There are many other sports that compliment running. One of the best cross-training activities you can take part in is yoga.
Now as a runner, you might think yoga is a little slow, perhaps methodical. And, if you’re the competitive type, the ‘calmness’ of the practice might actually make you anxious as you think that a ‘slow’ workout is not a ‘hard’ work out.
This was my feeling when I first heard my fellow runners talking about doing yoga. I wondered, could an hour of yoga really be as hard a work out as an hour of running? The answer is, yes, but for different reasons as running and yoga each work different parts of the body.
Trust me when I say that whether you take a regular (low flow, vinyasa, etc.) yoga or hot (bikram) yoga, you will surely sweat as much as you do running. And the benefits are just as great.
Yoga, done properly, is definitely a hard work out and a very good one for runners. Because of the repetitive motion of running, runners tend to have very tight muscles, especially in our legs. Practicing yoga will help lengthen and strengthen these muscles, as well as essential core muscles.
One of the running community’s premiere websites, Runner’s World, has devoted an entire section of its website to Yoga for Runners. Check out several articles about the link between running and yoga at http://www.runnersworld.com/topic-ext/1,7121,s6-238-409-0-0,00.html
The good news is September is National Yoga Month. So, whether you’re a regular yoga student or new to the practice, you can now take some classes for free.
To get a week of free yoga, go to: http://www.yogamonth.org/
The site will link you to yoga studios in your area that are participating in this event. Once you register, you’ll be e-mailed a confirmation code and a card that you’ll print out and take to your chosen studio.
Cross training for runners can also help you stay injury free. The stretching aspect of yoga is very beneficial, especially for high mileage runners. If you include a weekly regimen of yoga, you will be adding another work out to your routine, but a less stressful activity that will yield high results with the same amount of effort.
As I mentioned earlier in this article, I was skeptical of the benefits of yoga. And, truth be told, when I first started taking classes it was hard for me, a person who likes to run and often run hard and fast, to appreciate the flow of the movements. I thought it was so slow and I watched the clock a lot. Well, I still find it difficult at times to slow down that much, but I am a convert. I do yoga as much as I can. I’m not an addict but I really started to see differences in my body that I liked. I could reach further in my stretches and I feel that my recovery from long runs is a little easier when I am doing yoga regularly.
Several of my running friends swear by yoga as a method of repairing overuse injuries. And, again while I was skeptical, I have to tell you that it seems to be the only thing that helps my tender hamstring. If I am taking regular classes, I have no problem, but as soon as I miss some time in the studio, it’s as if my hamstring calls out to me that I am neglecting it.
So now’s the time to take advantage of National Yoga Month to try something new, maybe a new class or a new studio. Chances are you’ll find something in the practice just for you.
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