Yoga + Running

Hi Everyone! I’m excited to be over here hanging out at Running with Sass today while Heather is in Florida for the Princess Half Marathon (although I am totally jealous and wish I was there!).

Today I wanted to share with you a little bit about my love for yoga and how it’s really benefited my running.

I ran my first marathon a little over a year ago after just 8 months of running. I didn’t know much about running, training or incorporating cross training into my program at all, I basically downloaded the recommended training plan, put on some sneakers and ran with nothing more than the goal of finishing 26.2 miles.

My training went great…up to 16 miles. That’s when everything would start to fall apart. As soon as I got over 16 miles it felt like someone was stabbing me in the butt (which I later learned was a muscle called the piriformis) and every step felt like I was landing on broken glass. I even called my husband towards the end of my 20 mile run crying telling him I didn’t think I could do this and I didn’t even want to go to the race, I was in too much pain and I’d rather not go than not finish.

Well, I DID go, and I DID finish. My feet hurt and I was sore for days, but I knew the second I crossed the finish line that despite the pain, it wasn’t my last marathon.

Marathon Finish

Fall of 2012 brought a lot of changes for me, I left my job to go back to school, I was starting yoga teacher training and it was time to start training for not only my 2nd marathon, but this time I was taking on the Walt Disney World Goofy Race and a Half Challenge (that’s the half marathon Saturday and the full marathon on Sunday, and just for fun I threw in the 5k on Friday!).

I worried about the long runs after what I had experienced last year, and this time I had to do back-to-back long runs to be ready to run a half and full marathon on back-to-back days. AND on top of that, I was really concerned about the effect that 3-4 vinyasa yoga classes a week would have on my running…would my legs be too tired? Would they be sore after a hard class? Would I have the time to fit in the yoga AND my runs??

Well, by the time I crossed my last finish line of Marathon Weekend I was without a doubt convinced that my yoga teacher training and Goofy Challenge training overlapping was the best thing that could have happened!

I’ll plead my case with a few specific things that really demonstrate the amazing effect that yoga had on my running:

1) My Massage Therapist – I LOVE getting massages (it’s totally my guilty pleasure!). Last year during marathon training my massage therapist was fantastic at really working out my legs and targeting that piriformis muscle that was always tight. This year I went for a massage a few days after one of my 18 mile runs and he actually asked me if I was still running! He said that my leg muscles were so loose he assumed I had stopped!

2) Pigeon Pose – I have a love/ hate relationship with pigeon pose. I used to dread when we got to it in yoga, it was awkward and uncomfortable and I was convinced human legs and hips shouldn’t be contorted into that position (and that’s coming from a very flexible person!). I always used a block to prop my hip up because there was no way I was getting any deeper into the pose…but little by little as my training went on I noticed it wasn’t so uncomfortable any more…and then one day I swapped out the block for a blanket…and then a few weeks later I went from the blanket to my hip coming all the way down to the floor! Guess what muscle that pose targets?!?! Piriformis! It was amazing to actually be able to see the progression of it loosening up! Now no yoga practice feels complete without pigeon!

Pigeon Pose 1

3) When it came time for my 20 mile run this year I mentally prepared myself for the pain, I knew what was coming and I was ready for it. I got past 16 miles and waited for the pain to come…but it didn’t! I got to 18, 19, 20…got to my house and kept going! This time I called my husband and happily told him I’d be a little later than he was expecting, I was going to do a few extra miles!

As I ran those extra miles I began to think about my training this time around and realized that I really hadn’t been experiencing the same aches, pains and soreness I had last year. My foam roller wasn’t getting used quite as much (although it still did get a lot of love!), I didn’t carry around a golf ball to roll the arches of my feet on, and my body didn’t need as many rest days after my long runs. The difference? All the yoga I had been doing!

I finished the Goofy Race and a Half Challenge feeling great and not experiencing any soreness at all!

Goofy Medal Pic Danielle

I even stopped and did some pushups with the green army guys at mile 21!

Marathon Pushups

Because of my experience, I am a true believer of the benefits of yoga for runners and love to be able to share them with others now that I am a certified yoga instructor!

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Thanks Danielle! Danielle blogs at Live Run Grow, be sure to stop by her blog and say hello!

QOTD: If you run do you find yoga helps you? Even if you aren’t a runner do you like yoga?

Comments

  1. I love yoga! I agree with you, since I’ve started doing yoga I feel more flexible and less pain! Great post!

  2. I am a HUGE fan of yoga for runners! I think it can help counter balance a lot of problems runners have–problems with tight hips, problems with weak stabilizing muscles, etc. I think I’d like to do yoga teacher training someday and offer yoga classes for runners so more of us can learn about how yoga can be such a huge benefit to your running.

  3. I’m going to have to try yoga again for my running!

  4. Wow, a coincidence this was posted today? I was sooo tired yesterday I skipped my run and did some PM yoga at home. I haven’t been good at keeping up with yoga lately and I certainly felt it in my muscles.

  5. I love the pigeon pose! I’ve recently gotten into yoga and I couldn’t agree with you more. It totally prepares my mind for running long distances by myself too!

  6. I used to do yoga on a pretty frequent basis but got away from it for a while now. I really do need to get back into it as I have the same preformis issues too.
    Great post and good to meet a fellow Goofy Challenge particpant, can’t wait to check out your blog.

    • Thanks! Definitely give it a try, it REALLY helped my piriformis issues. I actually have a few poses posted on my blog under “Yoga for Runners” that may help! – Danielle

  7. I used to do yoga a few times a week and I felt great! Unfortunately I haven’t made time for it in the past few years and my flexibility has suffered. Thanks for the reminder about all the benefits youga brings to runners!

  8. This is quite possibly the best combo ever… I have been running 3-4 times a week and taking a yoga class immediately after. I can actually touch my toes now!

    I recommend joining a gym that offers free classes. That way you can treadmill it up on rainy days and hit up a class before or after.

  9. I just tried my first yoga for runners class this week and loved it, I felt so much looser after. I’m going to stick with it.

  10. Yeah! So glad to hear that! Let me know if you have any questions, I’d be happy to help!

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