Anyone that knows me would probably tell you that I never stop moving and I never sit down. And they’d be right. It’s just not built into my DNA. This not only applies in my daily life, but also in my training. I have consistently pushed my body to keep moving with each training cycle I have worked through for each marathon. Yes, I have incorporated cross training and rest days, but what I have completely failed at is stretching and flexibility which is blatantly obvious to anyone that has seen me try to touch my toes…I mean my knees…because that’s about as far as I get. I have failed to give the love back to my body that it has shown me with every speed work out, with every long run, with every hill repeat I have pushed it through.
So for this training cycle, I have made some changes to my weekly schedule. I am still incorporating speed work, tempo runs, hill workouts, long runs, recovery runs, cross training, strength. You name it and it’s probably represented on my calendar at some point over the next 18 weeks. The biggest change I’ve made though is that I have vowed to incorporate at least one day of yoga into my schedule each week. I have wanted to do this in the past, but never actually built it into my training calendar and made a point to commit to it…and so of course, it never happened. This time around, it is built in, every Thursday morning at 6 AM, and it is happening in large part to my great friend Victoria.
Victoria is an amazingly talented yogi. Yoga is her passion and it shines through when she speaks about practicing and most definitely when you practice under her. Did I mention she also has a British accent? Yep. That doesn’t suck either. I just find it relaxing listening to her talk so when she is instructing me bright and early each week, it’s exactly the type of calm I need. It’s the one day each week where I truly show my body the love it deserves as I flow through the poses, ground myself, and exist in each and every moment. I am reminded to “just be” every time I walk into her studio. It is a fantastic way to start my day.
My experience with yoga has always been flowing through different poses and for the most part constantly moving during the practice from one pose to the next. Remember, I never stop moving in general, so this type of yoga has been right up my alley! I felt as though I was getting a good stretch in along with a workout. This was the type of yoga that Victoria and I were doing…until last Thursday.
Last Wednesday night, I got a text from Victoria asking me if I would be interested to try “Yin Yoga”. I wondered what the hell Yin Yoga was. Victoria told me that we would do many of the same poses we had been doing, but each pose would be held for 3-5 minutes allowing for a deeper stretch. She also mentioned it would be a bit more meditative since we were holding poses longer and using the breath to do so. MY WORST NIGHTMARE. That was my exact thought. HOLD A POSE FOR 3-5 MINUTES! STOP MOVING AND FLOWING! OH DEAR GOD HELP ME! But because I love my friend and respect her knowledge of the practice, I agreed to try it…once. I’m pretty sure I told her I didn’t think I’d like it, but I’d do it. Needless to say, I wasn’t super excited come Thursday morning when my alarm went off.
I headed over for 6 AM for this Yin Yoga. We practiced for our usual 60 minutes. We held every pose for 3-5 minutes. We did not flow. We did not constantly move. I did not hate it. I LOVED IT! WHAT?!?!?! How could this be possible? It went against everything in my DNA!
Yin Yoga was exactly as Victoria described it to me. It was a slower-paced type of yoga with each pose being held for a longer period of time. It was EXACTLY what my body has been screaming for. It was the love that my body needs! Every pose was a deep stretch and every pose forced me to focus on using my breath to “get comfortable being uncomfortable”, something I have been working on. I loved it so much that I told my friend we need to continue doing it each week throughout this marathon training cycle. I truly believe it will benefit me to restore balance, improve my flexibility, and give my muscles the stretch they’ve been looking for.
Victoria later told me that she suggested we try Yin Yoga because she had read a lot about how it is great for runners. Running would be considered a “yang movement” because it is high intensity. To balance that type of workout, one should seek out a “yin” opportunity. If only we all had a friend like this looking out for us right? AMAZING! After learning this, I had to check for myself online and voila, she of course was correct! Yin Yoga is meant to be restorative to the body while also being a great way to avoid injury as a runner. Check out this article from Competitor.com: http://running.competitor.com/2013/11/recovery/using-yoga-for-injury-prevention-and-recovery_47712 Of course, you can also You Tube “Yin Yoga for runners” to get ideas for several different workouts to try yourself.
A huge thanks to my friend Victoria for helping me on my journey to Boston and pushing me to try something I never would have done on my own. If you’re like me and constantly putting your body through the wringer, try giving it some love. Do yourself a favor and try some Yin Yoga. It might just be exactly what your body needs.