So as part of my recovering from overtraining/getting back to the things that helped things come together really quickly last year in the lead up to my Boston Qualifying race (Mountains 2 Beach), I joined Pure Barre again this last May. I’ve been loving being back (anything I get into, I get into it HARD) and go 4-5 times a week. I love Pure Barre- and soooo highly recommend it to a runner who is looking to supplement their running with something else.
My quick history with da Barre:
I decided to do a Groupon for ten barre classes last January (2014). I went to one class, really hated it- it was so hard, I was so not flexible, it wasn’t running. Then I was really grumpy- I had paid for something that I wasn’t amped on, but I didn’t want to waste my money, so I went back for all 10 classes and slowly started to like it more – but the real kicker was I could start to see a change in my body in those ten classes to the point where I was motivated to keep going to class. This coincided with my comeback to running after basically taking a year off. I had started out with running 2 miles a day in December of 2013 (which was hardddd after not running for forever/having been out of commission healthwise for awhile). Then I started Barre in January and went religiously. I did normal miles and not even that many fast ones, but started getting faster, really quickly. When Mountains 2 Beach Marathon came around, I qualified for the Boston Marathon and I knew that so much of it had to do with Barre and the balance that came with not solely running all the time. I did barre through Big Cottonwood Marathon. But then took time off after that race and basically became way too busy to get back to it. I started training for Boston and replaced barre with a second run of the day (you don’t get to 80 miles a week by just running once a day)- and I mean, we all know how that turned out- a Boston race where my physical performance and the weather of the day were pretty reflective of each other. Obviously devastated after Boston, I have been trying to figure out how to get back to normal. Part of that is just replicating what I did last year- so barre came back into the picture. I signed up again in May and that’s where I am now. Happy to be back and praying that this helps my body recover quicker from overtraining and provides the base strength needed to regain lost fitness and gain some new speed.
What exactly IS Barre?
It’s a mix of pilates, yoga, and a strength class- done at a barre- with really energizing music and lots of isolated repetitive motion to fatigue each individual muscle group. I usually pour sweat most classes – so it’s definitely not a chill lay on your back workout- but it’s not pounding on your body and too intense to supplement your running with. It’s broken up into 4 sections: 1. warmup- where you do arms and abs, 2. Legs, 3. Glutes, 4. Abs/stretching.
So what has Barre actually done for my running?
1. It’s helped to create balance. Literally & figuratively. As a runner who loves to (over)run, it’s a good way to get a second workout in in a day without just running my legs into the ground. It’s also amazing for working on your balance (helping to strengthen my ankles & core).
2. It’s given me a place to stretch. I was the WORST at stretching or being active in recovery/the extras your body needs. I never stretched, except for one stretch I do in the minute before a race starts where I bop down and stretch out my calves. Now, I have ten minutes or so of focused stretching that I do several times a week. My body CRAVES barre after a hard workout because it knows it will get a good stretch during it and get back on track quicker. It also encourages me to stretch outside of class, because I have learned how much I love stretching.
3. It’s helped me become so much more flexible. Runners are NOT known for their flexibility. At all. My first class at barre I hated it because of how inflexible I was. I am sooo much more flexible than I had been and have realized how much you can change your level of flexibility. My goal is to do the splits by the end of the year. Super random- but I know that being more flexible is always a good thing for athletes.
4. It’s strengthened my core. I did nothing. NOTHING. For my core before. It’s crazy how much it is supposed to help you in your running- yet so many runners don’t do anything to strengthen their core. Barre has around 15 minutes of the class just focused on abs/core and strengthening your back. While I’m still like 500 juice cleanses away from a 6 pack (or a 2 pack, whatever), I know that having a strong core will help create the base needed to give my running a chance to really improve.
5. It’s isolated & strengthened muscle groups associated with running – legs/glutes. We use legssss for running- so it makes sense to really strengthen them. The class focuses on small isometric movements to fatigue each leg muscle group and really tone them. It’s changed the shape of my legs and they get a lot stronger with these workouts.
6. It’s a super encouraging and positive environment where I am able to focus on just the workout that day. Running can be tough. Or let me rephrase that. I can be tough on myself while running. I love it so much- but it’s such a quantifiable hobby. What was your time at your last marathon? How did your long run go? These things are amazing- and I love being really goal-oriented and aiming for those big goals. But ya know, when things aren’t going smoothly and you’re not getting positive feedback from your running, sometimes it’s nice to have another workout that is just about the workout that day and completing it- and not thinking about how that workout/run factors into your time goals/etc. Basically, for any of us Type A runners who are ultra competitive, it’s nice to have a place where you get a great workout that supplements all the hard work you’re already doing, and where you feel like you are only receiving positive feedback from. Plus at my studio, all of the girls who teach and work there are amazing and it really is like a breath of fresh air to get to be around them on a daily basis.
So yahhhh, I definitely recommend barre for someone that always has the great intentions of stretching or doing ab work, but in reality never gets around to it. It forces you to do those extras that helps your running, and keeps you more consistent with it. I’m excited to see how it will continue to help my running. C’mon barre- you’re my comeback at Berlin hope! ;-) Just ten short days away...