RUNITY: How a conditioning program helped me finally Learn to Run


Every spring there was this voice in my head that said, “I need to get in shape, maybe I should start running.”  Yes, I was really good at Pilates, but I had enough knowledge to know that there is more to fitness than just Pilates.  Countless times I googled a couch to 5k training program, printed out a schedule and then I went “running.” After which came the disheartening bright red face, loss of oxygen and the feeling that my heart was going to explode.  This of course would be the end of my running career for that particular season. In other springs, I was able to push through the heart exploding phase of cardiovascular training and would feel like maybe I was in a little bit better shape, and then inevitably my knee would start hurting, or my hip would ache naggingly, and thus another season would go by the way side because running “hurt” me.  To explain it all I sometimes told myself, “I hate to run.” “I’m not built like a runner.” “I like hiking better anyway.” When in reality I wanted to run and I just couldn’t figure out how…I was the perpetual red faced, heart exploding, novice.  I didn’t realize that I needed to learn to run.

Then comes RUNITY a program that helped me learn to run

At a Polestar Pilates educator meeting I met Juan Nieto and Blas Chamorro.  They are the Polestar Educators from Spain and they have developed RUNITY, a conditioning program that prepares the body to accept added load from the pavement in a safe and dare I say it, “fun” way.  They emphasized the joy in running along with the conditioning of the body that is necessary to remain safe.  RUNITY’s movement assessment succinctly explained the knee pain that I experienced every time I started to run and helped me create a very targeted conditioning program that taught my body how to control the mobility in my hip so that my knee didn’t have to deal with quite so much.  You may wonder, “umm Katrina aren’t you a Pilates Instructor? Don’t you help people with knee pain all of the time???” This is what my own inner judgey voice was saying.  My favorite improv teacher Pam Victor named that voice Calvin. You should check out her website too!  The RUNITY conditioning exercises added a certain depth to my Pilates practice.  Yes as a Pilates Instructor I understood hip mobility and control, and in a very careful and controlled environment I was quite adept at working with this concept, but RUNITY went a step further.  It gave more opportunity for the body to develop adapted strategies specific to easeful running.

I was throwing kettlebells around, I was training my brain as much as I was strengthening and increasing the flexibility of my body.  I was progressing onto new and more challenging movements.  I found that to learn to run was just the beginning. This program led to hope, maybe just maybe I didn’t have to “hate” running.  Maybe I could even be one of those folks that went running for the sheer joy of it instead of the sheer should of it.  Maybe I might be that person that runs through the winter because I even like it when it’s cold. I found that with RUNITY you don’t run to get in shape, you get in shape to run.

So What does “get in shape to run” mean?

When we think about running, we don’t think about the load that moves through the body with each step.    We don’t think of the power of the ground force multiplied by our body weight as a force that is moving through all of our joints, and we often don’t realize that if we are not running efficiently the sheer forces may move through the tissues in a way that causes inflammation…(I like to think of this as grumpy tissues) If however we create ease through our posture and strength through our joints with conditioning exercises that also focus on motor control, the body will be able to accept the additional load efficiently.  For me personally, this turned running into the endorphin creating good time instead of the limp inducing nagging knee, and that made all of the difference.

Learn to Run with us!

If this story resonated with you at all, check out the Learn to Run program at the Pilates Studio.  Nate and I will begin our first series on April 29…Just at the moment when the spring inspires the voices in our head.