Jessica Hofheimer: Cross-Training Lengthens My Running Life

"Pilates truly changed my life," writes Jessica Hofheimer. Photo: Jessica Hofheimer

I want to grow old, as youthfully as possible. To be running and moving and laughing and playing and dreaming until I’m 110 (or, hey why not longer!).

When I think about my running and about my running goals and dreams, they are always deeply connected to the bigger picture of what I want my whole life to feel like—who and how I want to be in this world.

I have big dreams of running fast and far and for as long as possible. To have the strength to push that way though, I know that I need to be smart and take care of my body in a holistic way. This involves recovery and easy days, rest days and sometimes whole weeks or months of easier or no running, proper nutrition and hydration, getting enough sleep, and managing my life’s stresses in such a way that allows me to achieve balance and peace of mind. It also involves doing activities other than running—to continue to move but not always stress the same joints and muscles. It requires strengthening and stretching and doing specific exercises to correct my body’s imbalances and improper movement patterns.

In order to do what we love, we have to show our bodies love in other areas—to take care of ourselves from the inside out means being dedicated to all of the little things. They matter a whole lot!

Over the last few years as I have gotten more serious about my running, I have also gotten more serious about what I do when I’m not running. Pilates truly changed my life by helping me connect with my inner strength and become aware of how I move my body. I practice Pilates in some way every single day—committing myself to a minimum of 5 minutes daily. I literally set the timer on my phone and dedicate myself to those 5 minutes. It is not a lot of time—but I feel like it makes a huge difference for me. I can’t afford private sessions weekly (I wish I could!) but I take two classes a week in addition to my 5-minute minimum and every few months I try to get in a private lesson.

Other forms of cross training that I love are strength training (not too heavy and focusing on running-appropriate exercises), swimming, yoga and spinning. My ideal is to do two of these activities each week—and at the beginning of the week I usually look at my calendar and schedule it in for myself. This holds me accountable and helps me stick to it! I really feel a difference in my body and spirit when things aren’t balanced. It’s a work in progress always, and is hard to plan logistically sometimes, but it is always worth it!

For more on the Saucony 26 Strong program, which pairs up 13 coaches with 13 marathon rookies, visit 26Strong.com.

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