Thoughts From A Triathlete Written by guest blogger Joe Stephens, Attorney and 10-Time Ironman.
Last week I raced my tenth Ironman, and my second since I started taking Pilates. Earlier this year I raced my fastest ever half-marathon (1:23), qualified for the Boston Marathon (with a 3:03 in Austin), and got a slot for the 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas (which I had to turn down because I had another race that same day). I remain completely uninjured, my times have been faster, and my recovery is rapid. All of this happened after I injected Pilates into my training. Bluntly, the blogs I write are to tell you why you should too.
Endurance triathletes spend more time training than is probably healthy, but with that comes a great deal of experience dabbling in different methods and varying your approach. I’ve done CrossFit, I’ve spent hours in gyms (I worked as a personal trainer for two years), and my mother is a yoga instructor. The single best thing I have done, though, is include Pilates—I can honestly say that there is no better supplement to the standard regimen of a triathlete.
My blogs on this site will not be raving about Pilates generally, though they definitely will boast about its benefits. Specifically, I am going to try and convey to you exactly how and why you should include Pilates in your workout program. This is not restricted to triathletes, either, as this applies to each sport individually, and those who want a deviation from the normalcy of a standard gym routine.
But for this introductory piece, let me offer the following broad strokes:
1. Pilates will find your muscles. Gym rats are used to big muscle groups being worked and love cosmetic improvement. You’ll get that in Pilates, but you’ll get what’s even more important: supplemental strengthening. You want stronger shoulders? Better know where your rotator cuff is and how to strengthen it. Think excessive tightness is normal after a long run? Think again—yes you’re recovering, but understand that you can ward off some of that pain ahead of time. Simply, Pilates will condition you in ways other sports fall short.
2. It is absolutely, unequivocally, most certainly a workout. People too often confuse Pilates with something that it’s not, and it would be an error to fall into the same trap. When I was putting together 30-hour training weeks last year, I felt more comfortable on a 120-mile bike ride in the dead of summer than I did in the Pilates studio. The real intensity comes when you key in—with short, targeted motions—on muscle groups you simply didn’t know existed.
3. ALL PILATES IS NOT THE SAME. Trust me. Get lucky and find someone (I did with Liana) who completely tailors each hour to you and your needs. Gym Pilates is not what you’re after. It’s good, like gym yoga is good, but you owe it to your body, health, and longevity to make the most efficient use of your time. Liana has spent thousands of hours obtaining her certification, she works specifically with triathletes, and she knows what I need. More importantly, she listens, reacts, adjusts, and makes sure I am getting a workout that is best for me. My personal advice is to avoid larger studios, find a smaller practice and try it out. Give yourself five sessions and you’ll never look back.
Each week I plan on addressing something different, all of which is pertinent to the world of Pilates and triathlon. The easiest thing to come by is mis-information, so I plan on using the knowledge and experience I have accumulated to discuss how things really are.
More thoughts from Joe here.