Did you know that your core, the center of your body, is very important to how well you run your own race? I didn’t know that either when I started running. I thought all I needed were strong legs and strong lungs and a “Never Quit” attitude. I figured armed with all of this there wasn’t any challenge I couldn’t overcome. Then I tried my first back to back race. It was a 10K (6.2 miles) on Saturday morning followed by a half marathon (13.1 miles) on Sunday morning. I crushed the 10K and felt really, really good. In fact my wife and I walked around Williamsburg VA that afternoon and ate a regular dinner and had a really good time. The first ten miles of the half marathon went pretty well but then somewhere before mile 11 the wheels fell off and I really began to suffer. I felt like I was running in quick sand and every step it felt like someone was poking hot needles into my thighs and glutes. My lungs were burning and I couldn’t even hold water down. I was hurting bad and really not enjoying myself like I thought I would. I finished simply because I’ve got that “Never Quit” thing down pat but felt awful afterwards. The next week I went on a Saturday run with a bunch of other runners and I was talking to them. It’s important to know that between Charlie and Les they had finished well over 100 marathons and stopped counting half marathons long before I joined the running club. As I described to these two awesome men what I had been feeling, Charlies stopped and asked “what kind of strength training are you doing?” I described the leg lifts I had done and the stretching and all the miles I had put in. And then Charlie hit me with the profound “that’s all well and good but strength in running comes from a strong core. If your core isn’t strong it doesn’t matter how strong your legs are or how many miles you run because your posture will always start to bend at the middle and you will slap the surface you are running on instead of stride through it.” After that planks and simple core exercises played a really important part of my running routine and the more I read the more I realized that a strong core means less injuries and more joyful running. Over the next year as I strengthened my core I finished two more of these back to back races and thoroughly enjoyed the last one a lot. Now I run back to back training runs every week with some of my runs being a 20-24 miler on Saturday followed by a 10-14 miler on Sunday. The thing that gets me through them is core strength though.
Imagine now the same thing in life and I’m not talking about adding planks and sit-ups to your daily routine. What I’m talking about is the core of your being, your soul. What strengthens your soul? Psalm 28:8 “The Lord is the strength of his people….” Philippians 4:12-13 “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Core strength to run your own race comes from acknowledging and accepting the strength of a Creator God through His Son Jesus Christ. Without this one thought at the core of who we are we will wander through life much like my first back to back race. We may be able to get through portions but when it really matters, when our own physical strength can’t cut it anymore then there better be something at the core of your being and I would strongly suggest it not be your strong will because that can only get you so far. If your core strength comes from the acknowledgment of a greater God living in you then you can pretty much expect that you will be able to face any and all back to backs and thoroughly enjoy them as well.
Living an ultra life means you build core strength into your normal routines.