Running & Fitness

Focus on the Core Physically and Mentally

Matt Orlando
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As each new year rolls around, we all reflect on our successes and failures of the past year, and look towards the new year with hope and anticipation. We set goals. We resolve to make changes in our lives. We believe that this new year will be our year to achieve great things. The next twelve months hold a story yet to be written. How we look back on our next year, however, all depends on how we begin the journey and the foundation on which we build our path.

In this new year I have resolved to focus on the core. I have big goals, big dreams, and I have come to realize that without a solid foundation I will simply fail time and time again to achieve my ultimate successses. So what do I mean by focus on the core? Well, it is different for everyone and different for every situation. For me, for this year, focusing on the core boils down to three “core” ideas:

Focus On: The Physical Core

As someone who has long been a runner, I have done a tremendous job of ignoring my physical core. It is almost as though I actively avoid doing core work. However, over the past few months, as my training has become more intense and I focus more on my goals, I have really felt the absence of core work on my runs. Any professional runner will tell you that your power is driven from your core. No matter how many speed work sessions I do or miles you put in, without a strong core you will never achieve the levels of success on which I have my eyes set.

To remedy this is simple: I have to do core work, consistently. I have a vast trove of resources available to me, with core workouts from professional runners such as Nick Willis (NZ) and Nick Symmonds (US) as well as a library full of workouts from a particular fitness company which does on-demand training. It is simply a matter of putting a plan on paper and following it to a “T”. I know that if I do this, my running form and power will improve and I will come that much closer to achieving my ultimate running goals.

Focus On: The Spiritual Core

As many of you know, I am a Christian. My faith and beliefs are based on the Bible. But I will admit, I am woefully unread when it comes to the core text of my beliefs. Yes, I know my way around the Bible, and I know key passages, but I tell myself year in and year out that I need to become more familiar with all of the Bible’s teachings, not just the Reader’s Digest version.

Each year my church does a Bible reading challenge, where they provide a day by day road map to help you read through the entire Bible in a year. Each year I start out with the best intentions, and each year within a few weeks life gets in the way and I simply give up. I have come to realize, though, that without a strong foundation in the Word, it is hard to combat and work through the things which challenge us all on a daily basis. And so it is with this understanding that I am working on making a much stronger commitment to work my way through the Bible and have a more intimate understanding of God’s word.

Lose Focus: Let Go of the Rest

I have a strong tendency to allow things with little to no real importance in my life to take over my focus and agitate my anxiety. I often work myself into a panicked frenzy over things that, in the grand scheme of things, really are not worth worrying over at all. That needs to stop. For my sanity, for my health, for my family’s sake, the madness has to stop. It is time to let go and let things unfold as they will. I need to realize that I cannot control everything and that in the end if I do not let go it will be my undoing.

So starting now and moving forward it is time to let go of the garbage and focus on the core. Here’s to crushing goals and reaching new heights in this new year!