How Yoga Made Me A Better Runner
If you’re a cardio-junkie like me and only enjoy high impact workouts, yoga may not sound very appealing to you; it certainly took me a while to come around to it. While yoga seems like the opposite of running, I’ve recently come to realise that it’s an amazing cross-training tool to improve my running. At first, I didn’t see the point of a work-out that didn’t leave me panting and sweating, but once I gave it a go, I flet the benefits almost straight away. Here are some ways that yoga has improved my abilities as a runner and how it can improve yours too.
Gain More Strength
Strength training is something many runners (including myself) often avoid. This always ends up being to my detriment, as I am constantly finding myself with injuries. It’s taken me many, many years to learn that strength training is the way to avoid these pesky injuries. It prevents them by strengthening the muscles you use while running. So I went straight to google to guys some weights for my at-home strength training, but upon seeing the price of a singular kettlebell, I swiftly closed the webpage. Another google search told me that yoga could be used to strength-train, too — who knew? Bonus — all you need is a yoga mat, and you’re good to go. Practising yoga develops strength in the core, quads, hamstrings, and hip flexors which are crucial for runners to avoid injuries.
Become More Flexible
Flexibility is another important factor to becoming a better runner, as it allows you to move with more freedom, ease and a greater range of motion. Yoga helps improve your flexibility, as holding poses creates elasticity and loosens up the muscles, joints, ligaments, and connective tissues. Since introducing yoga into my routine, I have found that I run much faster too!
Gain More Mental Strength
Yoga is an excellent tool for strengthening your mental muscles as well as your physical ones. For those who suffer from anxiety on race days, yoga helps you alleviate some of the pressure. Moving through the poses and practising yoga meditation, will help you calm your mind and let go of expectations, which will help you immensely on a race day to perform at your highest ability.
Improve Your Breathing
Breathing is one of the most crucial parts of yoga (and running for that matter). Yoga meditation has taught me that slower breathing is more relaxing, and faster breathing is more energising. While running, we can use the breath to find a more relaxed mental state and optimise performance. It may seem a little unnatural to change your breathing at first, but with practice, you’ll be able to make the correct adjustments while running, which will allow you to optimise your performance.
Run With Proper Posture
Proper posture will help you run faster and more efficiently. Finding the proper running posture is extremely important for those who sit at a desk all day. Having flexed hips then going for a long run is a recipe for disaster. Yoga teaches us that alignment is the key; standing tall without tensing our muscles, which is great to practise to use in our running technique.
What are you waiting for? Give yoga a go! It may take a few tries to feel comfortable with it if you’re brand new to the practice but keep with it, and you’ll get there. There are a ton of great videos on YouTube, and there are many specifically aimed at runners too!