Pilates and running is truly a dream combination of training, that is why i’m so excited to share the new Pilates for Runners programme with our online members. Before my Pilates journey, running was my main sport I completed in athletics 800m and ticked off a yearly half marathon. Since my Pilates training I am so passionate about sharing the benefits of adding Pilates to your running plan. Pilates does not just help with injury prevention but also your ability to run more efficiently, therefore faster and overall performance will improve.
The Benefits of Pilates for Runners
Running, especially outdoors is a great activity both physically and mentally, especially to your cardiovascular and heart health. However like anything, variety is key to avoid injury and overuse. Pilates builds long, strong muscles, improves flexibility and lessens risk of injury. Pilates can help runners stay stronger, and run longer! Some of the main areas we focus on are:
Posture, core strength, injury prevention, leg alignment, glute connection, recovery, flexibility, breathing.
The way that Pilates strengthens the core muscles, stabilises your hips and opens up the vertebrae in the lower back to prevent back injuries ( from constant impact involved in running) makes it a dream combo in terms of not just injury prevention but also performance.
Hip instability is a leading cause of running-related injuries, since weak hips can cause IT band syndrome, runner’s knee, and piriformis syndrome. If we incorporate strength for the muscles that are not working during your runs. I will say it again: Pilates does not just help with injury prevention but also you will be able to run more efficiently therefore faster and performance will improve (can you tell im passionate about this!)
Why Pilates and Running Compliment Each Other
Pilates and Running are the perfect opposites in terms of training to help create a well rounded training regime.
Runners often only move in one direction or one plane of movement, therefore often not getting access to the full range of motion their body needs. If you only move in the same way some muscles become strong and tight from overuse like quads and calves and other muscles like the glutes and hamstrings become very weak and no longer fire properly or allow you to engage them when needed, this muscles then become reliant on other muscles, over time if ignored this can lead to injury and poor movement patterns.
Pilates helps with muscular imbalances and our Pilates for runners focuses on lengthening the overworked and tight muscles and specifically strengthening those muscles like the gluts that will help you perform better.
Pilates is a great way to strengthen and work your muscles without increasing your running kms. You can substitute a run for a Pilates workout or reduce the distance you are running and improve performance by improving strength and movement patterns rather than just pounding the pavement.
Pilates is performed much slower than running, which can allow you to really build a connection and targeted work to the muscles, therefore reducing muscle imbalance but also teaching you how to engage and work these muscles while running to help you run faster and more efficiently.
Another area where many runners aren’t as strong as they should be is, core strength! Pilates has a huge emphasis on core strength, Pilates core strength is all about the trunk of the body, the back, and the “deep core” muscles, as well as the hip flexors, IT bands, and hamstrings, all areas that are often implicated in running-related overuse and imbalance injuries.
How to Best Schedule Pilates in / How the Pilates for Runners Works
You will probably be deliberate about when you are running based on your schedule or if you are training for an event or race these runs will be planned out very carefully. Plan your Pilates around your running schedule.
The online Pilates for runners programme is designed to fit around your schedule by doing Pilates either on the days you are not running or before or after a less intense run. You may need to only do 1-2 sessions per week if you are following an intense running plan or if you are not running as often you can follow the ideal calendar.
Stretch sessions and the warm ups are designed to do on the days you are running. Most sessions are 20 minutes long or shorter designed to fit into those recovery days or after the less intense runs in your weekly schedule.
Just like any strength training or adding in something new, it may take a while to adjust and you will feel these new muscles working so don’t plan a tough Pilates session the same day or day before your longest run.
You will discover a few workouts that you love, add these to your list and you can use the Pilates for runners as a place to find the best workouts for running. You can decide to add the workouts whenever it suits you, rather than following the calendar.
Pilates Principles to Focus on While Running
Another major benefit of doing Pilates alongside you runs, is you can take what you learn from the Pilates sessions and apply these principles to your running technique.
Run tall/ Posture – dont hunch, think about your posture by engaging the core muscles and upper back muscles to help you run taller. Focus on head, neck and ribcage alignment also. As Pilates improves your posture with regular practice, you’ll notice that you run taller and with better form—and therefore will be likely to run faster and farther as well.
Relax shoulders – are you tight through your neck and shoulders this uses more energy and is not the most functional position for your shoulders, you will build strength to engage the upper back muscles and be reminded in the classes to keep your “ shoulders away from your ears”
Breathing – Pilates reminds you to take full deep breaths, check in while you are running can you control your breathing and focus on full deep breaths
Hip Stability – Glutes: a powerhouse of muscles that many runners do not recruit at all while running, many struggle to engage the glutes and you may have been told you have “ lazy” glutes, these muscles help keep your leg in ideal alignment to avoid injury and also affect your performance you need these muscles to help power you forward and up hills. Pilates will not only help you find and engage your glutes but by strengthening them your performance will improve
Alignment – we focus a lot on alignment in the classes so you will have a better understanding of keeping your knee and ankles aligned. You may feel these small adjustments mean you can feel the muscles like the glutes working more to support your knee and hip stability leading to less injury and recovery needed.
See programme and workouts here the best news is incorporating an online plan means you can fit these sessions around your current running plan and at $19.99 NZD + gst ( cancel anytime) it is an affordable option with clear instruction and lots of variation.