how yoga made me a better runner

This post is written as a part of my Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon guest blogging duties.

If you’re new to this blog, there are a few things you should know:

  1. These days, I’m more yogi than runner.
  2. With that, you should know I’m more “run/walker” than runner.
  3. Above all that, I’m more of a #crazydoglady than dog walker.

That said, I still dabble (and sometimes train for a 10K that is happening in Cleveland on May 19) in my old standby activity of running. When the cold Cleveland winter finally breaks, there’s nothing quite like that first run in the crisp, Spring air.

So with the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon races just a bit over five weeks away, I got to thinking how yoga and running combine in my life and how many of my favorite things about my other favorite activity has filter into one heck of a cardio workout.

Yoga has provided balance in my running.

I learned how to utilize some of my favorite yoga poses – the standing poses of the warrior variety, the forward folds and some of my not-so-favorite (I’m looking at you, half pigeon) - to open my body before and after running.

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Warrior 1 FTW.

For me, the best post-run cool down is a handful of Sun Salutations. This series of poses let’s you tap into every range of motion you have while you shake out all the kinks you might have built up during that run. That balance is also is vice versa as running gives balance to my yoga. Post-yoga session, I’ve been known to come home, grab the fuzz pup, and head out into our neighborhood to shake out the energy I built on my mat.

Yoga has made me patient with myself.

I previously run a bunch of races, including two half marathons, a 10K and 5Ks. Okay, the word “run” is questionable – better might be “run/walk”. In that right, I am not a “traditional” runner.  I’m pretty sure I’ll never be. And that’s okay – but it took me awhile to be okay with it. Many people think “oh, well, you’re taking a break, you’re easing up.”  I would easily get discouraged when I saw others going to town at an “easy” 8 minute pace.

That patience came easier after I started regularly taking yoga classes. You don’t automatically drop into the splits if you have tight hamstrings. It takes time to slowly lengthen and stretch those muscles – just like it takes time to build up to a steady running pace.  It takes patience, regular practice and understanding to know that if you stick with the plan, you’ll gain success.

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Utthita Hasta Padangustasana. Easier to do than to say.

Yoga has helped me remember that “all roads lead to home”.

One of the texts that yogis around the world read is the Bhagavad Gita. In it is one verse that has stuck with me that went very loosely translated equates to “all roads lead to home”.  As the saying goes, we all know it’s about the journey and not the destination, but when you’re running a l-o-n-g race, getting to the finish line is sometimes all you can think of!

This bit of yogi goodness – as well as some other mantras and chants – frequently pop into my head while chugging along on the pavement. Those teachings help keep me focused on the task at hand. And let’s face it: sometime running is more mental than it is physically. You can do anything for several miles!

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Interested in running CLE with me and the rest of the guest and official bloggers? Register at the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon website today!  I’m running the 10K, and Hans and my brother are both running the half marathon. We’re going to have a blast on May 19th!

What’s your counter activity to your running habit? What lessons has either taught you?

Disclosure: I am serving as a guest blogger for the 2013 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

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11 comments

  1. susan says:

    I hate to say this, but I’m falling in love with Pigeon pose… I never thought I’d say that. I also never think to stretch before a run/walk (Which I also do, and think there’s nothing wrong with it! ;) ).

    Yoga is so special and as I’m learning, so much more than the asanas. Teaching patience and acceptance of where we are with our bodies right now is so important in life, not just for running.

    Good luck with the 10K :) I can’t wait to read how it goes!

  2. Jess says:

    Substitute ‘barre’ for ‘yoga’ and I’m RIGHT there with ya, sista. I’ve learned so much about my body through barre and it’s totally carried over into my running, not only making me a stronger, more balanced (and injury free!) runner, but a more patient and centered runner who thoroughly enjoys finding that mind/body connection while hitting the pavement. The BEST complement to running, I do believe (barre or yoga, actually). Love this — wish I could run that half with you!

  3. Sarah says:

    Great post Alicia! I used to do yoga (like 6 years ago) but never really felt like it did anything for me. I tried various classes for over a year and couldn’t really find my niche. Maybe I didn’t have a good yogi to teach me like yourself. I’m fully a runner now, but do life once or twice a week as well. I find that it helps my running and definitely helps build different muscles.

  4. Christine @ Love, Life, Surf says:

    Such a great post Alicia and I totally agree with your insights. Aside from providing a good balance to running and other activities, yoga has really helped me become more patient with myself and to be more forgiving of myself and my body.

  5. Sarah @ Cooker Girl says:

    Recently the studio I attend started offering a yoga class geared toward runners and athletes. Even in regular classes it’s not unusual to have a teenage athlete practicing with us because his coach sent him.

  6. Beth @ CraveableCleveland says:

    Well, I am no where near your level of yogi skill but I totally agree with this post! Some of the really deep stretch yoga poses are so juicy after a long run, it’s hard to not crave a good yoga class following a good (or bad!) run :) .

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