As Christmas approaches, the runners amongst you will be looking ahead to Spring 2017 and the racing season. Whether you’re a 10km addict or preparing for your first marathon, you’ll be finalising your training plan and digging out the winter clothing for the miles ahead.
But getting to the finish line and improving on last years time isn’t all about repetitively pounding the streets and upping the mileage. Enhancing your performance requires a holistic approach to training; balancing cardio and strength sessions, including intervals, hills and speed work and all important (but often ignored) recovery runs and rest days.
None of the above will be new to you if you’re a seasoned runner. However, a part of the training schedule often overlooked are sessions to improve core strength, posture and flexibility. “What’s that got to do with running?!” I hear you say. Well, everything actually…..
Core strength is far more than abdominal strength. It includes all the muscles in your torso, from the top of the chest down to the hips. Poor muscular strength in any part of the core results in poor posture as the weakened muscles cannot adequately support the skeleton.
In addition to overall core strength, we need equal strength between the left and right side of the body in order to maintain our balance. This can be challenged on a daily basis by us carrying children on one hip, a handbag on the same shoulder and favouring one side of the body for everyday tasks such as opening doors and even pouring cups of tea!
So how does this relate to running?
*Well, poor upper body posture for example, will affect your ability to breathe efficiently as rounded shoulders and a slumped posture will restrict your lung capacity.
*A flat back posture (hips tucked under) is like having no suspension on your car! Every step is compacting the lower spine, wearing down the cartilage and eventually causing pain as well as negatively altering the length of muscles in the back, hips and upper legs.
*Muscular imbalance can cause you to lean to one side/forwards/backwards when you run. This makes every step more energy sapping as you have to fight to maintain a straight line and place your feet with precision.
*Poor posture and muscular imbalance have a negative effect on flexibility as some muscles become over lengthened while others are unnaturally shortened.
These are just a few examples of how poor posture and core strength can impede your running and they are only the tip of the iceberg.
But don’t panic!
Pilates works on gently strengthening the core and toning muscles throughout the body. This results in a strong, balanced muscular system that can support the skeleton. This in turn enhances all our movements whether they be functional/day to day like bending down to put on our socks, to high performance athletic training which allows us to breathe efficiently, use the full capacity of each muscle and to place each running step with precision.
Check in next week for more details on how Pilates can improve your performance and reduce your incidence of injury. Also keep an eye on the website for information on the ‘Runners Pilates Classes’ I’ll be starting on the 5th January 2017 to take you all the way to the Brighton Half and Marathon!