Many of us aren’t aware that yoga can be a terrific tool for long distance runners, especially as they head into the final month of preparation. Stephen Allison, a teacher at Health Yoga Life, advantage trainer, and five-time marathon finisher himself, explains below.
- More runners should incorporate a weekly yoga practice into their regimen. Yoga increases flexibility and adds strength without adding size. It will help you recover faster and will prevent injuries. You'll be amazed by the things your body will learn in a short time.
- If you run enough, you will get injured. That's just a fact. You can train smart, and take all the precautions, but eventually a pothole will find you, or you'll get stuck in a car seat after running long. Your hips will be sore or your Achilles tendon will ache. Yoga will not fix everything, but it will make you less susceptible to injury and quicker to return.
- You don't see too many 60 and 70-year-olds running, but you do see people that age with thriving yoga practices.
- The perfect time to increase your yoga is during your taper. You take the last few weeks before the big race lightly. Add a few (light) yoga classes. Your body will remain stimulated without taking anything away from your race day effort.
- Your body is designed to run. Your body is also designed to move through the poses in a yoga practice. Yoga is thousands of years old. If a pose were detrimental to your movement, it would have been marginalized already. The more ease your body can move with through a yoga practice, the more ease you will experience when you run.
If you are newer to yoga, I would caution not to overstrain and don’t try to do all the poses in a typical yoga class. Make sure to introduce yourself to the teacher and explain that you are new and that you are a runner, and ask for advice on a good way to take some precautions during your first few classes.
Yoga can also help you find ease from the anticipation and tension prior to race day.
You have prepared long for the moment of stepping over the start-line and you want to get to the finish line. Being able to reduce your own expectation of how it all should go, or your own judgments after the race, can you help you actually enjoy and relish in the experience.
This year, Marathon Monday wasn’t just Boston’s day. The world will be watching. The cheering crowd is no longer just lining heartbreak hill, it’s extending from “sea to shining sea.”