This won't be the first time somebody tries to get you into yoga. Yoga converts are evangelical: There's the peaceful friend who wants you to find your heart center; the intense friend who dips out of work for Bikram and comes back 10 pounds lighter; and the insane friend who invites you to yoga, on a paddleboard, in the ocean, and then posts photos on Facebook to prove it's a real thing. Now there's us: Our modest proposal is that yoga will make you a better runner, improve your form and balance, and decrease your susceptibility to overuse injuries of the lower extremities, including plantar fasciitis, achilles tendonitis, patellofemoral pain (knee), IT band syndrome, and trochanteric bursitis (hip pain). Yoga will also improve your focus before and during the race, when mental staying power is as important as physical endurance.
We worked with yoga instructor and endurance sports coach Sage Rountree, which is actually her real name, to identify 10 yoga poses that will improve your running game. Rountree, herself an accomplished athlete, has worked with everyone from Olympians to ultrarunners to us average folks, and is recently the author of 'The Runner's Guide to Yoga.' "We're not trying to get runners to touch their toes or get their feet behind their head," says Rountree. "We're trying to keep them fluid through the range of motion they use for running, so there isn't a hitch in their stride that leads to an overuse injury." That, and it'll keep you from curling up and looking like a shrimp during the last leg of the race. Her word, "shrimp." Launch Gallery >>
We've run with a lot of people over the years who put down 15 miles and then eat an egg sandwich, skip the stretching, and go about their day. That's fine, they've earned it. But it's a lot like lifting weights and then skipping the recovery shake: We're not achieving the full benefits of the exercise if we don't recover properly.
The Supported Fish is an ideal pose for recovery. It's also very easy. Just lay down on your back, reclining over a rolled blanket. Stay there for 20 breaths or more. This stretches out the chest and encourages deep breaths.
Benefits: Helps with recovery and relieves tension.
Credit: "The Runner's Guide to Yoga," by Sage Rountree (VeloPress, 2012)