Guest Blog: Blending Yoga and Running for a Healthy Life
As a regular half and full marathon runner, as well as a yoga instructor in-training, Whitney Olson knows why yoga and running can compliment each other perfectly as a means to lead a healthy life. She's written up a guest post to explain how blending yoga and running has changed her life:
If my blog, LiveRunLoveYoga wasn’t a big enough indication that I love running and yoga I’m not sure what is. I have a passion for both running and yoga that has only continued to grow over the years. As a 3 time marathoner who has been running for over 10 years I’m more than familiar with the beating running can give to a body. Taking to the yoga mat allows me to create a balanced workout routine that includes stretching, strength, endurance and cardiovascular work and a lot of happiness.
I run on average three to four days per week and practice yoga three to four days per week as well. As a runner who is continually training for marathons and half-marathons I focus on three quality runs per week and will add a fourth easy run if I feel my body needs it. My goal is to get in one long run, one speed workout in the form of a track workout or tempo run and one short, easy recovery run. I use yoga for cross-training and strength in addition to recovery. I like to get two power or Vinyasa style classes in and one or two easier recovery classes.
Planning is important when using yoga as your strength, cross-training and recovery workouts. I like to take an easy yoga class the day before my long run. I feel that it loosens my body and muscles and helps to prevent cramping and muscle soreness associated with the higher miles. I’ve learned that when I do practice yoga and run on the same day, it’s best to run before yoga. Running after yoga results in tired, heavy legs and a frustrating run. Weeks and months with lower mileage are the perfect time to challenge myself and build strength in the yoga studio. When a series of bad runs strikes I know I need to cut-back on running and add more yoga. I’ve learned that what may work one week or month, may not the next and I need to plan my workouts differently.
The other key to success is to be willing to make adjustments. If I am taking a power yoga class the day before a tempo run I know it’s best to focus on my core and arm strength and back off when possible on my legs. When I’m taking a yoga class for recovery my goal is to stretch my hips and low back which tend to be tight from running. Often this means that I modify poses in yoga classes to meet my needs or occasionally add a pose the instructor left out to stretch or strengthen. When I am running and experience tight muscles and the same aches and pains, I will often cut my run short and do a short yoga practice focusing on the trouble spots after.
Adjusting specific workouts to my body’s needs ensures that I stay healthy and strong.
Yoga has not only improved my running through strength and flexibility but also in my breathing. Yoga is centered on your breath, connecting and controlling your breath throughout the practice is one of the main elements of yoga. I now incorporate deep cleansing breaths into my running when I need energy and am able to control my breathing to reduce my heart rate and recover quicker after up hills and bursts of speed. I am able to find calm within my breath that can center my body when I feel tired and am exerting myself. The focus on controlling my breathing while running has made me mentally stronger on the yoga mat too and I’m better able to stay with my breath throughout an entire practice.
Running has always provided me an active outlet to observe my thoughts and find a peace within myself. Yoga has taught me how to accept, deal and process many of the thoughts I have on a calmer, quieter level. The lessons I have learned through the yoga sutras and readings in yoga classes often provide comfort on long runs while training for a marathon. Both running and yoga provide healthy outlets to deal with life’s emotions. As they say, a healthy mind means a healthy
This fall I begin the journey to become a certified yoga instructor while continuing to train and run for marathons and half-marathons. I am always working to find a healthy balance between running and yoga and regular share my experiences and lessons on my blog LiveRunLoveYoga!
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