Pilates is an excellent addition to a runners training program. In marathon training, due to the long mileage, most runners omit other types of exercise. Yes, running is what will get you across the finish line, but incorporating other cross training activities will help you get across the finish line safer and hopefully faster.
Pilates main focus is core training, which ultimately improves your posture. Remember you want to cross the finish line upright not humped over. Working the core (all the muscles in the stomach, back and pelvic regions) helps to stabilize your body for not only running, but all other activities in life. Most people think of Pilates and automatically think of the dreaded plank. I agree I am not a fan, but the strength you gain is amazing. Pilates is much like Yoga, yet also very different. Some of the positions are the same, but where in Yoga you hold the position, Pilates you tend to get in position and then move in it. For example the “100”. You basically get into a crunch position on your back and hold, and then move the arms up and down at your sides for 100 repetitions (video below). Both Pilates and Yoga are fabulous for runners.
Not only does Pilates do a fabulous job of strengthening the core, but it also involves lots of stretching, which many runners neglect. Most Pilates instructors will incorporate about 10-15 min of stretching throughout the hour. The stretching helps runners prevent injuries. Most instructors stretch all leg muscles including the IT band that most runners, especially woman, need most. Many runners in longer mileage suffer from IT band pain. By stretching these muscles in various ways runners can prevent many injuries.
To find a Pilates class that is best for you try different instructors. All instructors have different personalities and styles. Find one that fits your schedule and preferences. It is also helpful to find an instructor that also runs. Some classes use equipment and some do not. The class that I have chosen I love because each class is completely different. I love the variety. Each time I feel I have worked in a completely different way. Some of you may not feel comfortable trying a class and would feel better doing one at home on video. I know many of you have fears about how you will look in a class. Do not allow this to stop you. Trust me no one in the class (okay maybe one or two) look as good as those on the videos. Every class I have ever been to has a beginner. The instructors have always been great at welcoming and showing basic moves before showing the more advanced. Do not allow apprehensions get in the way of your feeling and looking better.
Runner’s World has a fabulous article with videos of basic Pilates moves for runners. Just click below.