Yoga Therapy for Runners

Yoga Therapy for Runners

I fell victim to the "getting older" mentality. I've done long back-to-back training runs several times over the last 18+ years of long distance running. I've suffered aches, pains, injuries, crushing fatigue, never ending hunger, illness, mood swings, and burnout. More of these as the years have gone on. I assumed that the slowing down, the aches and pains, fatigue and the rest of it were just the price to be paid if I was going to keep running.

The Purpose of Yoga for Runners

I work with a couple of running groups and recently was out to see one of them on their Saturday long run day. The topic was how to choose the right kind of yoga to support running. It was a great visit with lots of good questions and I wrote a short piece to sum up what we talked about and share with those who weren't able to make it out to the run. I'm sharing it here as well. It's a long overdue and welcome return to my 50 miles page. 

Running and Yoga - What, When and Why

In case you haven’t heard, yoga is great for runners. It can play an important role in keeping the runner’s body and mind balanced and prepared for whatever that days, weeks, or months training requires. 

However, not all yoga styes are the same and not all yoga classes are appropriate at all times in a training cycle. 

So how to choose what yoga at what time? 

While the full answer always depends on the characteristics and experiences of the individual athlete, general guidelines say that the more intense training is, the less physically intense a yoga practice should be. A yoga practice should be one that boosts recovery, not adds more physical or mental stress. It should also support all ranges of motion, not only reinforce running’s repetitive pattern of movement. 

When in maintenance or off season, this can be the time to explore different styles to see what you like and how your body and energy is impacted with different practices. You can risk some sore muscles (not injured!) without it interfering with key workouts or a race and it’s good to know which styles make you feel drained vs energized. 

As you get going with your training plan and miles are increasing, yoga can support strength building. Styles to try during this time are Vinyasa, Power, Flow or Hot Yoga. 

As you enter the next phase of training which usually consists of more intense workouts (speed, tempo, hill, lengthier long runs, etc.), yoga practices should also shift to a focus of mobility and flexibility. Styles to try might be Hatha, Slow Flow, Gentle Flow, or Alignment-Based. 

When it’s time to taper, race and recover, yoga practice becomes about focus. It’s the time to hone your mental training for race day and promote rest and healing after the race. Classes to try might include Gentle, Mindful, Restorative, Yin or Nidra. 

During all phases of training, if you are finding that your practice is draining you and keeping you from maintaining quality in your key workouts, dial it back. Choose a gentler style, practice for less time in each session or fewer times per week. Plan your practices out in terms of what makes sense over the course of a week and be prepared to adjust based on how training is going, life load, illness, etc. If you're struggling with your yoga practice or running at any time, yoga therapy can help you sort out what practices will be helpful as you continue with your training. 

With a well chosen yoga practice and appropriate training program, you will avoid injuries (both acute and overuse) and keep illness and burnout at bay. 

If you have any questions or need help choosing or developing a yoga practice that is right for you, wherever you’re at in training, please reach out. I love talking running and yoga. 

Here’s to many great miles on and off the mat,


The Power of the Morning Routine

One of the things I have been working most diligently on these last few months is a consistent morning routine. One that allows me to take care of myself before I have to do a single thing for anyone else or get caught up in the busyness of the day. I believe that routines are crucial for helping us become the best version of ourselves, for staying connected to our inner landscape and living our lives from a content and happy place.

I had been doing well for several months and was starting to reap the benefits of consistency. More energy, less tension and stress, more emotional capacity to give to my family, more connection and presence with my students and business, even feeling like I could return to my 50 mile training with enthusiasm. Yep, consistency is key to progress.

Then I went out of town for yoga therapy training, which is already draining for me, and like many who suffer from the condition of humanity, allowed my routine to get disrupted. It was too easy to sleep later and skip all but the basics. Then I got to play in the mountains and I told myself I was "on vacation" (never mind that I managed to keep up my routine while out of town during spring break). It was no surprise that when I returned, I found it difficult to return to my routine. I remained resistant, lethargic and depressed long past an acceptable amount of time to return to reality from my trip. I realized the fog wasn't lifting. I would set my alarm over and over and over and over I would return to bed, not getting up until I absolutely had to. I missed the time I used to have for nurturing myself but I couldn't seem to get it back. About to hit the one-month mark of my return from training and vacation, I knew I had to find a babystep to take that would bring me forward in a different direction. But what?

I believe based on my experiences that when we are truly ready what we are looking for arrives, whether it's a teacher, a friend, a partner, a new idea, or a step to take forward. Apparently, I was ready as mine arrived in the form of a book as I was scrolling through my kindle list. I had bought it on sale many months ago after a friend of mine raved about how it had helped her (Thanks Labrie!). I opened it up and started reading. The very next day it arrived again in my inbox on sale, which seemed like a meaningful coincidence so I continued reading.  

The book is called, The Miracle Morning, by Hal Elrod. Sometimes just reading the motivational words of others is enough to lift you up but motivational words plus concrete things you can actually try on for size are golden. Many of his suggestions were already part of my old morning routine and some are new and novel enough I'd like to try them to see what happens. He encourages accountability partners for a 30 day challenge so if anyone reading this grabs his book and wants to give it a try, I'd be happy to help support you. 

I just finished the book and haven't finalized everything my morning routine will include. However, it's empowering to see a path forward and I'm looking forward to the experiment. 

And this morning when my alarm went off, I got up. It's a start.