How to Unlock Proper Core Engagement for Running

Just like driving a car, your running should be capable of switching gears. Learn how to dial into the proper core engagement for running with one simple exercise.

Core Engagement For Running: How Does It Affect Our Running?

core engagement for running

Your core controls how much power you can put out AND sustain, as you run.

Depending on the distance or terrain of your run, the level of this power output (or lack thereof) can make or break you.

So how do you take control of how hard you’re working?

Your core engagement is the amount of tension created in your midsection and central posture.

The higher the tension, the more power and strength you should be able to get from from your legs, hips, glutes, etc to drive the body forward.

On the other hand, the lower that tension, the weaker your form becomes and the less power you have to endure your run.

To gain control over your core engagement, you must first find (and be able to sustain) your maximum level of tension.

Core Engagement For Running: How To Find Max Tension

core engagement for running

The plank position is a simple way to use gravity to force the body into response.

A solid plank position should directly mirror how your body looks when you run:

  • Head is neutral.
  • Butt and belly squeezed.
  • Shoulders dropped away from the ears.
  • Lats pulled down.
  • Knees and feet stacked under the hips.

An engaged core guarantees these details to stay in place.

The moment it relaxes, things fall apart.

So here’s the drill:

  • You’re going to find a plank position.
  • Hands slightly wider than shoulder’s width apart.
  • Wrists directly under the shoulders.
  • Butt and belly squeezed.
  • Feet squeezed together.
  • Hips directly parallel to the ground.
  • Head neutral.
  • From here you’ll hold 20-30 seconds.

Repeat your QUALITY plank hold 3-5 times, with a 30-45 second rest between.

If this is fairly easy, here are ways you can up the intensity:

core engagement for running

  • In your plank, take one leg off the ground.
  • Or take one arm off the ground.

core engagement for running

  • If still controlled, try taking one leg AND the opposite arm off the ground for the duration of the hold.

You’ll repeat for the same amount of time, for the same amount of rounds.

You want to find a version that challenges your core’s max amount of engagement for the entire 30 seconds.

For best results: complete this plank workout twice per week!

Core Engagement For Running: How To Take Control

core engagement for running

Now that you know what your max core engagement for running feels like, you can feather out from it in your running.

Dialing back the engagement to meet your needs is a lot easier than trying to dig up core strength that you don’t have in the first place.

If you’re running a 200 meter sprint, your body should be in high gear, max tension.

If you’re running a flat 5 mile run, dial it back to something in the middle.

If you’re running up a long hill in the middle of your 7+ mile run, find a higher level of tension to support you up the hill, and then dial it back once you hit your downhill.

There should never be an instance when the core is completely turned off.

It’s your engine, so use it to the best of your abilities!

Engage Your Core (and Everything Else)

Core engagement is just one element of running. For sticking with us to the end and learning more about how to leverage your run, strength, and mobility training, check out our running training programs. It covers various running training programs, starting from beginner running, injury prevention, marathon training, and a lot more…