Pilates Helps Marathon Runner Finish Race Injury-Free
Is running a marathon on your bucket list? You aren’t alone. Meet Lois Austin, longtime London Pilates Studio — and Vanessa Pearce — devotee. The dedicated mum of three and humanitarian aid consultant recently ran her first race, The New Forest Marathon, and finished in an impressive 4 hours and 14 minutes — injury-free.
With three kids under ten and a demanding job that requires frequent international travel, what inspired Lois to enter a marathon? “I think I just want to try and keep as fit as I can, and having a target to work towards helped me in sticking with it.” And as it happens, with a little help from someone close to her.
“I have a friend who is in the army and is also an avid runner. About two years ago, it was him who encouraged me to go on my first ever outdoor run — until then I had only ever run on a treadmill. I actually called him a week before the New Forest Marathon to ask if he thought that I should do it even though I really hadn’t done the proper training, and he told me to go for it. He has always shown incredible enthusiasm for my running which hasn really helped me in believing that maybe I could run the marathon. And now I have!”
But perhaps what is even more exciting, is that she was able to take part in the race and walk away with no injuries. Unfortunately, and more often than not, a hectic work and travel schedule paired with taking care of young children is a recipe of injury. But not this time, not for Lois.
Did the secret to an injury-free run lie in her training? Yes and no. She says: “I planned to train for six months before the race, but I got sick during a work visit to West Africa, which meant that I could not train properly for it. In the six months prior, I ran no more than six 10km runs and I was not able to manage a proper long run. I was, however, running four or five times a week, even if that only meant going 3 to 7km at a time. On top of that, I was doing some squats and lunges on a daily basis, and Pilates religiously once per week.”
With a history of injuries, Lois is acutely aware of how important a regular Pilates practice is. She has been doing Pilates for eight years, three of those with Vanessa. “I think my weekly Pilates sessions have strengthened my entire body. Not just my legs, but also my ankles, core and back, and this was essential for the long run,” she says.
“Vanessa is a fantastic Pilates instructor who manages to strike exactly the right balance of fun combined with toughness. She pushes you to do things that you think you can’t do, but she knows that you actually can. I feel confident that Vanessa gives her undivided attention during a class and helps to correct technique until it is just right, which is everything.”
What advice does she have for someone who wants to enter a marathon? “Well, you have to incorporate other forms of exercise, like Pilates, into your training program. You also have to believe in yourself and have the confidence at the start of the race that you can actually do it. If I can do it then anyone can!”
Well done, Lois! You are an inspiration to us all.