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.
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.