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