Does Pilates Make you Faster?

Interview with Erica Ruge


Meet Erica Ruge. She has completed 10 marathons, multiple triathlons, and duathlons. She has had top 5 finishes in multiple World Championships being a part of TEAM USA as well as a #1 ranking in the US for her sports. She also teaches Pilates.

I first met Erica Ruge at a Pilates training weekend in 2013. I was struck by her physicality and command of the method. She had clearly been well trained. I assumed she had been doing Pilates for ever and I wasn't completely wrong.

What I didn't know was that Erica is one of the fastest women in the world. And she's just getting faster. Is Pilates a piece of the puzzle? Erica seems to think so. I caught up with this speedy lady to ask a few questions about how she works Pilates into her routine and what she thinks the benefits are.

What brought you to Pilates?

ER: Probably about 16 years ago my massage therapist / best friend suggested that I take Pilates to help with my tight back and hips (from running). I, of course, was all in and soon realized how great it was and how much better my body felt.

What do you consider the benefits of Pilates for your own body?

ER: There certainly are a lot of benefits of Pilates to my running. To touch on a few, it really changed my body to become a better runner. It increased my core strength, my whole core not just my "abs," which helped in my upright posture in running. It also has helped me balance the front and back sides of my body.

It may not always be balanced, but I try hard. Before my whole back side was tight. My overall flexibility has improved. Pilates picks up any imbalances in my body, which I can focus on and then decrease my chance of injury.

What do you think Runners and Triathletes should know about incorporating Pilates into their training?

ER: Pilates will give you a strong core, a flexible spine, more stability, and better breathing.

 Centering and balance is part of my form and posture in running. Pilates helps with proper movement patterns, which is super necessary in my running. I need to be able to move well all the time, from mile 1 to 13 to 20. So lots of focus and control too!

Any favorite Pilates moves?

ER: I love all moves!! So hard to pick just a few! But for my needs, The Roll Up helps my hamstring and low back flexibility while strengthening my core. The Push through on the Pilates Cadillac is another great one for my back  Footwork on the Reformer to get everything awake and working. The Long Stretch Series is another favorite with core and back body lengthening again. For pure enjoyment anything on the Wunda chair! I love a challenge.

You teach Pilates? How did that happen?

ER: After years of practicing Pilates, I decided I wanted to share with everyone how great I felt from Pilates. It changed my body and I wanted to help other people change theirs. I run stronger and faster, I bike better, and I just feel great. I want to pass on that along and share the method!

So, do you think Pilates is really making you faster?

ER: Most runners don't spend enough time on their bodies doing something besides running.

Pilates easily helps with form and posture, which can help efficiency and most importantly speed. It can ward off injuries by pointing out poor body mechanics. Lots of injuries come from weak glutes and hips. Pretty much every Pilates exercise will help this. Pilates is something to do for life to keep balance in form, muscles functioning and improve everyday living. This past year at the old age of 42, I ran my fastest times ever.

Erica Ruge has been practicing Pilates for over 15 years. She is a competitive tri/duathlete and has discovered that Pilates greatly enhances her training. She embraces the concept of prehab instead of rehab. Pilates has helped with preventing and healing any injuries that have crept up during her intense training. Follow her on Twitter @EricaRuge

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