This 30-Minute Core Routine For Runners Is My New Go-To Session

Woman performing the plank exercise at home
(Image credit: Carol Yepes / Getty Images)

If runners should copy anyone’s training, they would be wise to see what they can learn from Kenyan long-distance runners. A couple of months ago I wrote about following, or at least trying to follow, a core workout used by Kenyan elites.

I was introduced to that video by YouTuber Ben Felton, better known as Ben Is Running, who talked about doing a similar session when he visited Kenya. It’s a very good core workout for runners, but really difficult, quite long and hard to follow at times, since it’s just filmed on a camera in the corner of the room.

So, I was delighted when Felton posted his own core workout on his channel, inspired by that session in Kenya. It’s a 30-minute session that’s easier than the Kenyan workout, but still pretty testing and sure to increase your strength and endurance in a way that will support your running.

The video is just Felton in his kitchen, with a timer on the screen, so it’s a lot easier to follow the moves and know how long you have left. The no-repeat session runs through 24 exercises. Each exercise is performed for a minute, followed by a 15 second rest.

The routine begins with planks (including side planks and a reverse plank), moves on to crunches and Russian twists, bridges, leg raises, clamshells and side-lying leg raises among many other testing holds and movements.

As with the original Kenyan workout video, the fact you’re doing each move for a long period of time is great for runners, since it helps to build endurance. There are a lot of unilateral exercises too, where you work one side of the body at a time. This approach should help you maintain good running form even as you get tired.

Despite being easier than the Kenyan workout it’s still hard work and I failed to get through the minute on several occasions, especially with the rower crunches which you do three sets of in a row—first on both legs, then each leg individually—which really gets the abs burning.

Felton is an engaging host too, and makes it clear he’s not an expert in the area, but simply passing on an effective session he uses himself. He is a 2hr 24min marathoner, which explains the speed at which he’s able to get to his front door to receive a package during one set and still get back before the 60-second timer is up.

Fitting in this type of strength work is something I always find difficult to do, so having access to a quick session that’s easy to follow is very handy. I’m not going to say I’ll definitely manage to do it every week myself, but if you can, it will undoubtedly help your running.

Nick Harris-Fry
Senior writer

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.