Maybe you’re not a yogi. Maybe you hate stretching or sitting still. Maybe even you don’t have time for anything else besides running? Maybe you’re thinking about this all wrong…
Runners like every other athlete MUST be stretching, in fact they NEED to be stretching in order to become better at their sport. Stretching improves flexibility which in turn helps with injury prevention and recovery. Stretching doesn’t have to boring. By using yoga for your pre and post run stretching routine, you will gain both physical and mental benefits that will help you in your run. How do I know this? Because I live it. My runs are always without fail better, stronger, longer and easier when I practice a little yoga before and after. When I rush and skip my yoga routine, I feel the difference in my body and in my mental state right away.
My personal favorite yoga styles are Ashtanga, Vinyasa and of course Hot Yoga…especially during cold Canadian winters! There’s nothing better than forgetting about the minus 30 degrees Celsius outside and enjoying feeling like you’re on the beach during a yoga class
However you don’t need to join a yoga studio or gym to practice. A little knowledge goes a long way. Although I have taken hundreds of yoga classes over the years and still enjoy doing so from time to time, most of the yoga that I do is at home for 15 minutes before I run and another 20-30 minutes after a run. My mat has a special place both inside and outside my home. Indoors, I choose a spot where I feel calm and centered. Outdoors I enjoy practicing yoga on the grass and feeling connected to the nature around me.
Here are my 5 reasons why every runner should practice (at least a little bit!) yoga
Yoga is a test of the mind, body and soul. It strengthens all aspects of your being and teaches you to be stronger in all things. On the physical side, gaining muscle strength from holding difficult poses will only benefit your regular runs and workouts.
We need to encourage our bodies to be more flexible. So many people spend far too many hours a day sitting still at their desk. After 6-8 or more hours of sitting, the muscles become so stiff and tight that forcing them to instantly become active in order to workout or run actually does a lot more harm than good.
Relaxation and Focus
Have a big race coming up? Fitness competition? Work or family life related stress? Yoga helps with all of these! Learning to be present in each moment and focusing on your breathing as you move through the poses is a HUGE stress release!
Learn to master yoga poses and you will soon realize that by doing so, you are working every single part of your body even the areas you weren’t aware of! Your injuries will become easier to manage and more infrequent with regular yoga practice.
After a long run or other type of workout, you can usually feel the areas that are inflamed and will be sore the next day. Spend a little time practicing yoga and those sore muscles will melt away. You will no longer wake up the next day stiff and unable to move. Yes, 20-30 minutes of yoga can be that powerful for recovery!
What is your stretching routine pre/post run?
Do you practice yoga? If so, what do you love about it?
Happy stretching! #yogaeverydamnday