Yes, I love Pilates. However, I also really love to run.
I belong to an awesome female running group here in Northern Virginia, Moms Run This Town (MRTT), and it has been my savior. Not only do I always have someone willing to run with me in the crazy early morning hours, but I have the accountability of a group to keep me motivated (You know I love an accountability partner. I often hear from other runners about their various aches and pains, and it is not lost on me how fortunate I am to not be plagued by the chronic pain that is common in our sport.
I have a secret weapon, and it is Pilates.
At this stage in my life, I am running for longevity, and I know that Pilates has helped to keep me relatively pain and injury-free. I would venture to say I am in the best running shape of my life, and I think that has more to do with my Pilates practice than the number of miles I am logging. Let me tell you why you too should be doing Pilates too…
Pilates builds balanced muscle development: Running is a fantastic workout. However, running does tend to lead to over-developed quadriceps and also neglects our glutes, inner thighs, and core. Pilates is able to address all of those because it truly is a full-body workout. Pilates is low impact so it won’t be putting greater strain on your joints. With more balanced muscle development, you will be able to overcome current pain, avoid injury, and run with more efficiency and greater performance.
Pilates Improves Running Posture: Pilates builds functional core strength better than any other exercise system. The key to good running posture is a solid core to hold you up even when you are fatigued. Before I found Pilates (as a much younger woman) I used to get horrible pain between my shoulder blades or in my low back when I would run. Looking back, I know it was because as I would fatigue, I would start to hunch and that would put unnecessary strain on my upper and lower back as my spine was pulled out of alignment. Once I discovered Pilates, this was no longer an issue because my abdominals had the strength and endurance to carry me through my runs with stable posture.
Improved Balance and Stability: Core strength also plays a huge role in keeping us upright, balanced, and stable when we run. I remember running on a trail, tripping, and losing my footing. The only thing that kept me from a face full of rocks was my strong core. I was able to right myself in time to keep from any serious harm. We also do a lot of load transfer exercises in Pilates which are essential for improving balance. Additionally, as we age, it is so important to continue to improve our balance and stability, not just for running, but for life.
Greater breath capacity and control: Pilates teaches you how to breathe effectively and efficiently while maintaining a strong core. The techniques you learn in Pilates will help you bring awareness to your breath and an ability to assist you during your long runs. When I start to fatigue on a run, and I just want to stop, I go to my breath. In through the nose and out through the mouth. Not only does this do wonders by way of distracting me from the never-ending hill I am climbing, but it helps my heart send oxygen through my body, which helps me to power through.
Increase strength and flexibility: The cardiovascular endurance gained through running is great for our overall health, but runners often neglect their strength and resistance training, which are also essential to our health and fitness. Pilates is a form of resistance exercise (either with body weight, gravity, or springs on the equipment); however, Pilates is unique because it also improves flexibility and mobility at the same time.
If you are a runner I can’t emphasize enough the impact Pilates can have on your performance, stamina, and overall wellbeing on and off the road/trail.
Check out my Pilates for Runners Mat Class for a full-body workout specifically designed for runners and our unique needs. My Foam Rolling and Stretching Tutorials are also great for runners or anyone looking to add a little release and mobility work into their routines.