Pilates for Running: How Pilates Can Boost Your Running


Meghan Manaois is a badass runner and Pilates expert, hailing from Southern CA. She tells us exactly how Pilates exercises can improve your running.

Pilates for running can be an amazing workout for your endurance, flexibility, and form. Running and pilates have a lot in common, and many athletes will find the poses and practices directly translate into better running form.

Learn how (and why) to add pilates and running to your already-busy training schedule.

Using Pilates for Runners

woman doing pilates

So many of us lace up, step out the door, and hit the road. We focus on mileage, our pace, or the scenery around us. Our pace quickens, our arms might flail around, and strides might get too long–and our hamstrings and glutes eventually tighten up.

Most of the time we are only vaguely aware of our body moving through space because our main goal is to hit the mile markers or the pace on our watches.

In Pilates, the sole focus is on slow, deliberate, and appropriate movement. Whether circling the legs separate from the pelvis or contracting the inner core to help stabilize a position, each movement is thoughtful.

Pilates for runners teaches you how not to cheat, using sheer strength and will. It helps to identify those inner weaknesses in the stabilizing muscles.

Fusing Pilates as cross training with running helps us take what we learned in Pilates back to the road! We’ll be able to identify improper movements while running and make minor adjustments to correct our form.

How to Use Pilates for Running

Improve Your Posture 

woman doing pilates

Often, as our running body fatigues, running form suffers. Many times we collapse in on ourselves, with the upper body slumping–hoping that our legs will just carry us to the finish line.

What we fail to recognize is that our body is a complete system. Once one part is compromised, the rest follows suit. If we lose our posture, our legs can’t function to their full potential because of added strains.

The benefits of Pilates include emphasizing proper posture during every movement. It trains the proper alignment of head, neck, spine, and pelvis throughout each exercise. It also builds strong core strength. 

Strengthening those muscles through slow and deliberate  Pilates moves allow us to hold the same correct alignment through any run, no matter the distance.

Nurture Easier Breathing

woman trail running

One of the fundamentals of Pilates is the breath.

Any Pilates instructor will tell you that the breath is the central component of every movement. We often think of breathing as something that happens to us, not something we actively participate in. Yet, with thoughtful and controlled breathing, we can ensure that enough oxygen is getting to the appropriate muscles.

There are many schools of thought as to which is the correct breathing exercise for running. Without weighing in on any one of those specifically, Pilates will bring awareness to your breathing on a deeper level.

A Pilates class will teach you proper deep, diaphragmatic breathing that can oxygenate every muscle and relieve tension while running. Between the improved body awareness, posture and breathing, consider Pilates a way to subtly, yet effectively, compliment and elevate your running!

Meghan Manaois: How She Landed On Running and a Pilates Schedule

Running has been my passion my entire life. From age four when I ran down a cinder track in jeans and a t-shirt, arms pumping, trying to emulate my older brother.

Growing up a sprinter, form and technique were strongly emphasized. As I aged and recreational distance running became my norm, my focus strayed from form to miles.

That is, until the day when the first lingering aches and pains appeared.

Fixing these niggling issues has become a slight obsession of mine and that obsession eventually took me down the path of Pilates, honing in on the range of motion to target supporting muscles, and to return to a more appropriate form.

Who knew I’d landed on the perfect combination of Pilates workouts?

Add Running and Pilates to Your Routine

Want to learn more about how pilates for running can complement your running, relieve back pain, and build deep core muscles? Or maybe just follow along with Meghan and her running adventures? Check this out.

And if you’re out of ideas for strength workouts, try this!