While in double-pigeon pose this morning at 90-minute Hot Yoga, I realized there is a strong correlation between the quality of my running and how often I go to yoga.
A case study…
During the peak of training for the Spinx Marathon during September and October, I ran an average of 30.125 miles a week over 8 weeks. I also went to yoga 15 times over 8 weeks, an average of 1.875 times a week. I didn’t suffer any memorable injuries or tweaks during training, and I finished the race in 4:22 – a 32 minute personal record.
Currently, I am training for the National Half Marathon in DC (it’s in two weeks!). Over the last 9 weeks, I ran an average of 16.4 miles a week. I only went to yoga 6 times, an average of 0.666 times a week. I’ve had two minor injuries that sidelined me for an entire week and 3 days (so far).
So, let’s review, shall we?:
- Ran twice as far a week during marathon training;
- Did more than twice as much yoga during marathon training;
- Set a 32-minute personal record during the marathon;
- Suffered twice as many injuries during half marathon training. Fail.
In summary, today I realized that I really CANNOT slack on yoga if I want to be a happy, healthy runner. I like yoga a lot and have a year-long membership to a studio… I just have trouble sticking to the habit for more than a few months at a time. Life gets in the way; I begin to slack. Three times a week drops to once a week, then a week goes by in between sessions… than two weeks. But I continue running, so my muscles get tight and taunt, and then I get injured. You get the point.
But thanks to my detailed training logs, I’ve come to the realization that YOGA IS A MUST! So please hold me to it if I start to slack off in two months! 🙂
Some yoga positions were just *made* for runners! Here are my favorite moves:
Warrior I and Warrior II: I love Warrior I and II because I feel so powerful when I do these poses. But they are also great poses for stretching and strengthening the chest, thighs, calves, feet, arms, shoulders and neck, belly, and the muscles of the back. Basically, everything that hurts after running. ;) Here’s how to do Warrior I and Warrior II.
Happy Baby: A major reason why I like this pose is the funny and cute name. I really do feel like a Happy Baby in this gentle hip-opener. I like to rock side to side in this pose! Here’s how to do Happy Baby.
Extended Side Angle: I like this move because it’s both a stretcher and a strengther (like so many awesome yoga poses). I can literally feel the muscles around my knee getting stronger when I do this move. Here’s how to do Extended Side Angle. You can also revolve your side angle (twist to the other side) and do a prayer twist.
Pigeon: Pigeon is a great move for opening your hips and the tricky psoas muscle. You stay in this position for several minutes, and eventually, everything releases. Here’s how to do Pigeon.
Savasana: Because sometimes it feels awesome to lie completely still and not use a single muscle. ;) Here’s how to do Savasana.
If you want to learn how to do yoga, you can check out a studio (just call and ask which class is the introductory one). I felt very shy and nervous the first time that I went to yoga, but really – no one is judging newbies, especially in an introductory class. They will go very, very slowly, and it’s totally okay to look like you don’t know what you’re doing. I’ve been practicing semi-regularly for years and still don’t know many poses by heart! So just look around at other people, listen to the teacher’s directions, and raise your hand if you have a question.
If you would rather stay at home, you can learn more yoga moves from yogadownload.com, Dave Farmer, or yogajournal.com. There are tons of great yoga DVDs (maybe you all can recommend you favorites in the comments section), too!
I think studios are good because I have trouble getting all ‘namaste’ and dedicating myself to a longer practice when I’m at home or alone. Some people transform a spare bedroom into a little zen area with a yoga mat, candles, and music, which I would imagine works well!
Runner’s World also has a good yoga section.
Do you think yoga does a body good? Or do prefer another form of stretching? Were you nervous to attend your first yoga class? What tips do you have for new yogis? What poses are your favorite?