Yoga + Running = <3

This morning, a fellow mom friend in one of my healthy living Facebook groups posed a question. She is about to start training for her first half marathon and was wondering what sort of activities those of us who had already gone that distance and farther used as a cross train while we prepared for our own races. I was tagged in the post by a couple of different people, not because I’m some sort of half marathon training super-guru, but because yoga came up and I’m the biggest yoga-holic that many of my friends know. My answer to pretty much everything is always “yoga”. Something hurts? Do yoga. You have anxiety? Yoga. Digestive issues? Yoga. Your toddler just drew on the television and the wall with her crayons? YOGA YOGA YOGA.

But it’s true.

I have been practicing yoga since 2008. I started out with a regular hatha class offered by my gym and quickly branched out to Bikram and any other kind of hot class I could get myself into. The hotter the better because I love to sweat. Is that gross? Maybe a little.

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I kept going with my regular practice until my belly started to really get in the way and even the modifications weren’t helping. Then I switched over to prenatal, which I LOVED and still sing the praises of to every pregnant woman I know. I had a c-section and was back to doing gentle yoga 3 weeks later. Obviously I do not recommend that everyone do this. I had the blessing of my OB.

I credit yoga with helping me bounce back from a pregnancy where…let’s be honest here…I became terrifyingly huge. I had a laundry list of aches and pains in my back and hips as my body readjusted post-pregnancy and I saw a chiropractor for awhile and made very little – if any – progress. I did not start to feel any real relief until I went back to Bikram class.

Fast forward to earlier this year and I decided I wanted to run. In the beginning I didn’t know what a cross train was or that some of the injuries runners sustain could possibly be avoided by adding more cross training to their routine. I didn’t even realize at the time how much all the yoga I was doing was helping me. All I knew is that even as my distances became longer, I was rarely sore. The day after my first half marathon I went to my hot vinyasa class and the day after that I ran a 10K. I’ve never iced my legs. I have a foam roller that was collecting dust until my toddler claimed it as her own. She likes to kick it around the living room like a soccer ball, yelling “I KICK!”

I credit yoga with all of this. Think about it:

When your feet pound the pavement (or treadmill or trail or whatever), your muscles are going to tighten and shorten up. So doesn’t it make really good sense to work on elongating and loosening up those same muscles? A regular yoga practice can improve your balance, range of motion, and even affect the way that you breathe when you go out for a run. This is probably why I don’t feel like I’m going to keel over from lack of oxygen now whereas every attempt at running I made prior to 2008 had me diagnosing myself with non-existent asthma. I also use it for my strength training. I am not a fan of lifting weights and prefer to use my own body weight. All those planks and chaturangas that I do in a yoga class have done wonders for my core and arm strength. And there is not a better upper body workout around than aerial yoga. I could never climb the rope in gym class as a kid, but I bet I could now.

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Those are trapeze silks and if it looks fun to you, it’s because IT IS. About half the class is spent inverted and I always feel taller when I leave. If you can find a class to attend, I highly recommend it.

Sometimes I feel like I might be a little yoga-obnoxious, but of all the people I have suggested it to I have never had someone come back to me saying that it hasn’t helped them in some way. It is (in my humble opinion) the most well-rounded cross train that a runner can try and with the added bonus of INNER PEACE as well. You can’t get that just anywhere.

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What is your favorite way to cross train?

~ Salt

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4 thoughts on “Yoga + Running = <3

  1. Sara @ lifebetweenthemiles says:

    I completely agree! I have been doing yoga now for a few months and while I still can’t breathe correctly, I feel it has helped my running TREMENDOUSLY. I absolutely love hot yoga (I’m running off to a lunch class now) and I am in search of a aerial class near me bc it looks like so much fun (thanks for the recommendation!)

  2. Andrea says:

    I take boot camp classes three times a week and they have helped a lot. I haven’t had any overuse injuries since I started the classes and I took 9 minutes off my half marathon time last year. I was doing yoga once a week and really need to add it back in to help with my flexibility.

  3. Running Hutch says:

    I cross train with CrossFit – improved half marathon time by 15 minutes. No joke. While I love lifting, I also like to do Yoga! It is a whole different discipline but it has so many great benefits. The bottom line is that any cross training that will help you master your own bodyweight, strengthen your core, and lighten you up a bit, is going to translate into better, more efficient running. The challenge is making sure you find a way to cross train that you ENJOY and makes sense for you. If you like it, you’ll do it more and see more results.

  4. Kelly @ Turned up to Eleven says:

    Back when I was doing P90X my most favorite workout was the Yoga X – it’s not very traditional but it was really nice to stop “BRINGING IT” and lifting heavy weights and jumping up and down. It was nice to be calm and sweat more than I did on any other workout. Next to the Yoga, the optional X Stretch on Sundays was my favorite. I really do think you’ve hit the nail on the head with this. The days I would feel the worst pain from sore muscles I’d do the yoga, and the next morning I felt so much better, slept better that night, and could bend around w/ ease. You are a guru, believe it girl.

    I think that this is a great way to cross train. Running and yoga, and it works for you to get the best of both worlds! 🙂

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