In the quest to increase running miles it can be difficult to fit in all the things you would like to do. This has been particularly true for me lately. With vacation, events, summer parties etc. I have been fairly good at making sure I continue to run but what I didn’t realize until this weekend is that it’s not just about the running.
Since the end of June these classes slipped off my schedule somewhat (in the case of Bodypump it disappeared completely), but in that time I have had more and more problems with tight calf muscles which culminated in some issues following the River to Sea Relay (the next day I had planned to go to the Bodyflow class, but my muscles were so tight I was having trouble walking without feeling it, so decided against trying to do a class).
This weekend I was back on schedule and made it to both the Saturday morning and the Sunday morning classes. Early on Saturday I went out for my long run of the week hoping to get 16 miles in, but, as my calf muscles were still giving me some trouble, I ended up cutting it a bit short (okay, I still managed 14 but my calf muscles were not happy). I didn’t think I was going to be able to do much during the Bodyflow class so I set myself up at the back of the room (I didn’t think I would leave, but I did think I’d be sitting out a lot).
What actually happened surprised me – while I did struggle at times I did actually manage to keep it going for the whole class, with the added bonus that I felt great at the end. I noticed further improvements in how my legs felt after the Sunday class.
I’ll have to see how things go on tonight’s run but I’m pretty confident that I will feel better than I have in at least a couple of weeks as I don’t feel any residual tightness.
Bodyflow is a mixture of yoga, Pilates, and T’ai Chi. The benefits to runners include improvements in balance which leads to better running form; increased flexibility and strength which can reduce your risk of injury; the workout also strengthens your core which also helps to improve balance. There are some more details about the benefits of Pilates for runners here, and the benefits of yoga here.
It may be that you don’t have access to classes such as this, but a DVD/download called “Pilates for runners” was recommended to me, and I think I am going to invest in this for the times I can’t get to the gym.
I also mentioned Bodypump above and I intend to get back on track with those classes too, sooner rather than later. I believe these have also helped me this year with core strength, and upper body strength. The class is not about bulking up (you must pick weights you can handle for 5 minutes of repititions) and upper body strength is also something worthwhile improving for running efficiency – see for example this article on how improved upper body strength can benefit runners.