Running and the benefits of Pilates - from a novice runner's viewpoint

So, some of you may know this already, but I’ve never been a natural ‘runner’. My hip issues of late have also provided me reason (read excuse) enough to not do it. A lot of people find their happy place/ zen when they run - but that’s never been the case for me. Pilates has. I can focus entirely on what I’m doing when I practice Pilates and the noise of the outside world and all the stresses and strains that go along with it fade away.

Having said all of this, recently I signed up (with a bunch of friends) to do a 10k mud run for Cancer Research UK (Pretty Muddy 10k held in Bedford on the 22nd June 2019).

Why?! So many reasons, but mainly because it’s a great cause; Cancer is an evil illness which has no prejudice whatsoever with who it attacks, I don’t know anyone at all that hasn’t been touched by it in some way or another, and we need as much research in to beating it as possible! That, and I feel like it’s good to push yourself out of your comfort zone to challenge and motivate you - and this, because it’s not a naturally ‘fun’ thing for me to do, does just that.

New trainers helped with the motivation too… but now they’re not so pretty and white!

New trainers helped with the motivation too… but now they’re not so pretty and white!

Once I’d signed up, I figured I’d probably best get on with some training if I wanted to make it around the course. So I have been running. Well, jogging, about 3 times a week recently, and slowly notching up the kms (very, very slowly). Sometimes with friends - which has been great - I’ve even caught up with a really old friend who I hadn’t seen in forever and catch up about life as we ran. It’s amazing how having a natter can take your mind off the actual task at hand! Sometimes running alone (hello podcasts and running music), and very occasionally running with my husband (hey - someone has to look after the kids right?!).

Other than the reasons outlined above for actually starting the running this time around, there are a couple of things that have kept me going to date:

  1. A shower at the end of my run - Yay for long hot showers!

  2. Pilates

Pilates has been amazing for a number of reasons:

  • Before my run:

    • Setting my body up for the run, it’s helpful to warm up the muscles and switch on the core ready to go

  • During my run:

    • Pilates breathing has helped regulate and calm my breathing and in turn steady my pace and allow me to run further than I think I’d otherwise be able to.

    • Core engagement as I’m running ensures I’m being as economical as possible with the movements of my arms and legs, and again means I can achieve more than I’d be able to without it (don’t get me wrong - I’m not marathon ready… or even 10k ready yet - but every run is a step further!)

    • Postural awareness means a reduction of tension in the neck and has allowed my running style to be more relaxed overall

  • After my run:

    • A combination of stretch, strength and relaxation during my post-run Pilates practice allows me to remobilise my body and has reduced aches and pains and potential stiffness that comes alongside running, bringing my breathing and heart rate back to a steady pace, and calming my mind in the process

Pilates Saw: works in to the hamstrings as well as the spine and core

Pilates Saw: works in to the hamstrings as well as the spine and core

Exercises don’t have to be complicated: I tend to mix it up with some back and hamstring stretch and strength variations, a little core work and a few plank/ press up variations to liven it up a bit and then I’m ready to get on with the rest of the day, and feeling full of energy!