Last week, I participated in a local half marathon. It was a great race. The weather was perfect, and the run was cool and comfortable.

Actually, it was one of the best races for me, breaking my personal record by over 5 minutes! This is no small achievement for me.

I owe this accomplishment to 2 pieces of training that have really helped improve my swimming and running speeds:

Do planks and work on your core strength to improve your speed1- Doing more core exercises: Most of the important muscle groups that are responsible for motion, agility and speed are located in the core and hip flexor region of the body. So it’s simple… work on your core = improve your speed.

2- Planks! I started with the planks as a 30 day challenge, where I would increased the duration of the plank day by day, over a 30-day period of time.  At the end of the challenge, I was able to hold the plank for 5 minutes. And now, even though the 30-day challenge is long over, I still do planks every day for at least 5 minutes.

With these two additions to my training, I have noticed great improvement in my core strength, my running speed and my swimming times. Below are my results for last week’s race. My fastest time before was 1:42:45 for a half marathon, and as you see now, it’s 01:37:39 (The Age Place category is not a very good indicator as the age ranges were 10 years wide. My age group was actually quite competitive).

Bib

Name

City

5.5 Mile

Gun Elapsed Time

Chip Elapsed Time

Pace

Division

Div Place

Gender

Gender Place

Age

Age Place

834

VINCE GRIMALDI

SANTA CRUZ

00:40:37

01:37:57

01:37:39

07:27

Half Marathon

103

M

84

47

21

There are no short cuts in training, but I do feel that these two exercises are key components that I had left out. Ever since I started paying more attention to them, I noticed significant changes in my strength and fitness; I even dropped a few pounds! And after only a couple of weeks, I started breaking my personal records (full marathon by 7 minutes, and half marathon by 5).

I am definitely sticking with both of these exercises, and I am really excited to see how my future races will turn out. My upcoming swimming race is in June; it’s a swim from Alcatraz island! Should be a great one… Can’t wait!

 
Image Source: mensfitness.co.uk
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