One of our Blue Line Beginners is doing the "30-day Plank Challenge" as a way to build her core (basically all the muscles of the torso) to help her with running greater distances - and she's inviting others to join her.

If you are on our Akron Marathon Blue Line Beginners Facebook page, send a message to Elizabeth Moira and she will add you to the FB group she started so participants can motivate each other for the next month. But even if you aren't on Facebook, just follow the challenge on the graphic I've posted here.

Planking is considered an "essential" strength training exercise for all fitness activities. You can see from the graphic exactly how a classic planking pose looks. You may remember the Akron Marathon's Laura McElrath included planking on a list of routines she suggested for us:

Easy, right? Not for me! I've really slacked when it comes to building upper body strength, and that was painfully obvious when I found I could barely lift my torso off the ground.

Fortunately, I found another planking pose I can use till I get stronger. It's called the "Superman plank" because you're basically laying on the floor in the position that Superman flies through the air. It's still a good challenge for me, so I've joined Elizabeth's group. Now I just need a cape.

Here's a video on the classic plank:

Here's a video on the Superman plank:

I read a few articles on planking and its importance to running, but while it strengthens your back,  many of them warned against doing this if you have existing back issues. So please keep that in mind.

- Paula