As some of you know I am running my first Half Marathon in July! Let’s just say running and I haven’t always had the best relationship… I was the kid who faked sick the day we had to run the mile in gym class. I just never thought it was something that I could enjoy. Today I happily admit that I was wrong. I have been training for the last 9 weeks and now actually look forward to my runs. Wha?!? In my teaching career I have worked with a lot of runners so know how well Pilates and running go together from an outsiders perspective, but until now haven’t been able to feel these effects in my own body. And let me tell you something, cross training with Pilates is an absolute running game changer. All of you race junkies looking for your next PR should be incorporating Pilates into your training routine and here’s why…
Running is high impact and can wreak havoc on your joints if not done with proper form. A weak core can lend itself not only to injury, but can also cause muscular imbalances in the body which can inhibit performance and over time cause major wear and tear. Also, remember that the “CORE” includes your back and the muscles surrounding your hips which are very instrumental in healthy running.
Pilates is all about Form and Precision, which in fact is one of the main principles of the method. A regular Pilates practice will help you connect your mind to your movement, so you are always moving in the healthiest way possible and focused and aware on your form as you run. And just FYI… Proper running form consists of short quick strides (aim for 180 bpm or higher) and you should feel as if you are leaning forward from your ankles almost falling into each step, allowing gravity to propel you forward and thinking of pressing the road back with your hamstrings. This will help keep your hip knee and ankle joints aligned.
Breath is also one of the main Principles or Pilates. Learning to correlate breath to movement is key to maintaining strength and stamina throughout your run or any cardiovascular workout. This will also help to avoid the dreaded “side stich” which can totally ruin your run and is 100% connected to shallow breathing. Make sure that you taking full deep breaths in through your nose and out though your mouth, thinking of expanding the bottom of your lungs and breathing into your ribs.
Anti rotation is a big part of running and this comes from proper balance. You don’t want your arms crossing your body or your torso/pelvis to twist as you run. This leads to overexertion and inefficiency. Pilates helps you learn how to differentiate the movement of your limbs from your spine, so you can use your core to balance and stabilize while you mobilize your limbs. Pilates is also a great way to strengthen your ankles and feet so you can correct/avoid over pronation (arches collapsing and ankles rolling in) or supination (ankles rolling out). And remember, running is, after all, a “single leg workout” you are never doing the same thing with both of your legs or using them both to hold you up at any time, so it’s important to be able to stabilize and balance on one leg to ensure your best performance.
Try it out and see the difference it can make for yourself!! Then come tell me I was right. 😉