Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Yoga for Runners

As a runner, I know that I should do some cross training to increase my physical strength. Something like light weight lifting, biking, swimming. Something that uses my body in a different way than just a forward motion. I am totally guilty of slacking in this area. As a working mom, it's an effort just to make time to get my runs in, never mind all this other stuff.

But I started to have a problem. I began noticing that I was really stiff all the time. Sure, I could run a half marathon, but sitting cross-legged on the floor was starting to become difficult. I can touch my toes when I'm standing, but I can barely make it past my knees when sitting. I will be honest that it took me awhile to come to the conclusion that yoga may help.

Like I've been running for nearly 4 years now, and I just started about a month ago.

*hangs head in shame*

Yoga is not exactly strength training, but yoga is beneficial to a runner for several reasons. Mainly, yoga helps loosen up stiff muscles (like your hamstrings, hello!), and helps runners avoid injury. Loose, limber muscles are less injury prone than stiff ones!

I found a great intro DVD that I can do in the comfort of my own home (read: pajamas), called Yoga for Runners by Christine Felstead.

I started with the Essentials DVD that is really very basic. Felstead starts with breathing and foundation poses, then moves to back, hamstring, and hip poses.

I really love the "Pigeon Pose" which is great at stretching the hips, but also the pirioformis muscle which I have trouble with

It takes me about 45 minutes to get through all 4 sequences. I've started doing the DVD on my non-running days. I just get up at the same time as I would for a run, walk downstairs, pop in the DVD and 45 minutes later I'm feeling pretty good! 

Felstead also has an Intermediate DVD for those that maybe already have a good yoga base. I am no Yogi, clearly, so I bought this one too with the idea of working up to it. 

So far, I have to say that I do think it's helping. The poses are getting easier to do, and I don't have as much tightness after a long run right now. Although, all my long runs are on the treadmill at the moment due to weather. The real test will be once I start pounding the pavement again.

Are you a yoga fan? What kind of cross training do you do if you're a runner?


  1. I've never done these DVDs, but I do love yoga. Well, I guess that it would be more accurate to say that I love how I feel as a result of doing yoga. :) For me, yoga can be sorta boring, but I do feel like it helps me with my breathing, speed, recovery time and even stress level.

    Last year, I got in the habit of doing a strength training routine 4 days per week that took me roughly 20 minutes and I would do it after I did shorter runs. It was the first time I ever made a weight training routine stick, and it felt so good! I can't wait to get back to it.

    1. I think that's why I like doing it early in the morning before I'm really awake. I just shoot of zone out. Then when I'm done, I feel so much more ready for my day!