Parallels Between Dancing and Running

Yesterday the Runner’s World website featured an article about Joffrey Ballet dancer Fabrice Calmels.  Joffrey Ballet is to the dance world as Nike and Bart Yasso are to the running world.  You hear Joffrey, or any of the other highly acclaimed dance companies around the world, and immediately think about the amazing dancers that train for hours on end to perfect performances that many of us enjoy each year.

Joffrey Ballet dancer Fabrice Calmels took up running as a way to improve his dance abilities both in the studio and on stage. Photo Credit: Runner's World

Joffrey Ballet dancer Fabrice Calmels took up running as a way to improve his dance abilities both in the studio and on stage.
Photo Credit: Runner’s World

For awhile now I’ve been thinking about the parallels between dancing, my “old” fitness world and running, my “new” fitness world.  Both of these sports are individual sports.  Yes, while dancers often are part of a larger production, and many of the world’s most renowned dancers start their careers as part of a company cast instead of being cast as a soloist, they both require individual training, focus, and attention to detail.  Unlike in team sports, a teammate cannot pick up your slack if you decide to let your training fall to the wayside.  And I think that’s part of what made transitioning from dancing to running somewhat seamless; I had nobody to hold me accountable for my training but myself.

There are numerous other parallels between dancing and running.  Some of the parallels that stand out to me most include:

1.  You have to dedicate time in order to improve your abilities.

Sure, there are those people who can just jump off the couch and sprint through a race without any training or prior experience.  Same goes for those with natural dancer’s bodies.  I, like many others, am not one of those people.  My running has taken time and effort in order to make slow improvements.  When I danced, I never once was able to perfect the choreography the first time it was taught to me.  In both sports, time has allowed me the opportunity to make improvements and perfect my athletic abilities.

2.  Practice makes perfect.

As a dancer, I had to invest hours on end to rehearsals, and by the time I was a sophomore in high school I was dancing up to seven days a week.  Both sports require commitment and focus in order to achieve goals.  As a runner, I follow a training plan in order to help keep myself accountable and to improve my running.  If I decide to miss many runs then ultimately I’m depriving my body of the ability to improve its form and speed.

3.  You have to commit to and follow through on what you set your mind on accomplishing.

As a runner, I use races as my focus for my training.  Without being registered for races, I find that I lack the enthusiasm and focus necessary to stick to and execute a training plan.  Many dancers often strive to audition for and earn the right to perform a certain role, and without practice and dedication to the sport its nearly impossible to secure dream roles.

Wearing one of my many Nutcracker tutus

Wearing one of my many Nutcracker tutus

4.  Stretching ultimately leads to improved performance.

In both sports, stretching allows the body to ultimately perform at its greatest ability and to aide in recovery after an intense workout.  As a dancer, stretching on a regular basis meant that I could get my leg just a tad bit higher or hold a position just a tad bit longer.  As a runner, stretching allows me to run with better form and aides in increasing my speed.

5.  Both sports require that you build your endurance.

As a runner, the more endurance you build up the longer your run intervals can be (if you run using run-walk intervals), or the further the distance you can run.  As a dancer, the more endurance you build the more jump sequences you can perform in a row, or the longer you can perform a piece before your body ultimately needs a rest break.

6.  The runner’s high and the dancer’s high are ultimately the same feeling.

There’s no greater feeling than crossing the finish line of a race or perfecting a piece of choreography during a performance that you’ve spent hours practicing.  And those are feelings of accomplishment that nobody can take away from you.

Crossing the finish line of my first half marathon was one of the most amazing feelings of accomplishment that I've ever felt! Photo Credit: MarathonFoto

Crossing the finish line of my first half marathon was one of the most amazing feelings of accomplishment that I’ve ever felt!
Photo Credit: MarathonFoto

7.  Both running and dancing are mental sports.

They both require focus and dedication.  With both sports that little voice in the back of your head can easily talk you out of your ability to push yourself to run faster or to practice a jump or a turn one more time.  And with both sports, its about the athlete knocking down that mental barrier in order to seek improvement.

QOTD: What parallels do you see between running and other sports?

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19 Responses to Parallels Between Dancing and Running

  1. Kristin says:

    This is a great post!! I was a dancer and gymnast growing up, so I love your parallels. Great!!

  2. Cool parallels between the two. I find parallels between studying an instrument intensively and running.

  3. Before running I was a gymnast ( many years ago). I see lots of the same similarities you’ve mentioned! Especially the Runner’s/ Dancer’s high!

  4. Awesome! I danced a little when I was growing up too!

  5. So true about the endurance! For both sports you have to have some serious stamina!

  6. hellyfast says:

    I think sports in general require discipline. That’s something I’m continuously working on 🙂

  7. Olive to Run says:

    I was a dancer in high school for two years and I loved reading this 🙂

  8. Jennifer says:

    Great post Kathryn! Was looking forward to what you were going to write! I swam growing up- several parallels between swimming and running, particularly goal setting and continuously challenging yourself to improve.

  9. Too funny the first thing I thought of when I saw this on Twitter was you! 🙂 LOL!

  10. Pingback: The World Is My Stage | From Dancing to Running

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