Most of you are long-time readers, and if you’ve been reading my training posts lately, you’ve noticed something new: Lots of yoga.
In 2012, I started attending Teresa’s Wednesday night yoga class at McLeod Health and Fitness in Florence. At the time, I was dealing with a hip issue (probably piriformis related) and yoga seemed to help the niggles.
I coached Florence Track Club as a volunteer and ran three times a week, focusing on cross training and yoga to fill in the gaps. Since I was coaching, Clay was going to school and working full time, and I wasn’t 100% healthy, I didn’t focus so much on improving as a runner and ran for fun and fellowship.
Through yoga, I found relief from my hip and back pain, but I also found so much more- a supportive community of Florence yogis. They even threw a goodbye party for me when I moved to Charleston.
Seeing the different yoga made for me, I kept practicing when I moved to Charleston. I found a few classes and teachers I liked and attended class every week. However, with teachers leaving and going to other gyms or studios, studios closing, and local gyms phasing yoga classes out, I frequently took yoga breaks. Every time I found a teacher I liked and stuck with a class for a few months, that teacher would move on to another studio or the globo-gym would cancel the class.
I also amped up my running, and when you only have so many hours in a day, something has to go. Often, that was yoga.
When I injured my knee in November, I knew my immediate race plans for the Lexington Half Marathon and Charleston Marathon were out of the picture. Since I couldn’t run, I cross trained and got back to yoga. It helped that a new studio, Soul Yoga and Wellness, opened near my home, and that Clay’s BJJ/MMA gym opened a small yoga studio, Ashley River Yoga. Clay does yoga as well, and it’s great to share a hobby with him.
I also met Kelly through Charleston Beer Runners and started attending her BodyFlow class at my gym. While BodyFlow is not yoga (it’s a blend of yoga, pilates, and tai chi), I found similar cross training benefits, including open hips, flexible ankles, and a stronger core. Kelly is proof that you can be an excellent yoga and barre teacher while balancing running.
Many runners ignore yoga. You might not sweat a lot, and your heart rate probably won’t go out the roof. While it’s not a cardiovascular activity, I find the classes like Yin yoga, which involve little moving and holding poses for minutes at a time, are the hardest ones.
The mental toughness I get from holding pigeon pose for 3 minutes will pay off in the end of a race when I need that mental edge. Yoga’s helped my ITBS pain, allowed me to visualize my races (and race success), and gave me the freedom to chill. When I couldn’t run, I loved experiencing those little successful moments in yoga- such as my heels finally touching the ground in downward facing dog.
As a runner, I concede that yoga and cross training are no substitute for mileage, and for running success, you have to put in the work on the roads. I believe in the trial of miles, but I cannot train to be a successful runner without yoga. For me, it’s here to stay!