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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Barre and Running: The Perfect Pairing

Tuck. Squeeze. Pulse. Plié.

If you've ever taken a barre class, you know that these small movements can set your muscles on fire! And make them shake wildly, which I've learned, is a good thing.

Barre ignites those deep, stabilizing muscles throughout your body, many of which in my case, were sound asleep. Never mind that I can run for several hours—one hour of barre pretty much kicks my butt every time.

In January, I started taking barre—a blend of yoga, Pilates and ballet—because I wanted to get stronger. Or more precisely, run stronger. Last fall, I missed qualifying for Boston by a few minutes so I’m planning to try again in June. I’ll need all the strength I can get.

The good news is, after sweating and quivering at the barre for a couple of months now, I’m starting to see results on the trail, which is really encouraging. My legs feel springier. My calves and feet feel stronger (all those relevés). And it seems as though I’ve cured my gluteal amnesia or sleepy glutes, which I hope will help to prevent some of the issues that have nagged me in the past, namely IT band flare ups. A stronger butt = stronger running, right?

One thing I didn't expect from barre was how much it would challenge my arms. Often after class, they are so fatigued I can hardly hold them up to my laptop. I seriously need props.

But as tough as barre is, I absolutely love it and continue to be inspired by the barre badassery of the instructors and other women in the classes. And weirdly, I've started to crave the barre burn, perhaps because that fire generates new growth. 

I am so grateful to Christa Scheer who opened Hood River Barre last summer. If you'd like to learn more about barre and her fabulous new studio, check out the story I wrote for the spring issue of The Gorge Magazine, on stands now (in The Gorge, Portland, Seattle, and beyond).