Max Ziegler is co-founder and co-director of Core The Studio, a boutique fitness studio in Kensington offering expert and intimate training in Pilates, Barre and Personal Fitness, as well as nutritional advice and goal orientated meal planning. Here’s what Max had to say about how pilates can help with marathon training.
As a personal trainer I am a firm believer that fitness isn’t gained through one discipline alone, but a combination of strength, stamina and flexibility. Think of your body as your machine, and these disciplines as your cogs – if you’re missing one, then your body cannot function efficiently when performing strenuous activity.
Training for a marathon is one of the hardest, most challenging, and equally rewarding things a person can do. As anyone who has done so will know, training your body to endure tough repetitive exercise for a prolonged amount of time can really take its toll. It’s for this reason that making sure your body is of optimum fitness is essential to ensure peak performance.
This is why I tell clients that I train, particularly those training for a marathon, that they should also prepare their bodies with Pilates.
Pilates Increases Core Strength
One of the main benefits of Pilates for runners is its focus on the core. Pilates is one of the only exercises that requires your core to constantly be engaged, strengthening the muscles in your entire torso: hips, abs, pelvic floor, back, shoulders etc. You may think that running requires mainly your legs, but running also puts a huge strain on your psoas muscle (lower abdomen). Pilates will help to stabilise your body when you run, particularly when running uphill, so that your lower back isn’t forced to take over.
Pilates Improves Joint Health
Running is an extremely repetitive sport – it is the same movement, over and over again. This high impact can put a huge amount of stress on your joints. As Pilates concentrates on strengthening the muscle and ligaments, your joints also become protected in the process. Pilates gives you all the benefits of an advanced yoga class, combined with fatiguing the muscles until they fail – making it strenuous while putting no stress on your joints or bones.
Pilates Improves Posture And Balance
Improved posture through core strength means that your spine and surrounding muscle is protected during intense or repetitive exercise. This means that you are less likely to injure yourself through repetitive movement, and you can say goodbye to post-run back ache. Your improved strength and posture, in turn, improves your balance. As your muscles strengthen, you will be able to retain and regain control much faster if you stumble when running, helping you to avoid nasty falls.
Pilates Can Speed Up Recovery
Pilates builds all over body strength, ensuring all muscles are in good condition. Increased joint mobility, muscle strength and general fitness will decrease your recovery time after strenuous training or an injury, and you won’t be left feeling so sore after workouts. Plus, Pilates is a form of exercise that can be done even while injured, strengthening any previous injuries and helping you prepare to return to training.
Pilates Improves Flexibility
Since so much of Pilates involves stretching, muscles and ligaments become more flexible and are therefore less strained by the repetition of running. Your hips will become more flexible and stronger, allowing you to run more fluidly and kick back further in your stride with less effort. The actual act of stretching will also ensure that you thoroughly stretch out your muscles as much as required after a long run and you won’t be so stiff the next day.
Pilates Teaches Controlled Breathing
A healthy breathing pattern is crucial to long distance running, and learning to regulate your own breathing will prevent you losing excess energy. Pilates teaches mindful breathing, as you learn to fill your lungs fully, engage your diaphragm, and create stable breathing.
Pilates focuses on targeting each muscle, ligament and joint before moving on to the next exercise, all combined with full body movement to ensure total muscle and joint health. The result is a more balanced, stronger and leaner physique ready to take on any marathon.
About the expert
Max Ziegler, personal trainer and nutrition expert, started his sporting career at just 13. Training with a professional World Boxing Champion, Max soon went on to win national and international championships in kickboxing, karate and boxing. Today, with 10 years’ experience specialising in body transformation and performance optimisation, Max’s clients range from professional actors and athletes to CEOs of major corporations.