Pilates running technique

Before the run I’m not sure if I overdid it a bit with my two runs over two hours in three days… But due to a combination of work and excessive play, my immune system crashed this week. Thankfully, it only took me a day to get over the worst – which hopefully means my body is generally fairly healthy. Anyhoo, yesterday, my City To Surf jumper and running top arrived. Since it was almost dark and raining by the time I finally set out for my run, I thought I’d do a little before and after pic comparison for you guys – along the lines of “run as if you mean it”. The before pic is on the left and the after pic below on the right. Lucky it was dark.

I’ve always loved running in the dark. Somehow it makes me get totally in the zone and I can just keep running… and running… and running. But since that wasn’t the aim yesterday, I opted for just under an hour on fairly level terrain – pushing myself to sprint and then slow down. Which I always find hard as I’m more of a long distance runner then sprinter. According to my tracking system I did about 11ks. All right but not overwhelming either.

What I focussed on during my run was my new running technique. Quite a few people have commented on how incredible it is that my back is still holding up despite being in agony only two months ago. Well, there’s a little secret to it: Pilates! Yep, you may think I only say that because I teach Pilates but it’s true! Of course, underlying core strength and the mobilising and stretching benefits of Pilates have been handy but that’s not something new. I’ve been doing that for years and years now.

What’s new is that I’ve started applying the Pilates principles to my running technique! Basically, it means I really focus on breathing deep into the back and sides of my ribcage, keeping the abs engaged, pelvis level and facing forward and draw my shoulderblades back and down while trying to push off as much as I can rather than try and go for a long forward stride. I’m convinced it’s what’s helped me run for hours without even a whiff of sciatica. It feels as if I’m being pulled by my navel and keep my ribcage wide and shoulders down – tension free and able to breathe more deeply and hence feeling less exhausted.

It’s like I’ve freed up my body to run as far as it wants. It’s hard to do it all the time but basically, even just starting with the breathing and then drawing your focus to your abs, a little later to your shoulders and neck and then to your pelvis and hip flexors works well. I still fall into old habits. hunching my shoulders forwards and up and closing my ribcage in. Trying to stride forwards as much as possible rather than propelling myself from my push-off. Try it sometime. It might not work for everyone but it’s certainly helped me.

A big thank you to everyone who has donated to my City To Surf run so far. You keep me motivated! Here’s where you can help. I’m running for The Butterfly Foundation. And do email me with any questions about my runs or technique at bookings@solwalkling.com. Sol x

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  • Hi! I’ve had sciatic problems recently from running, went to physio and she informed me my muscles around my pelvis have been overcompensating so I’ve strained my hip flexer. She suggested pilates to build up my core strength 9lost all core strength whilst pregnant) and after 3x 20 min sessions this week doing dvd at home Im already feeling a huge difference and my stomach has flattened loads and that was only after one week! I’m going to have a go at your running technique!

    • solwalkling

      Thanks for the feedback! Do let me know how you go, okay? Happy to give you more pointers. Or Recommend some good Pilates vids etc. Isn’t it just amazing?! You might really benefit from hip stabilising exercises like the side leg series and specific stretches – bit hard to tell without seeing you run or do Pilates. But if I were you, I’d ask the physio if she agrees – if yes, I can point you to some on the internet. Good luck with it. Sol x

  • Good post, Sol.

    I think you are really on the right track re: running from your core with a level pelvis and taking your weight well on the earth rather than ‘trying to stride long’. Lets go for a run together after next weekend!


    PS do you have an outfit decided yet?

    • solwalkling

      Thanks Dunstan! No, no outfit yet. Waiting to see who else will donate… :-)