Pilates and Running

A guest post by Sally of Forward From The Heart

When you think of running you don’t automatically think of Pilates.  On the other side of that, when you think of someone that practices Pilates, a runner isn’t the first person you think of, right?

But the truth is, Pilates can help with running in so many ways that they really should go hand-in-hand.

Joint mobility, improved flexibility, body awareness and, of course, a strong core are just a few of the benefits of Pilates that can help with running.  I know that some runners avoid yoga because they don’t want to “over-stretch their muscles”.  Pilates will most definitely not do that.  Yes, there is some stretching/flexibility work in the exercises, but you adjust them for your body and stretches are never held longer than a few seconds, especially if your instructor is aware of your goals for the class.

I’ve been running since high school.  I’m not built for long distances or the speediest of speeds, but I have always been okay with 3-4 miles.  I started doing Pilates when I was 27 years old, so I had already been a “runner” for years before seriously beginning my Pilates practice.  I was fast enough to PR at races, conditioned enough to do whatever 5K a friend wanted me to join in, so I was happy.

But I also never dreamed that I would do a 10K or finish in the top 5 in my age group.

Little did I know that I could improve my speed and endurance with Pilates.

1.  Endurance

I can run farther than ever before.  I used to max out at 3-4 miles.  Now that I do Pilates I’ve noticed that I can run longer.  I completed my first 10K (6.4 miles) last spring with ease.  I can head out and run 4 miles whenever I please.  A strong core helps me to carry myself better and run more efficiently.

2.  Speed

I do interval training on the treadmill at least once a week.  My sprint pace before I started doing Pilates was around an 8-minute mile pace.  Now I sprint a 6.5-minute mile pace.  That is a HUGE improvement, especially in a sport where each second counts.  Flexible, lean muscles run faster than bulky ones so this is how Pilates helps with speed.  Last fall I finished the North Face 5K in Kansas City 4th in my age group, neck-and-neck with the 3rd place female!

3.  Recovery

Even those that run 2-3 miles know that the day following a long run you can often feel fatigued, sore, tight and kind of like you have been beat up from head to toe.  Now that I have added Pilates to my workout I rarely feel that way, even after a 7+ mile run.  My muscles are in better condition thanks to the Pilates work, and after a run I typically do a little mat work the next day to keep my muscles moving and stretching.

Many of the runners that attend my Pilates classes started out skeptical but keep coming back, week after week, year after year, because it has worked for them as well.

Whether you start with a mat class or Reformer class, give yourself 10-20 classes to really feel and see a difference.  Pilates will train your body and your mind to help your reach beyond your current goals and feel stronger than you ever have.

About Sally:

Pilates and fitness is my passion. I am a wife, mommy, manager and trainer. I love to workout and teach fitness classes–Pilates, Yoga, Cycle and running are just a few of my favorites. I love to cook and bake healthy food for myself and my family.

Be sure to check out Sally’s blog Forward From The Heart and follow her on Twitter and Facebook for fitness updates throughout the week!

  1. Evelia Rushe 8 years ago

    Great post, Sally. Running and Pilates seem like a great combo; and more and more people seem to be getting into it. A couple of students in my class have told me how Pilates helps them run better- I’m tempted to run too…

  2. Kristy 3 years ago

    I just read your article and wanted to ask. Do you think Pilates adds to DOMS or makes it better.
    I’m a sprinter and do Pilates. I typically do pilates Monday and sprint Tuesday and Pilates Wednesday.
    I have suffered many quad injuries lately.
    Do you think it would be the cause? I would assume Pilates would help muse recover by couldn’t be adding to soreness.

    • Sarah 3 years ago

      We are sorry to hear about your quad injuries! It’s difficult for Robin to make a personalized recommendation without knowing your body/situation. We recommend speaking with your doctor about the best way to approach your Pilates routines with your tendency toward injury lately! Good luck!

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