One thing I’ve realized about myself lately is that while I LOVE the consistency of running, when it comes to classes I am much happier to switch things up, which is why I am excited by things like ClassPass and PeerFit.
That being said you are more likely to see results by following a program in its entirety…and yet there are some really great lessons from mixing it up. I asked class hopper and runner, Charlie, to share those with us today!
I’ve run 4 marathons and have just started training for my fifth, Chicago, in October, and although I am no expert, I have a fair bit of personal experience to work with. When I ran my first marathon, I trained diligently, running 5 times a week, always sticking to my training plan. However, all I did was run. I didn’t add in any weights sessions or yoga classes, and lo and behold, I got injured.
Over the next few marathon training cycles, I tinkered and tailored training plans to come up with what works best for me. That seems to be 3 runs a week, and above all, variety when it comes to cross training. I absolutely love group fitness, and really enjoy trying out new classes and studios across London (luckily we’re pretty spoiled for choice- although nothing compared to New York!). Memberships like ClassPass and SoMuchMore really help with my addiction!
I’ve been told by people in the past that only running can make you better at running, however I disagree. I’ve learned so much from my class hopping over the years and it’s made me into a faster, stronger and better runner. Here’s a little of what each class has taught me;
Going to a yoga class as an inflexible runner is a humbling experience and a reminder of just how crucial the post run stretch is!
Recovery after a long run is far more comfortable (and quicker) if you take the time to stretch out your muscles. Yoga has also taught me the importance of deep breathing and mindfulness; setting an intention for a run, focusing on breathing properly throughout (especially during speed sessions) and ensuring I get the most out of my run.
Barre has taught my just how important the glutes are, and how much work mine need! Weak glutes lead to a whole host of issues in runners, yet they are often undertrained.
Glute activation exercises in Barre remind me not to neglect this key area! Additionally, it can help you understand how small seemingly insignificant movements really add up- just like very small gains you see in your running will add up to much greater things over time.
Getting the core fired up in a Pilates class reminds me that it’s our core that helps maintain a good running posture. A strong core improves posture and increases stabilization, especially important in the latter stages of a long run or race when you are fatigued.
For me, it’s my stomach that often hurts as much as my legs at the end of a marathon and I try to remember this as I grit my way through the pain of the Pilates 100.
A weights class or weight room can be intimidating, but so can lining up to run 26.2 miles. Adding weights into my routine has made me stronger mentally and physically, and pushed me out of my comfort zone. Weights are great for highlighting areas of weakness and imbalance in your body that need to be worked on to improve your running.
Circuit sessions and classes like Barry’s have taught me to push up the intensity just when it hurts the most. In the final few minutes of a race or run you may feel like you can’t move your legs any faster…until you see the finish line and manage find that little extra something.
Boxing has taught me that I am mentally and physically stronger than I thought I was. Mental strength is key to marathon running, enabling you to keep going and push through ‘the wall’ despite the fact that every muscle in your body wants you to stop.
I confess, I don’t actually love most spin classes while I’m in them- much like a 5K race. Head down, work hard, and get it done. Spin classes have taught me that it might not be pretty, but the effort will be worth it in the end.
You know the trendy classes that pop up at a studio, only to disappear a few months later. Classes such as Animal Moves, Trampolining, Poleates, and Bend it like Barbie remind me that above all, running should be fun.
It’s my hobby, my downtime- I often get too stressed out with races and training plans, and forget why I’m running in the first place. Taking a silly, light-hearted class with friends is the perfect reminder that fitness is to be enjoyed not dreaded!
MEET THE AUTHOR
I’m Charlie and I blog about running, fitness, and healthy living whilst maintaining an 80/20 balance. My goal is to pace the way to healthy without missing out on any of the fun. My favorite things are fitness classes, breakfast and traveling. I’m thrilled to be guest blogging on Run to the Finish especially after meeting Amanda in real life in NYC before the marathon in 2013!
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Wohoo thanks to Charlie for making me feel better about my current program of switching it up between Pilates, DailyBurn workouts and the TRX. I’m actually learning all of the lessons she talks about!
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