Runners CAN do yoga!

I love running with people. I find it to be really beneficial and fun to delve into a more social side of running. I’m sure that it wouldn’t surprise you that on social runs, I often end up talking to people about yoga, but the conversation often goes something like this…

Runner: What do you do when you don’t run?

Me: I teach yoga.

Runner: I didn’t think runners could do yoga.

This conversation almost always sends me into a fit of rage. Of course runners can do yoga!! In fact, runners NEED yoga. Not only does it help stretch out overused and tight muscles, but the mental benefits are exactly what you need to get through the last few miles of a long run. Somehow, yoga got the rap that it is only for people who walk in ready to chill in full splits. It also got the rap of being something “extra”… not a workout, but this thing you sometimes do… like once a month… you know, if you have the time.

I promise you, consistent yoga will help your running.

This is not only because it will help keep you limber and less injury prone, but learning to quiet your mind is the only way you can beat the negative thoughts that ALL of us struggle with. Yoga teaches us about our bodies, our breath, and tendencies we might have in our thoughts. It also teaches us how to set an intension (and stick with it), it teaches us how to not fly off the handle when someone does something you don’t like, and it makes us strong. If you can do a handstand, you’ve got some serious core strength.

Check out her handstand! She is so strong!
Check out her handstand! She is so strong!

Sometimes I hear how runners probably can’t touch their toes, and that is why they can’t do yoga.

I have been running a lot longer than I have been doing yoga. I was a sprinter by the time I was 6 and I played soccer starting at 11. When I began my yoga practice (as a disgruntled adolescent that was going because their mom said they should), I could barely touch my knees. My hamstrings were like rocks. Over the years, my practice started to get more consistent and eventually, my palms were on the ground.

Standing head to knee pose took many years to build flexibility through consistency and perseverance in my yoga practice.
Standing head to knee pose took many years to build flexibility through consistency and perseverance in my yoga practice.

Am I now a better yogi because my hamstrings are loose? 

NO! Absolutely not. Nothing happened when I touched my toes, well, besides me touching my toes. No rainbows or unicorns appeared. I just touched them. No one high-fived me or threw a party. Maybe I look a little “prettier” (to Yoga Journal Magazine‘s standards) in some postures. I am, however, not “better at yoga” for it. I still lay in relaxation trying to quiet my mind, just like everyone else.

If I have not convinced you yet, here are some runner’s that practice yoga:

Scott Jurek
Shalane Flanagan
Kara Goucher
Lauren Fleshmen
Meb Kefkezighi

They practice for various reasons. Some are looking for the mental benefits, others are looking for strength and flexibility. Regardless, yoga can give you all of these things.

Elites are not the only ones! Here is a pretty awesome (AND FAST) blogger who has a beautiful yoga practice.

So, don’t let the negative talk win. All runners can do yoga. All runners should do yoga.

Reflections for Intensions

The end of the year is a perfect time to reflect on our accomplishments and growth over the past 12 months. As runners, we always try to compete with ourselves for that better time and longer distance and sometimes, it just doesn’t happen. Resolutions come in many forms, and may (or may not) be reachable in just a single year. Sometimes our goals can take an entire lifetime to achieve and those, quite honestly, are the best ones. It’s important that as we approach the end of the year, that our reflections lead to positive thoughts and actions towards ourselves and others.

One year ago, I was still recovering from my ankle injury (a full tear to my ATFL), which meant no running for me. I had always considered myself a runner, but I hadn’t even laced up the running shoes in over 6 months. My injury had sidelined my passion and I knew my fitness was suffering for it. My husband and I would go hiking and I would be struggling to keep up (to my defense, he goes really really fast!). I decided that I needed to get back to the trails and begin running again. I hadn’t raced in well over a year, but I felt confident that I could work my way back. My intention for 2014 was to run again, and in the process work up to a half marathon. Did I do it? …Well, kind of. I ran again. I raced again. But I didn’t run that half. In October, when I had intended to run a half, I felt an old injury resurface, and in great wisdom (and a whole lot of frustration), I decided to back off and push the half distance until 2015. So, here I am. I am training for that half and it feels right this time. No pains, no hickups. Maybe 2014 wasn’t the year of the half marathon for me, but it sure seems like 2015 will be.

Here are my 5 goals and intentions for the upcoming year:

1. Run a half marathon (actually, run like 3 or 4…but let’s start with 1)

2. Train in the mornings more often..for real this time

3. Confidently do forearm stands away from the wall (in class, while instructing people through it…haha!)

4. Practice gratitude and appreciation for what is here…always. No matter what life throws.

5. Clean my room once a month (this is a vast improvement over never…which is how often I clean it now)

This is me practicing forearm stand, confidently, in my running shoes, when I thought no one was watching.
This is me practicing forearm stand, confidently, in my running shoes, when I thought no one was watching. This is a rare occurrence for me. 

So as you approach the new year, what is it that you intend? Will you approach these goals with positivity even if they fall short? Take the new year as an opportunity. Be positive.

I’ll leave you with an affirmation as you reflect. 

Lead me from the unreal to the Real
Lead me from the darkness to the Light
Lead me from the temporary to the Eternal 

– Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 

Happy Holidays, everyone! Namaste. 🙂

Race Week Training Update!

We are now 68 days away from the A1A Half Marathon and I couldn’t feel better about that! Last week was great! I ran my long run (7 miles) with the Fleet Feet Trail Runners, which was awesome and the rest of my runs went pretty well, too. I did my long run on trail in a local county park to prepare me a little for my trail race next Saturday. This next week brings more snow and a busy schedule as the semester ends, so I’ll be squeezing my runs between tons of work.

The trail running group from this morning. We all had an awesome time!
The trail running group from this morning. We all had an awesome time! Photo was taken by one of the other runners named Erin.

In the past, I have had a considerable amount of trouble with my race day routine. My stomach will start to bother me, I don’t sleep well the night before or I feel compelled to drink way too much water (as if aid stations don’t exist). My goals for this race are to nail down a good morning race routine and to (hopefully) break one hour. My plan is to eat a piece of bread, an Luna energy bar, some coffee and some cliff gummies for breakfast. I’ll have to remind myself not to fill up too much on liquids.

Training this week:

Monday: 4 miles (nice and slow)

Tuesday: Yoga

Wednesday: Yoga + 5 miles (3 miles at half marathon pace)

Thursday: Yoga + 4 miles

Friday: Lots and lots of rest!!

Saturday: 6.2 Race!

Sunday: 2-3 mile slow recovery run

Total: 21 miles

So there you have it, another week in the books. Hopefully my training next week goes as well as this past week. Wish me luck on my race saturday, and as always, feel free to give any advice for race day nutrition. I’ll post an update after the race to let you know how I did!

My Comeback and Intention

As a runner, I often forget how useful my knowledge of yoga and anatomy can be to prevent injury. This became a big problem when I found myself sidelined for two weeks from IT band syndrome. I had been training hard for a trail race in Southern Indiana, but after the race I became enamored with running two half marathons a few weeks later. Instead of backing off and recovering from a very hilly trail race, I instead upped my training immediately, and injured myself in the process. Needless to say, the half marathons were off the table. I was barely able to bend my knee (so I was walking pretty funny). I gotta say though, everything I’ve ever learned in any yoga class should have helped me prevent this. You hear in classes about listening to your body (I didn’t) and not letting the ego get the best of you (oh, that so happened).  I learned a valuable lesson. Yoga is found both on the mat, off the mat, and in your training plan. Now I don’t mean yoga, like let’s touch our toes (although that helps too). I mean yoga, like set an intention to listen, be mindful and don’t let your ego dictate what your body does. Luckily, my lesson only required a two week hiatus from running. It could have been so much worse. So, during my current training cycle, my intention is non-harming. I listen to my body and make sure that I am doing what is best for it, regardless of what my ego may want.

Namaste 🙂

An intention of non-harming will get you to your goals, even if they are to climb mountains!
An intention of non-harming will get you to your goals, even if the goal is to climb mountains!