The Pilates Life For A Runner

Zhanna is one of our very own instructors and also a passionate runner. We thought we'd interview her to see how Pilates has fit into her workout regime and how it benefited her runs. Here's what she had to say:
So Zhanna, you are obviously not just a Pilates instructor but also enjoying using it as a form of fitness on yourself too.  How long have you been doing Pilates yourself?
9 years now.
And running?
I started running in the last 5 years, focusing mainly on trail running.
Are you competing with it?  Typically how far do you run?
The furthest I've gone is 12km but I generally compete in 10km races.  My first race I ever did was also my favorite.  It was in Blue Mountain and it was the most beautiful, most scenic race I've ever done.  However, it was also the most challenging.  I should have clued in when the name of it was "Endurance Challenge!"  The first 3km was all increasing elevation.  It was more than just challenging!
How does Pilates help with your running?
Honestly, Pilates is such a great compliment to my trail running.  It has taught me so much about hip stability, how to gain it, where I need it, why it's important.  Core strength is so important with running long distance and especially with trail running because it is such an unforgiving environment, and unpredictable.  The more technical courses mean more rocks, changes in directions and terrain.  Many times you find yourself having to dodge obstacles and even jumping over them.  This also means a lot of ankle stability which I've been able to teach myself through Pilates.
Do you use Pilates post runs?
I use my Pilates experience with foam rolling and stretching after runs.  It helps me to recover quicker.
Are you conscious of using your Pilates skills while running?
Absolutely!  I use my Pilates breathing during my runs, engage my pelvic floor while running for hip and spinal stability.  I notice feeling lighter and more stable when I engage my pelvic floor vs if I don't.  With trail running in particular you want to feel like you're keeping your body light and steady.  If you don't have good core strength you can't achieve this.  It's not just about being able to connect to those muscles but having the endurance in them to keep them working over 10km.
What would you say is the biggest misconception about the muscular work in running?
People think running is all about your cardiovascular ability but you need to have a very strong centre.  You need to build awareness about your core strength and how to improve it.
All runners should do Pilates.