Identity Crisis

February 24, 2014

I heard it all the time.

Yoga is great for runners.

And after encouragement from a friend and member of Team Yoga, three and a half years ago I went to my first yoga class.  At a real yoga studio.

My reaction?

That actually didn’t suck.

I think I’ll give it one more try next week.

And then I was hooked.

I quickly ditched the twelve pound free-weights (The first time I was told to hold chatturanga I realized they were just giving me a mask of strength, anyway).  My hip flexors gradually started to feel better.  I found myself doing more down dog and less child’s pose.  I would sometimes even sneak in a two-miler before class.

But the “better” I became at asana, the “worse” I got at running.

Sure, I was running less frequently.  Each day I practiced yoga was a day I lost for running, which meant my mileage went way down.

Over time my pace became slower, and five miles began to feel like eight.  I even made the life-changing move to running in minimal shoes, eventually making the switch to Five-Fingers (which I don’t regret at all- my once heel-cracked, pancake-like feet now have a slight arch and smooth, yet strong pink skin on the bottoms), but my downward running spiral continued.

Now, let’s be up front.  I took take running seriously but was never an elite runner.  I have never been fast and am always a little sore after long or hilly runs.  But my “jogging” has become plodding, and it makes sense, physiologically.  Running requires a springy step.  Spring=tightness.  Yoga removes the tightness.  Yoga is changing what few fast-twitch fibers I had into slow-twitch.

Now, here I am, three weeks away from completing my first yoga teacher training, and I am doing good to run eight miles a week.  I knew that going through this training would change me as a person, I just didn’t know I would fall into a little identity crisis.  If someone asked me, two years ago, Who are you? A runner or a yogi?  My answer would have been easy.  A runner! Running came first, and yoga was just a bonus.  But now?  I am caught.

At night, I dream of running fast.

But I also sequence yoga classes in my sleep.



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