Training and Running with Jess McMillan

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This week I had the good fortune to run and train with my friend Jess McMillan.  Jess is one of Jackson Hole’s pro-skiers,  Pilates instructor and overall super mountain athlete.  She has been a great support this summer as I’ve been stepping up my running program with Eric Orton.  We hit the trails and also spent time in her Pilates studio to chat about what it takes to be an athlete.

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AC: In Eric Orton’s book he talks a lot of awareness.  What does that mean to you as an athlete and Pilates instructor?

JM: Awareness is such a complex idea:  awareness of your body, how are you feeling today.  Awareness of how your body is moving: what muscles are you using, where are you placing your foot each stride, are you using your core or your back, are you moving efficiently.  Pilates focuses on proper muscles recruitment and engagement.  If the body is using the appropriate muscle for the intended movement, then it is working efficiently.  Every movement from running to skiing to standing should be efficient.

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AC: Foot strength is super important for proper running form.  How does Pilates help foot strength and overall muscle balance?

JM: Your feet are your foundation for the entire body.  If you foundation is weak or wobbly, the rest of the house is going to have cracks and worse case scenario, your house comes crashing down aka injury.  Pilates focuses on foot alignment, articulation of the foot and ankle joint, as well as strength.  A lot of skiers complain about sore feet and ankles in the spring.  After spending all season in ski boots, many of the muscles in the feet and ankles have weekend and lost range of motion.  It is as important to get your feet back in shape as it is for the rest of the body.  This includes stretching, strength, and articulation.

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AC: What are a few tips you’d give to folks looking to step up their training, and take a sport to the next level – either running, skiing, or other adventure sports?  

JM: Body awareness is one of the greatest advantages in stepping up your game.  A few questions to ask yourself, is my body ready to step up my game whether it is running longer distances or jumping off a cliff.  Is your body ready for the added impact and abuse required for the next level.  If the answer is yes, then the next question is are you mentally ready for the next level?  It will require more mental strength to push yourself physically.  As well as more mental awareness as push to the next level.  It is up to you to make sure that you are keeping your body strong and healthy as you push it harder.  The body should be treated like a prize possession making sure to do everything you can to make it run efficiently.

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