Last Sunday I attended a yoga event at our MLB stadium, Comerica Park.
I’ve always been hesitant about yoga. Would I really benefit from it? Is it worth my time? Could it ever be a substitute for running? Would I ever be “good” at it? Would it challenge me? Could it be as intense as running? Overtime, I learned the answer to all these questions is yes. And in my most humble self I would say I’m good at yoga but I’m not, by any means, great. There’s so many poses I can’t do and probably will never ever be able to do. But I’m good at the basics and I work on the breathing and I try hard to make progress on each pose but I can rarely actually see myself so who knows.
(I also have an amazing friend who benefited from starting yoga classes and goes to these pretty cool yoga events with me!)
A month or two after I graduated college in 2015 I had started marathon training. I said, “If I get a job right after college, I’m going to sign up for a marathon.” Which made no sense. After I got home from my first day of work I signed up for the Detroit Free Press Marathon.
I ran frequently in college and for about two years I was president of our school’s running club (so I HAD to run several times a week!). But I needed to start building up mileage gradually. And I guess I needed something else to do since I didn’t have to study 24/7 anymore. I went to a yoga studio down the street from my campus. They had a new student trial for 2 weeks unlimited yoga for $20. One sweltering class at 105 degrees Fahrenheit/60% humidity for 80 minutes and I could feel how close the intensity can compare to running. By which I mean I was dripping in sweat as much and more as I would from a really hot run. And I also tried their classes that were at less extreme conditions. You bet I got my money’s worth.
Then there was a new student package offer, 3 months unlimited, so I continued to attend classes at least twice a week from August to October. Sometimes I would do a short easy run no more than three miles before class or do hill work on campus with my running club friends. But if I tried to run after a class, it was usually too dark & I risked dehydration.
Hot vinyasa yoga is great! I never would have thought I would be saying that. You never got weird looks from your classmates, no one cared that your eye makeup was sweating off so terribly that you looked like a raccoon when you exited the class, and no one laughed when you lost your balance and yes, fell over. And no batted an eye when someone passed wind in class. It happens. And it’s not embarrassing so if that’s your excuse that’s crap heh heh.
Yoga is challenging. I’m very inflexible and I’ve always slacked on stretching. It became an acceptable cross-training exercise for me during training. Heck, I used to have to run a couple miles before zumba in college. Eventually, my spaghetti arms were no longer labeled as “thin”. I mean, I guess to some people they still are but now they aren’t like angel hair pasta. I ran longer and farther than I have ever ran. Looking back it amazes me that I once had several 50+ mile weeks, or that I ran long tempo runs after a full day of work, or that I ran workouts consisting of 3x3miles AND I did the warmup and cooldown miles. I’ll tell ya I certainly wasn’t eating as nutritiously as I do now. Yet, my core was strong, I tried arm balance poses and fell on my face, I tried to lift my legs up to a tripod or headstand. I had fun and it made me happier.
Then I ran my first marathon. It was so hard. Why kid? I walked a little here and there. I had side cramps I never once had during training (even though I tried to mimic fuel intake as best I could). I needed to slow it down: refocus. And the breathing you practice in yoga (one breathe one movement) helped when I felt short of breath and I did at times. I’m not making any of it up. I finished. And by November I had moved and had to join a different yoga studio but I had momentarily been able to touch my toes. I still attend yoga at least once a week.
What’s so significant about yoga and me? I have ran it all, injury-free! And the benefits aren’t exclusive to running.
Now I’m thinking it’s time for me to run another marathon. 2018. But which one? Will I be able to brave winter/spring Michigan weather to pull off an early summer marathon? Or should I pick out a fall marathon and train through the heat of the summer?