Pilates and Marathoning

Every good marathoner knows he should cross-train.  Most of the ones I know struggle with “cramming it in” as marathon training already consumes at least ten hours a week.  Triathletes have it easy since they are already running, biking, and swimming (although they should cross-train away from these three also.)  But – I’m a marathoner – not a triathlete – so I carry a special cross-training burden.

My wife Amy is a yoga fanatic.  While I love Shivasina, I have trouble keeping up with most yoga, especially Ashtanga Yoga.  At the encouragement of Dave Jilk, I’ve done Bikram Yoga on and off for the last few years and – while it’s been helpful – I find the 90 minute sessions a little long (30 minutes, to be precise) and I’ve gotten bored of the rigidity of the practice.

Amy has suggested for a while that I try Pilates.  Wendy Lea has become completely addicted to Pilates and has been raving about it for the past year.  The Pilates equipment (a “reformer”) looks like something a mad scientist created.  I figured “what the hell” and decided to try it yesterday.

I took a private lesson at Flatiron Athletic Club. I had an awesome time.  It helped that my teacher was great, but I was completely intrigued by the assistance the reformer gives you.  There’s a lot of physics going on that help achieve the second order goal of “body mind connection” (e.g. a nerd gets to think a lot about what he’s doing.)  I’ve got three more private lessons before I’m “allowed” to take a class – we’ll see how I feel about this in a few weeks.  In the mean time, I had a new life experience yesterday (e.g. Pilates) and got some cross-training in. 

  • Interesting and helpful post – thanks.

    Only thing I take issue with is ‘triathletes have it easy’ – I understand the context in which you say this, but for those of us who travel it’s definitely not true – it’s actually MUCH harder. Finding a decent bike or ANY pool when on the road is usually a major PITA. I’m probably going to be doing more running and less triathloning in ’06 for this reason.

    For me, the best thing about running is that it’s so portable. What I need is a cross-training method that’s as easy on the road as it is when I’m home. I don’t suspect Pilates qualifies but it sounds worth a try.

  • Bart Gottschalk

    “Triathletes have it easy”. As a triathlete I’m not used to seeing that one – but I understand your point. The real difficulty for triathletes surface when you get an injury that requires specific strength or rehab work on top of training in three sports. I’ve also been interested in pilates for a while as a core strengthening exercise so I’ll be looking forward to your future posts on the topic.

  • virgilio

    Buy the ball! It’s a fantastic seat for long days. You can work for longer hours than in a regular chair… I know it’s the new years time, but I know you have those days too.
    Happy new year,

  • My humble apologies to all triathletes everywhere. I meant my “triathletes have it easy” comment tongue-in-cheek (not foot-in-mouth) .

  • Brad- Bonnie has been taking 2 to 3 Pilates classes a week now for about 6 months. she loves it and it has done wonders for her back, her body and her frame of mind. I highly recomend it. If you are looking for a big ball we have lots of fit balls from stillsecure that we give out at trade shows

    happy new year

  • A sensible stretching routine is essential to be able to run throughout your life. I finished my last race with a ripped IT band (and still finished). The result: I’m no longer a runner.

    It doesn’t matter if it’s yoga, pilates, etc. It’s just important to find something that keeps you working on flexibility. It’s extremely difficult, because it feels like you’re not doing anything.

    You gotta do, though.