How Yoga gave me my all-round ‘personal best’ as a runner
~ by Gemma Young ~
I have been practicing yoga for many years and as a runner and someone who is fairly competitive, I tend to also have that competitive stance within me, even when on the mat. Not with others but with myself. Always wanting to push myself that little bit more each week, bend that little bit further, breathe that little bit deeper… the same goes for running. I am always striving for my personal best, always wanting to beat my last time.
However, practicing yoga with Laura in Southampton and the family of yogi’s has taught me how it is okay to sometimes enjoy the minimum, not get things perfect, be on the mat not to compete with myself, but to surrender myself to all that yoga has to offer my body, mind and soul. Learning and accepting this has been profound for me. The odd thing about it is that by doing regular yoga practice, learning to breathe deeply and correctly, connecting body and mind, and stretching and strengthening my body, has meant that I now run faster and longer than I ever have done!
The Yoga for Runners workshops comes highly recommended by me to enable runners to learn the basic techniques for breathing and those crucial stretches pre and post runs.
I will be running in the Bournemouth half marathon on Sunday 8th October for the wonderful Children’s charity, the NSPCC. Please feel free to visit myJust Giving page if you wish to make a contribution. Any donations would be very much appreciated and make a difference to this wonderful cause.
Perfect for Injury Prevention, Improved Running Form and Recovery
These are post run yoga stretches or rest day stretches to add to your training regime. Running, even with the most efficient style, does put load, stress and strain on the body – but I get it you love it! So just make sure to add rejuvenating and injury preventing yoga postures and yoga stretches to your training at least once/week (ideally more). If you want to learn even more check out our Monthly Yoga for Runners Workshops in Southampton or the Online 7 Week Yoga for Runners Course.
Shin / Ankle Yoga Stretch for Runners
Sitting back on your heels, bring your hands to the ground behind you
Lean back and lift your knees up and as much of your shins as possible
If you are tight in your ankles don’t worry if you don’t get much lift, it’ll improve over time
Runners Lunge – a Yoga Stretch
A stretch for both the hamstrings and the hip flexors perfect for runners
From kneeling step one leg forward, straighten the leg as much as possible (it’s ok to keep a little bend in the knee whilst your flexibility improves)
Lift up the foot and toes of the front leg to also stretch your calf
Keeping your spine long fold your chest forwards over the straight leg
Hip Flexor / Psoas Yoga Stretch for Runners
From the above posture, bend your knee and place your foot on the floor
Your knee is exactly above your ankle in the front leg
Bring both hands to the floor on the inside of the front leg
Slowly start to drop your back hip flexor lower to the ground as you lower your chest a little closer to the ground as well.
Over time you can progress to placing your elbows on the floor
Quad / Hip Flexor Yoga Stretch for Runners
From seated, carefully bend one leg back behind you and plant the other foot flat on the floor with your knee bent.
As much as possible try to have even weight on both buttocks
Bring first your hands to the ground behind you and gently lean back
Over time lower down onto your elbow
You must keep the bent knee on the floor
Any pain in your knee come straight out of the posture
Runners – do you just focus your time on getting through the miles? Or have you thought about the effectiveness of cross-training? But how, when and what stops you? I get it, finding the time to fit in runs and cover the distance is hard enough without having to find the time for something else altogether. The answer is . . . add a little yoga to your current running schedule with yoga cross training for runners.
As a Yoga Teacher, I work with many runners at class, in specialised Yoga for Runners Workshops and through my Online Yoga for Runners Course, as a result, I have seen the effectiveness of yoga. One thing stands out . . . yoga is the perfect form of cross training for runners. You ask yourself, why do I need cross training, running gives me everything I need? It’s true, running has many awesome benefits for both the body and the mind. However, running exacts a notable toll on the body.
During an average one mile of running your foot will strike the ground one thousand times. The force of each strike is about 3-4 times your body weight? 65% of runners get injured every year and every runner will on average get 1 injury per 100 hours of running, according to studies by the American Journal of Sports Medicine. And as we all know getting injured and being in pain whilst running sucks. Running is addictive, running is amazing so give yoga a try and learn how to prevent injuries and improve your running through yoga.
Benefits of Yoga Cross Training for Runners:
All areas of running performance are improved with yoga cross training for runners, but to cover just a few:
Running Form and Posture
Flexibility for Injury Prevention
Quicker recovery from races and challenging runs
Upper Body and Core Strength for Improved Speed
Enhanced Lung Capacity and Breathing Techniques for Endurance and Stamina
Mindfulness and Mental Resolve for those challenging race