When we think about getting faster, and staying injury free, we tend to focus on our leg- and foot-work. But to a large extent, your speed—and your predisposition to injury—has a lot to do with the strength of your core. Increasingly, research has shown that most common running woes—from shin splints to runner's knee and iliotibial-band syndrome—are the result of poor strength and control of the glute, abdominal, and hip muscles that constitute the core.
That's why it's important to engage the core any time you do any strength-training move. "Applying weight to your body will challenge your core further," says Jim White, a Virginia Beach-based nutrition expert and certified personal trainer.