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McMillan Runner’s Core Routine DVDs – Run Training Tool

Most of you probably know of coach Greg McMillan because of his useful running calculator and possibly his coaching program.

Greg has also created a set of three core workout DVDs specifically created for us – the runner. As trail and ultra runners, a strong trunk seems hugely beneficial to support you, the runner, especially as the miles begin to increase.

I have had the McMillan Runner’s Core Routine series for a few months now and thought I would share my thoughts so far on them.

The Specs

Each DVD in the series builds on top of the previous one. The first DVD, Stage One, contains the foundation set of core exercises that the other DVDs (Stage 2 and Stage 3) build upon. Simple enough.

Each DVD contains the following:

  • Core Exercise demonstration – The how-to for those unfamiliar with a core exercise.
  • Three Follow-Along Workouts – Each workout (defined as Level 1, 2, or 3) progresses in difficulty by increasing time, number of reps, exercise modification, or additional new exercises.

Follow-Along Workouts – Length and Exercise Examples

To get an idea of the amount of core work fun available in each DVD, I provided some estimate workout times for the shortest, level 1, and the longest, level 3. I also listed a couple of the exercises  to get an idea of what you will be doing.

Stage One DVD

  • Level 1 – ~12 minutes
  • Level 3 – ~26 minutes
  • Exercise examples – Plank and Metronome

Stage Two DVD

  • Level 1 – ~15 minutes
  • Level 3 – ~25 minutes
  • Exercise examples – Plank w/leg lifts and Scissor kicks

Stage Three DVD

  • Level 1 – ~17 minutes
  • Level 3 – ~30 minutes
  • Exercise examples – Rolling Plank and Donkey kicks

Yellow school bus not required for these exercises. 😉

Additional Equipment

To do all the exercises in each workout, stage One DVD requires an Exercise Ball (for balance exercise). Stage Two and Three require an Exercise Ball (back extensions and cross crunches) and Medicine Ball (or weight of some sort – I just used a free weight I had at home – for cross crunch and good morning exercises).

How often?

Greg recommends incorporating a follow-along workout 2-3 times per week.

Test Drive and Thoughts

The flow

It doesn’t take long to notice the general vibe of the work – relaxed and focused. This isn’t a high energy, turn you into a puddle workout program. This doesn’t mean it is easy, you just won’t see Greg jumping around screaming at you to do “just one more!” and your heart will remain in your chest.

Prior to each exercise, key form tips are displayed on the screen. Then Greg verbally guides you through the exercise as another athlete performs it.

A running rep count or time countdown (depending on the exercise) is displayed on the screen and mentioned by Greg. I liked that I could just listen and focus on the exercise and not watch the TV continuously. Nice detail. I also really liked hearing the five seconds left countdown for timed exercises like the Plank. Those words were music to my ears.

Tunage and Production

The background music throughout is – just OK. Voiceless Vanilla.

The overall production isn’t super glossy but it gets the job done. The overall feel seems a bit more refined in the Stage Two & Three DVDs.

The fun

The core set of exercises weren’t new to me, but the modifications throughout the program added significant new challenges to a familiar exercise.   I especially liked that the entire workout set felt like a balanced approach. It felt like I was getting worked from various sides, angles, and upper body / lower body.

The metronome is currently my most grit-your-teeth exercise. That exercise has me working from the start. Damn long legs!

I like that each DVD contains three levels of increased challenge. You can develop confidence and exercise proficiency and continue to challenge yourself at higher levels.

The length

The initial Stage One / level 1 program, at 12 minutes in length felt over before it started but may be a great entry for those new to core work. Fortunately, there are two more levels on the same DVD that up the challenge.

Some days when available time is limited, I like that all the core workouts finish within 30 minutes. If one wants to get a little ultra core crazy, I could see doing a level twice or doing a progressive super-set (level 2 + level 3). There are a variety of combinations you could do with this if desired.


The Stage 1 DVD costs the same as the Stage 2 /3 set. Something must have gotten less expensive in production after the first go around. If I already had a fair amount of core work experience, I may be able to go right into Stage 2. If I was fairly new to endurance sports and core work, starting off with Stage 1 would be my likely choice.

You must take an honest assessment of where you are at.

Who Would Most Likey

The McMillan Runner’s Core Routine DVD series could provide the most value for runners of all abilities that are looking for guided, chillin’, time-sensitive, running specific core workouts.

If you’re looking for a high-energy, intense, core/cardio workout, this is not what you are looking for.

I personally enjoy the workout set and look forward to giving it a solid six month trial and will let you know how it goes.

You can purchase one or both of the DVDs at Running Warehouse (Shoes, Packs, Clothes, Lights, and more…plus 2-day free shipping!).

Here are Exercise Balls if you need one.

Be active – Feel the buzz!

David –

[The DVD series was provided by McMillan Running but the review is purely my own. This article contains affiliate links that provide a small commission to us (at no cost to you) if you would purchase.]

About the author

David Hanenburg David Hanenburg is the passionate dirt-lovin' creator of Endurance Buzz and has been playing in the endurance sports world since 2000 after knockin' the dust off of his Trek 950 hardtail thanks to a friend asking to go ride some local dirt. In 2007 he ran his first ultra on the trails and fell in love with the sport and its people. For more information on David's endurance sports journey, check out the About page.

3 Responses to “McMillan Runner’s Core Routine DVDs – Run Training Tool”

  1. on 04 Sep 2010 at 11:01 am Gregory Luffey

    I just started doing some of those exercises to help my back. The DVD should help, but I really want to know where to get the yellow school bus. -Greg

  2. on 06 Sep 2010 at 3:07 pm David Hanenburg

    Greg – I will forward your school bus request to my son, Griffin. Maybe he can hook you up. 😉

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