When I trained for and ran first marathon back in 2007/2008, I didn’t really know what I was doing. This is evident by the horrible IT Band issues I suffered. As a result, come race day my feet were left bloodied as I limped across the finish line.
Since then I have learned a ton about how to stay healthy when running all these miles. Today I will share one – Yoga. Yoga is excellent for runners, in my experience.
Strength – Runners need to cross-train so they can exercise muscles other than the ones they use when running. You don’t want to create any imbalances and luckily Yoga works out all the muscles. From toes to brain. In particular, it works the core, which you need to do everything from grabbing a jar from the cupboard, to running a marathon.
Flexibility (Letting go) – Most of us could use some more flexibility. Our muscles get tight, not only from running, but also from life. This can lead to injury. Yoga helps stretch us out. As one instructor put it, “We are not creating flexibility, we are letting go of tension.” Good way to think of it.
Breathing – Yoga is all about your breath. As one instructor told me, “Breath is life, without it there is no life.” Besides different breathing techniques, I’ve learned how important my breath is in yoga, and how many different parts of the breath there are. I apply it to my running – when things get tough, I try to calm my breath.
Endurance – Runners are supposed to have endurance, but I’m reminded each practice that we could always gain more. Tell me to run 5 miles, fine. Tell me to hold an up-on-toes chair pose for 45 seconds, we may have issues.
Mental – Runners are mentally tough, but yoga helps our wills get stronger. At a recent practice we were in a difficult pose and everyone was shaking and falling out of it. The instructor said, “When you lose your concentration, that’s when you fall.” This totally applies to running. Focus, Danielson!
In the Moment – To me, this is the hardest part. In yoga you’re supposed to stay in the moment. You’re not supposed to be thinking about what you’re going to do after class, your grocery list, etc. This helps me in running, when things get hard, I remember to take it one step at a time. You don’t want to be thinking how much further you have to go!
I’ve done yoga at different studios, gyms, living rooms, sporting goods stores, and even one time in a train station. I mentioned earlier how I’ve been going to Lululemon yoga sessions – well the other day I saw this written on the store window…
So there you have it, a quick overview of one of the ways I stay healthy for running – Yoga.
How bout you? Do you do yoga? For yourself or for running (or both)? Did my shoes/socks make you barf?
Couple of comments here: first, sweep the leg! Second, don’t you ever post a bloody sock pic again without putting a warning BEFORE the pic…I had food in my mouth. Third, I’ve only done yoga three times but plan on spending the next few months hitting all the downward dogs I can muster, because it is a wonderful complement to running (it was just hard to do for awhile with my PF!)