Yoga for Runners
As an avid yoga student as well as an avid runner, I always find myself promoting yoga to other runners, then defending it. People who run want to sweat; they want to feel like they got a crazy workout and they want the mental benefit of checking out of their brains for a bit. It’s hard to imagine that “stretching” as many of my running friends put it, would give them these same results. Most runners – who exclusively run – don’t realize that yoga is a great total-body workout. They also don’t know that yoga strengthens the muscles surrounding your hips and knees preventing many of the common injuries that runners are riddled with.
- My Fiance and I running in the LA Marathon this past year! Both of us injury free from our combined Yoga and Running routine!
Yoga is INTENSE
I’m not talking about doing some stretches before and after you run. I’m talking about doing a hardcore Vinyasa-flow or power yoga class 2-3 times a week. After one hour of engaging, lengthening and strengthening muscles you didn’t even know existed, you’ll be so sweaty and exhausted you may forget that you once thought yoga was a relaxing exercise!
I challenged one of my friends to join me for a 90-minute Vinyasa class with Vytas at Yogaworks. My friend runs 40-50 miles a week and often fights knee and back injuries from the incessant pounding on his body. He laughed at me when I gave him a full body towel as well as a face towel thinking, “Why would I sweat this much in a yoga class?” Keep in mind this was just a Vinyasa class and not in a hot room! 10 minutes into the class he was already giving me death stares with subtext that said “wow I had no idea”. By the time the class was over he had offered to buy me a new yoga mat as he was convinced the gallon of sweat he had just unloaded had destroyed my mat. When asked later how the class went he described it in the most eloquent fashion – “it was a peaceful a$$ kicking”
The next 3 days he followed up with me to tell me how sore he was (the good kind of sore) as well as how wrong he was about yoga and it’s benefits. He has since started going to yoga more frequently and noticed that getting into half pigeon for 10 minutes every day made a huge difference in his hips and IT band.
There really are benefits!
Yoga is incredibly helpful for runners and other athletes alike. It gives you the opportunity to strengthen the intrinsic muscles of your body that often don’t get engaged with one-dimensional workouts. But in the same way that you vary your running workouts (tempo runs, track workouts and long runs) you should also vary your yoga workouts as well. A power yoga class will build strength while a restorative yoga class will help you recover after a long run.
Yoga provides strength, balance, and flexibility but also can provide runners with improved performance as well as an increased mental focus, which always comes in handy when running marathon distances. Running and yoga may seem like they are on the opposite sides of the exercise spectrum but for those that do both quickly realize that they are the perfect marriage for a well-rounded exercise regimen.