October 25, 2010

Yoga for Runners

Again, apologies for the lack of posts this week. As usual I was keeping pretty busy so allow me to play catch up! I took a couple rest days after Long Beach because I felt a little rundown from traveling. I blame the airplanes - too many people packed together with their germs floating around : / I got back out there Wednesday I did my first "two a day" with a workout in the morning and the evening.

That morning I went for a quick 5 miles before work and although I wasn't trying to, I ran each mile slightly faster than the previous one. Then after work my coworker and I headed over to Zuda Yoga, a local yoga studio which offers a "$10 for 10 days" deal for newbies. I've heard many proclaim the wonderful and endless benefits of yoga, especially for runners, so I'd been meaning to check out some classes. My only yoga experience was brief and intense. Back in high school I did Bikram (aka hot) yoga for a few months and can distinctly remember two things: first, how hot it was and how I sweat buckets, and second, how much it kicked my ass. Seriously, I remember being sore in places where I didn't even know I had muscles! Anyway, back to the present. We could only make the late class after work which happened to be for all levels and not specifically for beginners. After checking in and paying we waited around for the current class to finish, and much to my surprise, when the door opened I saw that everyone who came out was drenched in sweat! Ummm was I missing something? Turns out while Zuda doesn't practice hot yoga, they do keep the room heated to around 87 degrees to aid muscle flexibility (and make you sweat!). Zuda practices Power Vinyasa Yoga:

"Power Vinyasa is a dynamic and physical yoga where students move and flow from posture to posture. This movement introduces a cardiovascular element to the practice. A Vinyasa practice reminds us that life and everything around us is temporal and subject to change. A Vinyasa practice varies from class to class. As a derivative of Ashtanga yoga, it uses Sun Salutations A and B as a base. There are no mirrors in the studio because students are taught to feel their practice and focus on self- awareness."

Crystal and I set up our mats at the front of the room as had been recommended for newcomers and sat and waited for class to begin. It started off slowly, and I was pleased to find that I remembered more poses than I thought. However I was still constantly looking around the room to see what I was supposed to be doing. I totally felt like one of those people who come to yoga to look at other people instead of focusing on my own practice. Things started to pick up pretty quickly and it sort of became like a yoga circuit, going from one pose to the next fluidly with no break. And man did we start sweating! I was also amazed at how much flexibility I've lost (although it also could be that I'm just tight from running so much). I was able to do all of the poses, but I found the ones that required arm strength to be especially difficult for me - I'm like a t-rex, all legs with weak little arms! Our instructor had us doing a lot of chaturangas going into cobra pose and holy cow were my arms tired after! There was also lots of downward dog and child's pose, which was quite welcomed.

(all yoga photos from here)
 child's pose
 chaturanga to cobra
 bow pose
eagle pose

The class ended with the typical savasana, or corpse pose - essentially lying in a neutral, open position on the floor. The lights were dimmed while we relaxed and focused on our breathing, and the class aid actually gave Crystal and I a mini massage, with the lightest touch and a lovely smelling lotion. It was divine : ) All in all I really enjoyed the class. It was a serious workout but was relaxing at the same time. It really does give you a whole new sense of awareness of your body, mind, and even spirit. My one drawback to yoga, however, is the expense. I'll definitely be going again during my 10 days but I'll have to reassess after that. So after a loooong day I finally made it and took my second shower of the day.

Thankfully I had Thursday off from work because when I woke up it hurt to move anything! I totally underestimated how sore I would be after yoga and man was I feeling it. And I noticed that my hip bones were actually bruised from doing bow pose (see above)! I took it easy and ran some errands then headed out for a tempo run despite my aching muscles. I did an easy warm-up mile then cranked up the pace for 4 miles. I was aiming for around 9:00min/mi and ended up with 9:43, 9:41, 9:36, and 9:39. I call that a success! I finished it up with a mile cool-down for a total of 6 miles for the day.

On Friday I decided to sleep a little bit more and push my run til after work. As much as I prefer to get my runs out of the way, sometimes I just can't get out of bed. Running after work isn't so bad if I'm not going very far, but it does suck a little to postpone dinner that much longer and have to run in the dark. I got it done, though, and finished 4 miles with a 9:43 average pace.

Saturday was a rest day but was spent working all day at the store. All day I kept checking outside since the weather has finally accepted that it's fall and it was supposed to rain. Finally I saw the first sign of drops! I couldn't wait to run in the rain : ) After work I went to get a new cell phone since my screen went black the night before. I got a fancy Droid Incredible (so cool) and stayed up way too late that night figuring out how to use the darn thing - not so smart when you've got a long run the next morning! Luckily I only had 11 on schedule since I'm tapering for MCM on Sunday (yikes!). When I woke up this morning I saw that I'd got my wish - it was still raining. I wore capris and a long sleeve for the first time this fall and headed out into the chilly morning. 
the impending storm...
It was only drizzling when I started out but quite windy. It didn't take long for things to quickly progress, however, and before I knew it I was running in a storm! I was completely drenched halfway through but managed to stay pretty warm and reasonably comfortable, but I was glad I was only doing 11 : ) My left hip started nagging me from the start but actually got to the point that I almost had to stop around mile 9.5. I stretched it a bit and was able to make it home but it's been pretty sore all day so I'll be keeping an eye on it this week and stretching/rolling like crazy. I finished up my final long run of this training cycle with an average pace of 9:53, sopping wet.

MCM goals and thoughts coming soon!


  1. Never done yoga but heard it is challenging.

  2. Yoga is great and helps SO much with running! I need to get back on track now since I have lost so much flexibility :(