Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ninety Seconds is a Long Long Time

Did anyone watch Run Run Revolution a few weeks ago?  It was a CBC documentary about a bunch of high school kids in Ottawa who were chosen to be part of a fitness program.  They worked with a coach to prepare to run a relay as well as the 5k. They ran these races in Boston this year during marathon weekend.  Pretty neat story and amazing to watch how far the kids were able to push themselves.

One of the things that they had to be able to do by the end of their training was to hold a plank for 90 seconds.  It was hilarious to watch their first few tries.  Wobbly-armed, they would collapse in a heap after about 10 seconds, flatly refusing to get up again.  They slowly made it to twenty seconds, thirty seconds and, by the end, a 90 second plank was no big deal.

Now, runners are notorious for having weak upper bodies.  It's understandable.  We put in hours of exercise a week but all of it is focused on our lower bodies.  After all that, who has time to lift weights, do push ups or whatever else we're supposed to do to strengthen the arms, shoulders and back?

Watch us.  We have strong, muscular legs and spindly little arms.  It's kinda funny actually.

Well, I decided that I could certainly fit a 90 second plank into my post-run stretching routine.  I figured it would help build my core up a little bit, strenghten my shoulders and, well, just make me feel a little less guilty about neglecting those parts.

And, I figured that, if a bunch of high school kids could hold a plank for 90 seconds, well then so could I.

I set my Garmin face up below me, got into position and hit start on the timer.  I closed my eyes and concentrated on my breathing.  In. Out. In. Out.  This is soooooo easy. 

Open eyes. Fifteen seconds!?!  You have got to be kidding.

By thirty seconds I was shaking.

By 45 seconds there was sweat running dripping off the tip of my nose and by 60 seconds, I was no longer breathing as much as gasping.

I managed to hold on for the entire time.  I did not lower myself gracefully to the mat.  I collapsed with an audible sigh of relief.  Holy bananas!  That's HARD!

I have since done three of these 90 second planks.  I'm still shaking by thirty seconds and sweating profusely by 45. I have yet to lower myself gracefully to the floor.

I have a lot of respect for those kids.  They almost looked bored holding their planks for so long by the end.  I just look like I'm trying not to die.

I'm sure it will get better. 

But man oh man, 90 seconds feels like forever.


  1. I've never heard of Run Run Revolution before reading your post. I just watched a preview for it and I know I would love it! Do you know if it will be on again?

    You're so funny... I love the descriptions you give when you write. A 90 second plank ... yikes!! That would be hard!! Way to go for testing yourself :) Now you've got me wondering.... lol

  2. Cindy was telling our yoga group that the "yoga for runners" program that she recently completed was all about the importance of runners developing a strong core.

    And two of the most important poses?

    Downward dog and ... PLANK!

    Hmmmmm. You've just inspired me as I sit at my desk with my gut popping out! lol Better do some planks!

  3. I'm totally going to watch that over the next few days! the problem with not having TV is that I never know what's on! sounds like a neat documentary.
    as for planks... BRUTAL. I know what you're talking about! My yoga instructor used to make us hold them for nearly 2 whole minutes while shifting raising each leg back and forth.
    I really want to try now, it's been awhile. Good for you for holding it!

  4. next switch to a side-plank, top arm extended straight up, top leg lift up and keep it straight. I did some P90x while training for a spring 2010 1/2 marathon and it focused alot on core strength. Beat my previous best time by about 10 min. That was the 20 valley 1/2 with all the monster hills up the escarpment too. So does it help? You betcha! Now how do ya fit that into an already packed schedule...?

  5. I'm not familiar with that show, but it does sound good. I did test myself not too long ago to see how long I could hold a plank position. I'm sure I didn't look bored either. It looks easier than it feels. I'm notorious for neglecting strength training if I don't have some specific plan for it. I didn't come up with a plan this month, and guess what, almost all my exercise has been running. Oops.