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3 Reasons to add YOGA to your Weekly Training Program

Nicole Grace completed the Florence Marathon in 2014 – she learnt many lessons along the way. Below is her story…

As a marathon runner I know how important a well-balanced training program needs to be. I have been guilty of over-training, under-recovering and not listening to the warning signs my body was giving me, to the detriment of my health. During the peak of my marathon training I was more concerned about pounding the pavement, interval training and climbing more hills. Replenishing, restoring and nourishing my body (and mind!) was never a priority. Sure, I used to stretch before and after runs and completed the ocassional strength and yoga class – but it wasn’t enough for a well-balanced programme.

Fast forward a few years later, with hindsight on my side and the knowledge I now have as a Yoga Teacher, I have no doubt that if I had included a weekly yoga practice into my training and integrated the tools of yoga into my life, not only would I have been a better athlete, I would still be running today.

Injuries and mental burnout inhibit the athlete’s ability to consistently train and progress. Athletes ranging from novice to elite (across all sporting disciplines) are turning to yoga to offset these challenges.

Below are 3 key reasons that support the benefits of yoga:

  • Physical Benefits
    Endurance athletes spend the majority of their time in the forward moving plane of movement. Runners and cyclists propel their bodies forward through recruitment of the hip flexors, quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and core. Swimmers propel their bodies forward through the repetitive movement of rotating the shoulders, utilizing the chest muscles, upper/mid back muscles, and the core. The repetitive nature of these sports (overusing some muscles while underusing others) put the body at risk for muscular imbalances, which could eventually result in injury and poor performance. Yoga restores balance and symmetry to the body, making it the perfect complement to runners and athletes.
  • Mental Benefits
    Endurance sports take an incredible amount of focus, persistence, patience, and adaptability. An athlete can be in the best shape of his or her life, but if on race day their head is not it, neither will their body be. The practice of yoga improves mental focus by utilising both the breath and the body as an anchor for the mind. The practitioner becomes more aware of their own thoughts as they improve their ability to be fully present with their body and breath. Yoga teaches the individual to stay calm, focus, and breathe with whatever shows up on their mat, and athletes can certainly take these skills with them into their sport when the going gets tough.
  • Improved Breathing
    Lung capacity is of prime importance for runners and endurance athletes because it creates the ability to maintain an even breathing pattern through all phases of running. The better the lung capacity, the more oxygen is circulated through the system, which is most helpful for running long and strong. However, the breathing pattern used in running and other forms of aerobic exercise involves quick and shallow inhalations and exhalations. This uses only the top portion of the lungs, leaving the middle and lower portions untouched. Yogic breathing involves slow, deep inhalations and long exhalations, making use of the upper, middle, and lower portions of the lungs. Yogic breathing has been shown to increase lung capacity, and greater lung capacity increases endurance and improves overall athletic performance.

Nicole Grace
Nicole is a Yoga Teacher at Holistic Movement Studio in Collaroy. She is passionate about working with runners and endurance athletes to create a balanced approach to their training.

Resources: Yoga for the Endurance Athlete (Sarah Oliver) | Yoga for Runners (Christine Felstaed)

➺ Click here for details of our 10-week Yoga-FIT program

Three Mental Strategies for Endurance Running

As a runner, our biggest asset (or sometimes our greatest enemy) is our brain. Physical training is important, but that alone is not enough to put wings on our feet. What we feel on and off the road has a huge influence over how we perform once we lace up.

Professor Tim Noakes MD (author of acclaimed Lore or Running – and a real guru in the running world!), recommends we train our brains to cope with ‘discomfort’. Interval sessions, hill repeats, tempo runs, endurance runs – exactly the type of training sessions that should be included in our training programs. What is a hard training session one week, becomes a manageable session the following week. Why? Our brains become conditioned to accept and manage the ‘discomfort’ – twinned with an improvement in our physical conditioning.

In the Runner’s World book ‘The Runner’s Brain’, Jeff Galloway (USA Olympic Runner) shares his three mental training methods that he has used for over 40yrs:

  1. Visualise the Race

    Rehearse the outcome over and over. Imagine what you will feel like at certain stages in the race. When you will have strategic nutrition breaks, when you will walk, etc. Visualise key milestones in the race (historic building, bridge, park), where your supporters will be waiting for you, the various terrain (hills), etc. Rehearse your race step-by-step.

  2. Use Magic Words (Mantras)

    Magic words distract you from the discomfort while connects you to your inner thoughts:

    • Relax – There is no pressure on me | I am relaxed | I am enjoying the endorphins | I feel comfortable
    • Power – I feel good about myself | I know what I’m doing | I can do this | I am going to nail this
    • Free – I feel light as a feather | I am floating through the crowds | I am running smoothly
  3. Use Dirty Tricks (Mind Games)

    These are quick fixes to get you from one point to the next. Imagine wrapping a giant invisible rubber band about the runner ahead of you, start cinching him/her in towards you so that you can feed off their momentum. Another trick is to create songs of the names on posters of those who are being supported – i.e. Angela | Pamela | Sandra | Rita… “Mambo No. 5” 😚

There is no right or wrong mental strategy. What works for one person, may not necessarily work for another. The key take-out is that we should identify which mental strategy(ies) work for us and then practice them over and over again.

 

If you train your mind for running, everything else will be easy — Amby Burfoot

The first thing when starting to RUN

We get asked all the time, “What is the best way to start running?” For most, it is a case of digging out your old trainers and heading out the door for a 5km run – which you have not attempted in years.

The obvious happens! You hate the experience, it’s uncomfortable, you are shattered, your feet/shins hurt, you knees ache and your hips cause you to limp. You then decide that running is not for you and throw your trainers to the back of the cupboard. Until next year!

Hands up if this is you? We’ve all been there – but it doesn’t and shouldn’t have to be this way.

The first thing we ask people who want to start running, is what their motivation for running is. For most it is to get fit and lose weight. But more and more, we are seeing people embracing running to manage stress and balance their lifestyles. Running is absolutely fantastic for this!

Understanding your motivation for running is key. But there is a deeper level — why are you experiencing the issues that are forcing you to run?

Do you have certain fears, do you struggle with self-confidence, do you get anxious about certain things, do you have challenges with motivating yourself, do you have self-limiting beliefs – about you can and can’t achieve?

These issues are paramount and effect every single one of us, in one way or another. So going back to our original question about the first thing you need to do when starting running – the answer is ‘connecting our minds to our bodies’. For everything we think in our minds, our bodies have a reaction.

Having delivered numerous beginner running programs over the past 5-years, we have learnt that the most important element of the program is training our minds. The most important muscle in our body! Which is why we have been super-motivated to deliver a program that focuses purely on the mental side of training. We 100% believe that once we have addressed the issues that are holding us back, we can then forge ahead… in leaps and bounds.

Which is why we are beyond excited about our upcoming online program that focuses entirely on the mental side of training. If any of the above resonates with you and you are wanting to make a change to your life, then our 6-week ‘Mental Training for Athletes’ program is for you.  Starts Thurs 11 Aug, 8-9pm.

Give it a go – you have nothing to lose and everything to gain!

Let running become your ‘happy pill’

Running MentalI have been a runner for many years. It has helped me through many ups and downs. Relationship break-ups, moving countries, losing my job, making friends… and then meeting my gorgeous husband (luckily a runner too!).

Running has given me the opportunity to manage the huge number of stresses in my life and allow me to feel confident about myself. So when I hear of people embracing running as their ‘happy pill’, I truly get it!  The psychological benefits far outweigh the physical benefits of running. Which is why so many women are lacing up their trainers and hitting the paths/trails.

With so many mental and physical benefits, let running become YOUR happy pill.

Top 5 health benefits of running
  • Maintain healthy weight
  • Strengthen muscles, ligaments and joints
  • Prevents heart disease, stroke and diabetes
  • Builds strong bones – decreasing risk of osteoarthritis
  • Lowers blood pressure, raises good cholesterol, boosts immunity system
Top 5 psychological benefits of running
  • Controls depression
  • Manages stress
  • Improves self-esteem
  • Manages fatigue
  • Achievement of achieving a goal

I was never ‘taught’ to run in my early years. In fact, I was a firm believer that you could not change your running style. I was SO wrong! 360 degree turn later, I can now confidently say that running can indeed be taught. Once you have the tools and knowledge, you can embrace proper running technique. And so begins your love affair for running.

What is covered in our 5km-FIT learn-to-run program?
–  Assumes a low fitness base
–  Progresses slowly and steadily
–  Alternates between walking and running
–  Focuses on correct technique – running style
–  7-10-week structured program
–  Supportive private on-line community
–  Explore important topics relating to running, i.e. shoes, safety, injuries, more

Running shows the mind who’s boss.

If you’ve ever thought about running, let this be your sign. We would like to invite you to join us for a FREE taster session to show you the benefits of running.  We have had over 100+ women complete our learn-to-run program and who are now running on a regular basis. Some have even gone on to run half-marathons and marathons. This could be you.

Are you ready to take the next step?

Click here to register for our FREE taster session 


~ Debbie Solms | 
Beauty of Exercise