For me running has become more and more about the mind-body connection. Questioning how runs make me feel. Thinking about how my body moves. Working out what I want to get out of running, and putting those values front and centre. Being mindful about how I move, my intentions and how it all makes me feel has added to my runs, I’m more content and get way more out of them. Running feels good.
One of the things that has really helped me make these connections is yoga. Practicing regularly at Fierce Grace Brixton has really changed how I think about my movement and my body, which in turn has helped me think about my body and my movement when I run. While I was in Holland with 361 Europe all the Ambassadors got together for a yoga class. We were in a lovely space right on the beach, with an open fire and a great teacher who led us through a flow that really got the day starting right, but what surprised me was how few of the other runners in the room practiced yoga. It just didn’t seem to be something people did, or at least not very often. I reckon they’re missing out, not just on the physical benefits of regular yoga practice (which I’ve written about here), but also the mental aspects. How you feel about your body and running is everything. Running should feel good, and it should be fun, and yoga practice can help you make the connection with your body to achieve that!
When I’m running with other people, and when they tell me they’re struggling, I’ll always remind them to breath before anything else. It’s crazy how often we forget to do something so essential to life, especially when we’re putting our bodies under pressure. Yoga is focused around breathing, and working with your breath through movement. As with anything, the more you practice something, the more it becomes habit. So if you can get used to syncing your breath to your movement during yoga practice that’ll eventually translate to running.
focusing on you
Being real, how often do you compare yourself to other runners? No shame, it can be a competitive sport, and there’s loads of noise on social media that encourages us to compare our stats, our performance, our feelings and whatever else to everyone else. Yoga is about looking inwards. It’s about you. It’s a practice that slows you down and promotes patience. You can’t compete in yoga. OK, well you can, but you’re a fool if you do. Getting that headspace can help you take that step back when you run and run for you, not for the ‘gram.
being aware of your body
How much do you actually think about your form? We all know I’m slightly obsessed with form, but yoga has really helped me to understand how my body works. Focusing alignment, posture and balance means I understand more about the difference pulling my shoulder blades together makes, the impact of the tilt of my pelvis and exactly how important it is to have a strong butt (very). That awareness has then translated into running because I understand more about why good form is good for and what it can do for my body. Not to mention the fact that building my strength, mobility and flexibility through yoga helps me maintain that good form on the course!
If you’re always focusing on speed when do you slow down? My training is fairly intense, long intervals, short intervals, time trials. There’s no easy runs in the traditional sense, so having the moment that yoga gives me to slow down and take my time is invaluable. It gives my mind a rest and lets my body move in a different way.
Do you bring yoga into your training? What impact does it have on you?
* Thank you to 361 Europe for always helping me go Beyond Expectations. All opinions are my own *
* Images 361 Europe by Max Wilcocks *