A few years ago I had the pleasure of sitting in on a presentation with the author of Yoga for Runners, Christine Felstead. Christine spoke about the safeguards of yoga and the role yoga plays with preventing running injuries. Back then I was new to running and hadn’t realized the importance of the two combined and had focused my energy on building up my stamina. However, now reflecting back, I can’t imagine one without the other and how beneficial practicing yoga has been for my half marathon training.
Running is very repetitive, as it is one constant motion for miles upon miles. This can cause tightness in the leg muscles, sore knees, tight hips and hamstrings. Muscles become shorter and tighter, which makes the body unstable and ends up putting more pressure on joints, bones, and muscles. In the past “pre-yoga”, I had experienced this tightness which led to knee pain whenever I was running longer distances. It was frustrating and a major roadblock to pushing myself further. I knew I had to do something to compensate if I wanted to continue running. Since then, practicing yoga has helped loosen and lengthen my muscles making my body more flexible and resilient to injury (no knee pain!!). I have noticed that my body is more stable and my runs are stronger, making running even more enjoyable.
Not only has yoga improved my strength and flexibility, but it has also been instrumental in my mental focus and breathing. Mindfulness and being in the present moment during each run has carried me distances when my legs were ready to give up. My breathing practiced in yoga has harmonized with my running routine, breathing more strong and consistent and allowing myself to push that extra mile.
Post run yoga sessions are essential for me at this point. Nothing feels better after a long run than a good stretch and taking the time to thank my body for pushing through the miles. Here are some poses you can try at home.