Most of us, as runners, understand the importance of cross training — both for our health and to better our running performance.
But let me be honest — I love running. I despise “working out.”
My aversion to gyms in general and weight machines specifically limits the amount of strength training I’m willing to do.
So over the years, I found other solutions. Yoga, certainly, and Pilates even more so. I think few things could be better for female runners than an hour spent working on your core and hip flexors, areas often weak in women and the root of many injuries.
Granted, I haven’t been as good lately about attending those classes, which never seem to be conveniently scheduled.
But in the past two years, a Pure Barre franchise opened here in Louisville. I didn’t go, because the jist I got was it was a bunch of wealthy women in expensive workout gear doing workouts to make their butts cuter.
In fact, we called it “booty ballet.”
Then one of my regular running partners started attending. And she got really, really buff. Arms and abs to die for, and she’s running great.
So when she started teaching classes at a new franchise, I decided to give it a shot.
Typical attire skews to the dance/yoga side of the spectrum, so I wore running capris and one of those tech-Ts that looks like a regular shirt.
Everyone else wore cute long tank tops and these no-slip Pure Barre-branded socks that look like what you wore at age 6 when your parents thought you’d fall on the kitchen floor.
In yoga — and barefoot running, incidentally — being able to articulate your toes is important, so I was happy to not have socks.
Class started with my friend rocking a telemarketer headset and calling out directions. I was sweating before the warmup ended.
Somewhere mid-way through the millionth squat of the morning, I realized I had been mislead.
This was not like yoga or pilates. This was not just well-groomed women in Lulu Lemon prancing around.
This was hard.
Each class includes an ab sequence, glute sequence, thigh sequence and arm sequence. Moving from one sequence to another provides little relief.
Similar to pilates, the class focuses on small, controlled movements — like squeezing a ball between your thighs while standing on one leg and doing tiny leg circles with the other.
I could tell that I was working muscle groups that need attention — and not just for vanity, but for faster running.
(I’m not saying having a perky derriere would be a negative side effect, either.)
But there were also movements that need runner modification. I’m sure I’m not the only one with tight hamstrings, which made standing on one leg with the other raised parallel to the floor pretty difficult — especially while doing one-legged squats.
And when my friend told us we could extend the stretch by dropping into a split?
I just laughed.