Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pilates for Dummies


My physical therapist has been nagging urging me for months to start going back to Pilates, particularly since I have this annoying hamstring on my left leg that seems to think it needs to be tighter than a cello string (which is a direct result of a hip imbalance, so I've been told).

"Jill, Pilates is going to help you loosen up the tightness way more than daily stretching or yoga, it's dynamic stretching, it will help balance your hip, it will make your core stronger which will make you a more efficient runner...." yada, yada, blah, blah, yak, yak....week after week.

A couple years ago, I used to go to a pretty cool Pilates place downtown called ... I don't know what it was called, the name has escaped my pea-sized brain... but the place used the reformer Pilates machine (which always made me think I was walking into some sort of torture chamber.  It actually sort of was).  The place came highly recommended from an ex-Bronco football player I worked with and it was incredibly cheap ($11/hour visit) and I could drop in, as needed.
Back then, my hamstring was annoying, too (nice to know some ailments just don't want to die) and this class really helped!  It was just a royal pain to drive a half hour downtown, sometimes in rush-hour traffic, so I stopped going.  Plus, there's no annoying hamstring when your foot's screaming and won't let you run.

But the thingie helped my hamstring.  A lot.  And, as a perk, really strengthened my core.

So I thought it was time to actually listen to the PT and go back.  But I didn't want to drive downtown and my uber expensive gym has a couple mat Pilates classes each week (Free!  Well, "free" with my uber expensive membership) so Monday was Pilates day.

I walked into Pilates class, at 10:15am on a Monday morning, with about 50 others (really?  At 10:15 on a Monday?), fully decked out in my brightest pair of Nike Tempo Shorts, grabbing one of the communal mats (gross!) and plopping my out-of-Pilates-shape bod right near the front so I wouldn't miss any of the instructions.  Yep, I was always one to sit in front of the class so as not to miss a word the teacher said.  Just call me super-geek!

The instructor, Janelle, was incredibly fit and in phenomenal Pilates shape.  Her leg rose straight up in the air and made a perfect damn T-shape.

Me and my tight hamstring raised somewhat in the air resembled more in the lines of the letter 7 (yes, that is my actual leg, taut hamstring and all.  Please ignore the junk on the floor and doesn't everyone lean their ironing board against their dresser?)

Despite the fact I can't get my legs to come even close to Janelle's; my toes are still frozen being barefoot in a 39 degree'd room; I was the only sole of 50 wearing Nike Tempo Shorts (when you own 30 pairs, trust me, you wear them everywhere); I think I caught some sort of infectious, terminal disease from the communal mat (where is my pink yoga mat, anyway?) - I LOVED the class.  Why?

Because I walked out of there without limping and clinching my hamstring and glute, which had become the norm lately.  I think it's helping.  And since that class two days ago, I've been implementing some Pilates moves after every run and I am noticing that I am not nearly as stiff.  And my 11 mile run today was literally, hamstring annoyance-free.  YES!

Here's some perks of Pilates for runners I found on the web:
  • Prolongs running career
  • Builds core strength for improved efficiency and endurance
  • Increases flexibility and range of motion
  • Restores natural posture and alignment of the body
  • Improves stability and balance
  • Corrects imbalances in the body reducing the risk of injury
  • Increases stamina and endurance through proper breathing techniques
  • Builds upper body strength without adding bulk
  • Increased concentration and mental focus
  • Less stress and tension
  • More efficient respiratory and circulatory systems 
  • Builds running efficiency, breathing and endurance.
  • Improves Running Performance 
And can help eradicate the following running ailments:
  • Week inner thighs
  • Twisting or dropping hips
  • Tight calf muscles
  • Tight hamstring muscles (YAY for Jill :))
  • Tight hips
  • Tight IT (iliotibial) band
  • Excess movement of lower back
  • Feet or knees rolling inward
So me and my Nike Tempo Shorts are going to continue to go to Pilates at least once a week - gimpy 7-looking leg and all - hopefully carrying my newly found pink mat, wearing (hopefully hole-less) fleece socks, and I'm going to dynamic stretch the hell out of the hamstring and put that damn thing out of it's misery.  And dangit, get some killer abs in the process.   But shhh, don't tell my PT, I don't want him to think he had a roll in any of this; he already has a big head from that 50k he didn't train for and ran anyway.  Hate him! ;)

I'm thinking Pilates is going to be my new best friend for awhile.  Or alcohol.  One of them is bound to get that leg slightly more vertical!  Now, if we can just find a solution for my aching feet....

In other running news:
- Not much.
- I cut my mileage back a little last week - I just feel my body isn't ready right now to be in the 60 mpw range without some consequences later.  And I'm not mentally ready to deal with it all right now.  I had a pretty decent 50 mile week and that's better than a crappy 60 mile week.  For now.
- I had a nice long chat with my neighbor, whom I ran with on Sunday.  Seems my whining and complaining about my inability to run a decent pace and rack up the mileage were starting to grate on his nerves.  I can't imagine why, though....who doesn't want to hear that same crap over and over?  So he sternly reminded me that really, I haven't been running consistently more than a small handful of months and to look how far - really - I have come in this amount of time....and that this whole getting back into some sort of place where I left off long ago is going to take more than one marathon training cycle.  I hate it when other people are right.  I'll touch more on this in the upcoming weeks as the marathon draws closer, but in the meantime, if you hear me complain about my pace or my lack of endurance - please yell at me to shut UP!
Week 11's numbers:
Run: 50.18 miles
Swim: 1.93 miles
Weights: 1:20:00


One last word....seems the consensus is that, YES, we in blogland DO want a holiday gift exchange again this year so look for that post early next week.  YAY, something else to blog about other than my pitiful pace (did anyone yell at me? :)).

Run strong, my friends!

54 comments:

Heather @ Just a Colorado Gal said...

Love the picture of D-town :)

Back when I was in undergrad, I wrote an article on Pilates for the Daily Camera in Boulder. I was super intrigued by it, but i just remember it being pretty pricey. I know they offer mat classes at my gym--maybe I'll give them a try!

Terzah said...

You make convincing case for Pilates. I'm sure my gym has classes too--maybe I can squeeze it in somehow. I have a bad-ish left hip too. There need to be more hours in the day!

I don't mind your complaining about your pace, but you do need to be nicer to yourself, you 0-to-50 Type A runner, you! As you say, a good week of slightly fewer miles is WAY better than a bad week of any kind.

Matthew Smith said...

Jill, I just saw that you're following my blog, so I had to check yours out. I'm your newest follower! Yay! First of all, you're a terrific writer and HILARIOUS! I was laughing throughout your whole post. My favorite parts were: Leg shaped like a 7, and Ironing Board on the dresser. SOOO FUNNY! I struggle with the hammy too. Maybe I need a good pilates session to help me out. Maybe I can pick up some tips from you about running as it is NOT my favorite thing in the world to do. I'll be enjoying your journey. Thanks for sharing.

Laura said...

Our coach incorporate Pilates into the torture we do every Saturday. It hurts and it is hard but man does it work!

Julie Arts said...

My left leg does what your does - not cool. Maybe you've just convinced me to try pilates. Fine. I'll go. But they better be nice to me :p

Christi said...

Great job on the pilates!

Laura said...

I love it when people give me just the kick in the butt I need to stop whining and get on with it. I have only been to pilates a couple times in college and never with the machines. Keep up the good work!

ShutUpandRun said...

You showed everyone who was boss with your Tempo shorts. They were all jealous. I used the communal mat this week too and it was gross. Never again. Could not even concentrate on class b/c of that damn gross mat.

Hope pilates is the trick to keeping you strong and healthy!

C2Iowa said...

I have a coach that is always talking about wgt trgg; she slips it into the conversation whenever possible. I wonder if I will be hearing about pilates next? Scarey...... :)

Ana-Maria RunTriLive said...

Yes in the pilates! I do a tape at home, only 20 min, but it got my hamstring from where you are (pic) to perfect T in less than a month! So keep it up!
And good job for lowering mileage a bit. Important, as you have just gotten back to running after a long "rest".
And yay for tempo shorts!

bobbi said...

I guess I need to get back to pilates, huh. My hammy thanks you...

For the record, I have NEVER run 50 miles in a week, so, you are way ahead of me :)

And my ironing board just sits out all the time. Even tho I never use it. So it's become a bedroom dumping zone...

Jessica (Pace of Me) said...

aahhhh i love this, jill! i cannot say enough good stuff about pilates - it is so good for runners and for everyone! and so much of it is really so simple if you think about it, and that makes it very humbling. pilates really changed my life. it has helped with my running and with so much more. yay!

Abby @ Have Dental Floss, Will Travel said...

I bet we could convince Kate to come out for the adventure race if you made the trip, too :)

Ewa said...

I would say that was my Pilate's leg on the second picture but since it is nowhere as shapely as yours, I'll shut up.
Your post makes me think of more aggressively addressing my aches and pains. For now my aggression extends to whining - a lot. :)
Don't those Pilates beds look like medieval torture devices. Oh, wait they are.
50mile week is still a very good week.

Mamarunsbarefoot said...

My hammies are pretty darn tight too! I know this would help, but I'm loving strength training and need to start upping my running. No time!

Marlene said...

*whistles* Nice leg! That's about as straight as mine will go too. :S Maybe I need some pilates...

Nice mileage last week!

Tasha @Healthy Diva said...

I used to go to pilates all of the time, you got me thinking I should start going again. :-)

CautiouslyAudacious said...

Well, I had been trying Yoga the last 2-3 months and have been loving it!!! But sure do make a good sales pitch for Pilates!

Kim said...

I have super tight hamstrings and really tight calves, so my leg barely gets straighter than yours. I've been doing yoga at least once a week for about two years now, and although by the end of class my hamstring is loosened up to almost normal person level, I don't feel like I'm making any real progress. I start every single class just as stiff as I've always been. I'm going to look for a place to try pilates and see if it helps!

Kate said...

I miss yoga, because though I was never all that flexible, I'm sooooo much less so since starting to run. Pilates would probably be great, too. Until the YMCA starts offering an 11:30 p.m. class, though, I'm out. I'm glad that you independently of any pro-Pilates remarks your PT may or may not have made decided on your own to start going again and that it's helping. Yea you! :)

Smart, smart girl to cut back the miles.

Wooo hoo on the gift exchange!

Ironing board??? What is this strange creature of which you speak?

Big Daddy Diesel said...

Hold up!!! Pilates is better for us endurance athletes then yoga? I didnt know, I want to do something for a better core and flexibility, I was thinking yoga, but now you have me second guessing that decision

I dont know how to use that machine

GZ said...

My leg lift doesn't look like the number 7. It looks more a 2.

Pilates eh? Sheesh. All this stuff I have to do to run INSTEAD of running.

misszippy said...

Funny, I've been thinking about the gift exchange and wondering if you had any thoughts on it! Has it really been a year since the last one?!

Pilates--so glad it is working for you. My leg would look just like yours held up like that. But we are runners, no?

Good girl on reeling in the mileage a bit. Look how far you have come and focus on that...it's pretty damn awesome!

Katie @ Will Race for Carbs said...

Okay, you have me pretty convinced to try pilates!! I think I can do some of the moves even in my current state. The promise of a stronger core has me wanting to try it. I would like to be a little more steel and a little less dough boy in that area.

My ironing board is buried in the closet which tells you how much I iron!

Julie said...

I'm gonna skip yelling at you about being nicer to yourself...I've done that already, but I am going to yell at you for mentioning Halloween candy in Terzah's comments...I ended up eating a bunch of it after reading your post...and I had completly forgotten about it until then! So thanks...thanks a lot! :)

And like BDD said Pilates over Yoga? Hmmm sounds interesting?

2 Slow 4 Boston said...

Glad the Pilates are working out for you. That doesn't happen very often that you can tell after one workout whether yu are on the right track.

SUAR was just blogging about those community yoga mats. Something about other people's pubic hair on them.

You have a smart neighbor. Seems to me your running has been going great considering you almost didn't make it up Pikes Peak with me (kinda).

Char said...

Firstly thanks for the comment on my blog the other day. Made me laugh so much and then I showed my family so they could laugh.

Secondly I think I saw your pink yoga mat tucked behind the dresser that has the ironing board leaning against it.

Teamarcia said...

Ah the elusive perfect T....I could do that once upon a time before running petrified my, well everything.
I'm glad pilates is working for you.
Now what is this ironing board you speak of?

Amanda@runninghood said...

I used to love doing pilates!! Then someone ripped off my pilates dvd and I have not done it since. But I did do it through my first two marathon training cycles until I forgot my moves. I'll have to remember them or take a class again one of these days. :)

Michelle said...

Glad pilates is working for you! I love pilates and after being away from it for a bit just took up a mat class again. But that perfect T...not happening ;)

Amanda - RunToTheFinish said...

ok so crazy thing... I started going to pilates on the reformer machine. It hurttttts cause I'm a weakling, but the day after I can run my ass off! what is that?!

Adrienne said...

Ummm Hmmm...somebody did their homework it seems!!

Strength and flexibility-soooo vastly underrated!

ajh said...

I should do Pilates which I have tried and did not like or Yoga which I have never done even one second of. I want someone to pay me to get fit as my job.

Aimee said...

Yay for a "free" pilates class at your gym! Yay for it helping your hamstring! I would love to try pilates! I think after my IM I will look into it b/c I've heard such great things about it.

YAY for the gift exchange again! Let me know if you want my help this year!

jt00ct said...

Great thoughts on pilates, I have been looking for some core/strength training motivation. I have had similar hamstring issues, maybe this is the answer. Thanks for sharing!

gary said...

I gotta vote alcohol. I would so fear a loud popping sound at about 20 percent ...

Black Knight said...

I should do Pilates too but my life is too hectic and I don't have the time. Thanks for this interesting and important post.
Ok for the gift exchange: I know that it is a hard job for you, thank you again!!!

Tim said...

You iron? I'm impressed.

Caratunk Girl said...

Your L looks like my L. I guess I have tight hamstrings too. I know I need to start doing some of that stuff, it will prevent injury!

YAY for the exchange!! Awesome.

Raina said...

Pilates....you will be rewarded for it! That's a nice gam, you have, BTW :))

I am still impressed with your marathon training. You have come SO far this year. Just think of the foot a year ago. No more tears! You are on the upswing, Jill.

Jenn said...

Perfect damn T-shape! Bahaha! You're #7 looks pretty good to me-very familiar!! Yes, Pilates are great! I wish we had some classes around here actually. Maybe I should get a video. It could collect dust next to my P90X videos..... My gym is NOT uber expensive (it's free actually) but all we have is spin class and Zumba and Pump for now. Hickville! Really, though, you are right Pilates are excellent for a runner.

You are your Tempos!

Glad you're listening to your body Jill! You really have come so far! I have no problem telling people to Shut up!! I'm telling you to Shut up right now....just in case you're fighting your inner demons on pace as I type this! Keep up the great work Jill!

Jenn said...

You AND your tempos, not you ARE your tempos....

lindsay said...

yeah i don't think i could even get my leg remotely to 90*. i can bend it 90* though :)

did i miss the pre-announcement for the blogger gift exchange?!? COUNT ME IN AGAIN!!!!! :)

Anne said...

I used to live across the street from a Pilates studio. I miss it. Your motivating post may just get me back in there after the holidays.

Molly said...

I've been to one pilates class in my life, I kind of do my own yoga/pilates moves on my living room floor while the dog licks my face. I agree, it does help things.

So does alcohol : )

Prasetyo said...

Nice blog posting. I'm just blogwalking and very interesting to stop here and read your post. I like this.

But, dont forget to give us your comment into my blog ya.

Thanks for share.

Emz said...

Hi my friend!!
I love your posts. Needed to read this!!

I too, had done Pilates in the past & know I need to revisit it!!
50 people though - holy crap!
I've never used the "reformer" it intrigues me & scares me at the same time.

TX Runner Mom said...

Okay, you've inspired me to give pilates a try! I've been thinking about it forever and they offer a class at the gym at work (for FREE). :-) And, I have a weird hip imbalance too, so it can't hurt!

Irene said...

Pilates, Hmmm? Come to think of it, I've never really (properly) tried Pilates. I have a DVD somewhere, tried it once and was done.

Count me in for the gift exchange! It was fun last year.:)

HappyTrails said...

If it's any comfort to you - my leg resembles a 7, too. :-) Oops....

See.Kate.Run said...

I wanted to try Pilates but where I live it is freaking expensive - 50 bucks an hour.

I should try a video or something because it sound pretty beneficial. Glad it is working out for you!

Tara said...

Well shit, how many posts have I missed! I am all for pilates, having a strong core is essential for me since I have to deal with my stupid SI joint coming out all the time. I should be going to pilates with you, but......

I need to go to yoga too!

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