There is nothing like running outdoors in the springtime. Those who are runners know the exhilaration that only a good run can give you. But do you know how yoga can benefit your running?
Runners are trained to be competitive and push past pain; yogis are trained to be accepting and to work within the moment. While the two activities seem counter-intuitive on the surface, they're actually the perfect "yin-yang" balance that will enhance every runner’s performance—and keep runners moving forward for the long-haul.
Here are five reasons every runner should take up a regular yoga practice.
1. It will keep you running. Many runners have a preconceived notion that yoga simply is not “hard enough.” Of course, stretching is important. Does this sound familiar? About thirty minutes into the practice, your mind wanders to thoughts of how much more “productively” this time could be spent running on the treadmill. Many serious runners have experienced piriformis syndrome, which can really take hold of running. That stabbing pain in the rear and hamstring plague you during runs, and sitting still in the car during your commute is worse. If you want to keep running, you have to be kinder to your body.
Focusing on yoga helps stretch and treat all the muscles that you demand performance from when running.
2. Yoga will improve your focus. When you learn to quiet your mind and breathe into discomfort, you add an amazing gift to your running arsenal, particularly during those grueling long runs when you just can’t find your groove. You also start to appreciate the sport of running more when you learn to be present in your races, appreciating the sights, sounds, smells and sensations that only an endurance event can offer, instead of doggedly watching your watch to break a “PR.”
3. Yoga offers more to your support community. The energy and spirit of runners can't be topped, but yogis possess a sense of calm and positivity that is infectious. Yoga practitioners appreciate what they have been given—even on the “bad running” days.
4. Understand your body better. Yoga brings your strengths and weaknesses to the forefront, no matter how much you choose to ignore them during running. The saying in yoga that the pose you hate most is the one you should probably spend the most time on, and is a great philosophy to bring to your running, too. When you become aware of your body’s biomechanics, you can adjust your training, pick up the pace and take care of yourself -- before injury sets in.
5. Develop strength. Many runners wrongly believe that running in and of itself builds lower body strength, and therefore, they forego any strength training. Muscle imbalances develops as a result of running, and eventually, injury occurs. While the act of running will develop muscles to a degree, through yoga training you will see noticeable improvements in your running power and pace consistency. You will be able to endure balance challenges, develop core strength and the learn the simple “burn of holding”. What better place to find all of the elements than on the mat?
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