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Fitness (His Edition) Editor Pedro van Gaalen

5 things I learnt in 2016

After a pretty up and down 2015 in terms of running, I was determined to make 2016 a better year

Following a change in my approach to training, which included a more diverse repertoire of exercises and workouts, I managed to have my best year yet. This included PBs in every distance, from 5km right up to 90km. More importantly, though, I did it without having to take any time off with injury, which I believe to be the biggest factor in my ability to achieve all the goals I had set myself. With that, here are the 5 lessons I learnt last year, which I hope can help you have your best year yet in 2017.

1. A strong core is the foundation of efficient movement

When most people mention the core muscles, they tend to only refer to their abs. However, your core consists of your glutes, lower back muscles and the main stabilisers in your midsection. Your core is what helps to keep you upright during running (or any sport for that matter) and when it is weak and dysfunctional, other muscles like your hip flexors are called on to pick up the slack. This means they have to do a job they were never designed for, in addition to their primary role, and that’s when you start to introduce compensatory movement patterns that lead to poor form and, eventually, injury.

By doing 5-10 minutes of core work – mainly glute and ab stabilisation work – every second day, I improved my running technique and movement efficiency. What’s more is that I’m also seldom ever sore in muscles where I shouldn’t be. Before adopting this approach, I would constantly have pain in the front of my hips and on the inside of my legs as my hip flexors and adductors were doing more work than they should. Now, with the ability to carry my bodyweight efficiently, my muscles now work in unison, doing the jobs they were designed for, which has resulted in faster times across the board and, most importantly, no injuries!

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