How Pilates helps runners

I’d never considered myself a “runner.” I could do step aerobics until I was the last person standing, and cardio kickbox my way through an afternoon. But ask me to run down the block and I would’ve said, “can I do walking lunges instead?” I thought for sure I was doomed to be the appetizer course when the zombie apocalypse hit.

But I was wrong.

I did my first race in January of 2011 and was hooked. I got rid of my gym membership and subsequently fell into the all-running, no cross-training trap. And this would be my undoing. Using Pilates as part of anyone’s cross-training is extremely valuable. It reduces the chance of injury, stretches muscles, and strengthens the core. I know, I know, you’ve heard this before, like it’s on repeat, but it’s repeated so much, because it works.

Alisa runningRunning doesn’t come “easy” and I’m by no means fast. But I was asked to join a team for a 200-mile relay race. During my training, my iliacus and psoas started getting sore and tightening up mid-run, after sitting for long periods, etc. The “TFL Stretch” on the CoreAlign helped loosen it, but didn’t alleviate the pain. I was afraid I’d have to pull out of the race, letting down my team, which was already down a person.

I knew I should try some Pilates moves. Regular work on the Pilates Arc strengthened my hip, and stretched out my back, while side-lying moves on the Reformer, and work with the jumpboard, got my alignment better and improved my gait.

Another benefit of regular Pilates with running isn’t quite as obvious. Distance running can be boring. Yes, I’m going to come right out and say it: It’s boring. That’s why so many people listen to music. However, it can be dangerous to wear headphones while on busy roads or city streets. Pilates helps you really connect to what’s going on in your body. I think about my breath, the way my feet land on the pavement, how I’m carrying my shoulders, how my hips are moving, my neck, and my forward bend. I can match my breath to my cadence, or vice versa, and get a more efficient stride. Basically, Pilates can enhance everything you learned in that workshop about your running form.

For runners, Pilates should be an important part of your workout or training routine. It’s easy to integrate some mat moves into your post-workout stretching or cool down after each run. You also don’t have to stagger your practice. Pilates can be done on the same day(s) you run, consecutive days, or on your off days!