  • Do 3 sets and hold for 30-45 seconds or more, with 30 seconds rest in between

3. Leg raises

Lie flat on your back with your legs straight, place your hands next to your body and lift your straight legs in the air as far as you can, then slowly lower them back down but don’t touch the ground, then lift them up again. If this is to hard then try it with bent knees.

  • Do 3 sets of 15 repetitions, with 30 seconds rest in between

4. Mountain Climbers

Get in to a high plank position (On your hands, not elbows) and alternate bringing your knees to your chest at a fast pace.

  • Do 3 sets for 30-45 seconds or more, with 30 seconds rest in between

Side Exercise

1. Side Plank

Get into the plank position onto 1 elbow and the side of your feet, raise one hand and hold that position.

  • Do 3 sets and hold for 30-45 seconds or more on each side, with 30 seconds rest in between

2. Russian Twist

Sit down with your knees bent and then lift your feet slightly off the floor. Rotate your torso to the left and touch the floor, then rotate to the right to touch the ground. You can keep your feet on the ground if it is too hard or your lower back hurts.

  • Do 3 sets of 30 (15 each side), with 30 seconds rest in between

3. Bicycle crunches

Lie down on your back with your knees bent and your feet in the air, put your hands behind your head and move your left elbow to your right knee and then your right elbow to your left knee. Keep alternating this movement.

  • Do 3 sets of 30 (15 each side), with 30 seconds rest in between

4. Windshield wipers

Lie on your back and raise you straight legs in the air. Lower your legs sideways almost to the ground (or as far as you can) to then bring them back up and lower them to the other side. If this is too hard you can do it with your knee bent.

  • Do 3 sets of 20 (10 each side), with 30 seconds rest in between

Back Exercises

1. Bulgarian split squat

Put the top of one of your feet behind you on a bench/chair/bed (or any other elevated surface) but don’t put any pressure through that foot. Squat down with the front foot as far as you can and make sure your front knee stays behind your toes (ideally this knee doesn’t move forward), then slowly come back up.

  • Do 3 sets of 30 (15 each side), with 30 seconds rest in between

2. Super person

Lie face down with your hands in front of your body. Then slightly raise your arms and legs (as far as it’s comfortable) off the floor. The higher you lift, the harder it is. Step 2 and 3 can be done if both arms and legs in the air is too hard.

  • Hold that for 7 seconds and then rest for 3 seconds – this is one rep. Do 3 sets of 6 reps with 30 seconds rest in between sets.

3. Sit to stand

Sit on a chair with your hands next to your body. Lift one foot off the ground and firmly place the other foot on the ground. Try to stand up keeping one foot in the air. Try to stand up. If you can’t do this, then find something higher to sit on and try again.

  • Do 3 sets of 30 (15 each side), with 30 seconds rest in between

If you are unsure how to perform any of the core workouts ask your coach to give you a demonstration.


 Get Professionally Coached for the Queenstown Marathon! Can Too offers professionally coached, structured training programs for beginner runners fundraising for cancer research. Can Too has trained 13,500 beginners for challenge events like the Queenstown Marathon. Training starts Wednesday 5 July 2017 — secure your place today!


Leave a Comment

^ Scroll up

Thank you to our Partners

Macquarie Bank
FinzBrooksMinter EllisonMade With EdRun Nation Running Film FestivalTriathon NSWOgilvy PR HealthPitcher PartnersFancy FilmsProactiveAthletics NSWATEC

Sign up to our newsletter