I recently took part in the Bar Ellison 10k run at Wimpole farm. It was a tough run with unrelenting ground that was uneven and very hilly. It was definitely one of the hardest runs I have done to date. I brought it in just under the hour, which was my target, 0:59:19. I do not claim to be a fast runner but thanks to Pilates I am a strong one.
It's well known that Pilates is good for running. I teach many runners who all claim that my classes have helped their running no end, But why is this!?
Develops a Strong Core
In running our core is a major part of the engine. It keeps us upright and strong thus helping to reduce injury and it aids with our running technique. A strong core will help to power you along. As the miles clock by and you begin to tire it will help to keep your body even and upright, helping you to maintain your technique for longer.
Develops a Strong Back
As well as a toned strong abdomen Pilates creates a strong back. This helps to prevent injury from running on the road which can have a jarring effect. It also helps to prevent slouching as you run, keeping the shoulders back and chest open for optimum lung efficiency. Pilates not only makes us aware of our posture but helps to correct postural problems. Running with a more even stride and footfall. I very rarely have the odd trip and miss placed foot nowadays, I believe this is due to a stronger posture through Pilates. I often used to stumble towards the end of a run especially if it was cross country or I was feeling tired.
Develops a Strong Pelvis
A whopping 85% of runners have tight hip flexors, I used to be the same. Causing me to have sore hips when I ran more than 5-8k. I remember running my longest 16k run once and felt amazing after apart from my hips! which felt like they had rubbed raw. Pilates has reversed this for me as it strengthens your hip flexors and extensors and helps to develop flexibility. A lot of attention also goes into having a correct pelvic alignment in Pilates, making sure we work in a neutral pelvis and spine. This transfers into running helping to maintain a strong balanced frame.
Breathing is very important in Pilates, we use Lateral Thoracic Breathing. Breathing deep into the rib cage allowing us to maintain core engagement. We use the breath to deepen and control moves, breathing in to prepare and out to execute. Many people struggle with breathing when running and find it hard to relax into a breathing pattern. This can be a large contribution to stitches. Pilates can aid runners with this issue.
I am a firm believer that Pilates has helped to develop me as a runner and feel that the two go nicely hand in hand. The only adverse effect I have in the marriage between the two, is that if I get the balance wrong and run more then I practice Pilates I find that my hamstrings feel a little tight and shortened. Apart from that Pilates and running, for me are the perfect couple!