Review: Pilates for Runners by Harri Angell

I have never really done Pilates.  I do a bit of yoga and I regularly stretch post run but have never dabbled in Pilates so I was excited when asked to review this book.

I have never really done workouts from a book before.  I like classes but due to my work schedule (& prices) I can’t make them regularly.  I regularly use a DVD/itunes to do strength/conditioning workouts at home.  I imagined doing a workout with a book would be difficult to follow as you’d need to read between moves which would ruin the flow of the workout BUT I wanted to give it a go and….SPOILER ALERT…..I love this book.  By the time I reached chapter 4 I was convinced I should be doing weekly Pilates and when I finished reading it I messaged some running friends to tell them we should all be doing it.

Harri Angell writes the book with passion and an infectious enthusiasm which makes it a very easy & informative read.  I would have expected to skip to the workouts in a workout book but Harri recommends reading the previous chapters before doing the exercises.  From reading it I think this is hugely beneficial and doesn’t take much time.  In fact I read all of it.  I would have got my matt out & started the exercises straight away but I injured my shoulder yesterday and can barely move it.  As soon as I can move it I will definitely be doing Pilates once or twice a week and will post an update on the effects it has had.

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Here is a summary of my highlights and thoughts as I read each chapter:

Introduction

“I hope that through this book you too can discover how wonderful and accessible good, basic Pilates can be.  It won’t just change your running, it will change how you feel about yourself, and even your life.”

Throughout the book is testimonials from runners of all ages, beginners and elite.  It’s great to read how people of all levels use Pilates to improve their fitness.  It is clear that core strength is imperative to good running.  I knew this already but this book has solidified that for me “I didn’t realise how important core strengths until I got a strong core! It has paid off not only with my running but my everyday life. It affects how I sit, how I stand and run and I don’t have a bad back – everything is just better with a strong core.” Vassos Alexander, sports broadcaster, author & marathon runner.

Research shows that core strength training is important in improving running speed and performance.  “The participants in their study completed a six-week core strength-training programme and experienced a significant improvement in their 5k times, as opposed to no increase in speed for the control group.”

Chapter 1 : Why Pilates is good for runners?

This chapter tells us about all the advantages of adding Pilates in our routine, including:

  • Core muscles
  • Glutes
  • Back muscles
  • Balance and coordination
  • Breathing
  • Stretching
  • Posture

Chapter 2 : Joseph Pilates: A brief history

This chapter is very interesting as I knew nothing about this before.  It’s brilliant to know how Pilates was developed,

Chapter 3 : The Principles of Pilates

By the time I got to this chapter I was sold.  I will certainly be adding Pilates to my routine.  I’m not sure regular classes would work for me, due to time availability and cost, so I look forward to this book helping me.

Chapter 4 : Postural alignment

Just while reading this chapter I adjusted how I was sat to correct my posture and it feels great.  The power pose certainly works too: head up, spine lengthened, neutral alignment: you feel like you can achieve anything.

Chapter 5 : Breathing

This is important in helping get more oxygen to the muscles.  Breathe in to the diaphragm rather than the chest as this is shallow and, therefore, inefficient.

Chapter 6 : Equipment

The main piece needed is a matt….if you don’t have one I’d recommend going to TK Maxx for cheap ones of good quality.  There are other recommended pieces, which I may get eventually but it is good to know whats usually used.

There is a case study in this section about Sarah Sawyer, who has run 25 marathon/ulras since taking up running 6.5 years ago.  Sarah credits Pilates with the fact she has never had an injury “I see people who run run much less than me being plagued with running injuries and I think it’s because they don’t supplement their running with anything else, so they’ll have weak core, weak gluten, tight hips etc!”

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Chapter 7 : Mat Pilates exercises for runners

There are easy to follow instructions and photos to guide you.  The exercises are shown as beginner, intermediate and advanced.  Don’t start with the advanced, wait until you have performed and understood the beginners.

“I must be right. Never an aspirin. Never injured a day in my life.  The whole country, the whole world, should be doing my exercises.  They’d be happier.” Joseph Pilates

As Harri recommends do read precious chapters before jumping straight to the exercises.  I think this is hugely beneficial to so you have a better understanding of why the exercises are important and it doesn’t take much time.  I would also suggest reading the following chapters too before getting stuck into the exercises.  It’s a great read.

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I can’t wait to get stuck into the exercises in this chapter and the following 2 chapters:

Chapter 8 : Post Run Stretches

I know a lot of you need to start doing this.  So many people don’t stretch post run.  It is so important.

Chapter 9 : Five 10-15 minute daily routines to improve your running

This is a great help to get into it and get to know the exercises before you know them well enough to make up your own routine.

Chapter 10 : The healing power of Pilates

“The wonderful thing about Pilates is that it puts you in much closer touch with how your body is feeling and functioning.  You’ll begin to be more aware of minor changes, both mental and physical, during your training in a way that you weren’t before.”

Chapter 11 : Injuries

This chapter lists lots of running injuries with a section for each explaining:

  • Symptoms
  • Cause
  • Treatment
  • Prevention

Chapter 12 : Pilates for the running mind

Developing your mind for running is just as important as the physical.  It is definitely the key to training and running better, feeling t ease and getting through those tough miles.

Chapter 13 : Finding a Pilates class and that to look for

Great section to help you find the right class for you.

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——

I love this book and would definitely recommend you get yourself a copy.  It is clear that we could all do with some Pilates in our lives to help with our running and general well being.  The benefits are endless.

You can pick up the book HERE

Check out Harri’s website : runwithharri.co.uk for running, Pilates and personal training.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Liz Dexter says:

    This sounds excellent. I credit my twice-weekly yoga class with not having had any pain during my marathon, and it’s helping in my marathon training this year, too. A strong core really helps with your posture during running and being able to control your breathing is super-useful, too. I will have a look at this book as it’s specifically for runners.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. poorepurr says:

    Just ordered the book. I’ve been thinking about doing something in addition to my weekly S&C class and I had a book token to use.

    Liked by 1 person

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