How Yoga is Making Me a Better Runner

Dee Dee is a New York based freelance writer, fitness enthusiast, and bibliophile. We’ve know each other for about 25 years, and I’m so grateful she volunteered to guest post this week! Read on to see how she developed a yoga practice after running her first marathon. Then go follow her on Twitter @cityofdeedee.

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First came running…

I started running in 2013 after moving back to New York from Florida. I was interning in New York City and struggling to find a full-time job, so I thought picking up a hobby like running would be a nice way to boost my self-confidence and distract me from obsessing over my job search. Well, long story short, it worked. After my first 5K, which felt like a marathon, I signed up for more races and trained for longer distances before running my first real marathon in 2016. After crossing the finish line, I decided to try it one more time, so I signed up for the 2018 race.

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Crossing the finish line in 2016!

My goal for the second time I did the marathon was to do better than the first because I knew I wasn’t gonna be doing this again anytime soon, but that goal got deterred by shin splints. Anyone that runs knows that shin splints can completely suck and your training can be severely compromised when you have them. I tried everything I could think of (or Google) to reduce the pain, but nothing worked fast enough. It didn’t help that I had a job that had me on my feet most of the day despite it being a “desk job” so taking a break from running didn’t make a difference.

Then came yoga…

Eventually, I figured I’d give yoga a shot because it felt like it was the only thing I didn’t try. Plenty of blogs recommended yoga for recovery, but I never cared for it, even after trying it numerous times. I was a runner. I liked going my version of fast (I am actually really slow compared other runners) and hard, and yoga felt like the exact opposite. But I was desperate. The NYC Marathon was less than two months away, and I needed to be able to cross that finish line. So with all of that in mind, I reluctantly began my yoga journey.

I started each morning with a few poses I found online that I could easily incorporate into my morning routine. I got some relief from them, which made it more tolerable to do, so I worked my way into 5-10 minute routines. By late October I was doing it twice a day, in the morning for pain relief, and in the evening to help me sleep. It took a lot of mental effort to persist through a workout that forced me to slow down and pay close attention to my body, but as the benefits revealed themselves week by week, I couldn’t see a reason to stop doing it.

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A little backyard yoga.

By the time the marathon came around, the pain left, but my desire to continue with my yoga practice was only beginning. I decided to hit up my best friend from college who had experience with yoga and together, we decided to offer each other encouragement and support from a distance as we pursued our journeys.

So, what comes next????

Since the marathon, I’ve done a good job at keeping up with my yoga practice and making an effort to study it off the mat too! Even though I haven’t been running as much, I like to think that yoga is making me a better runner. I’m learning that so much about yoga is letting things go, good or bad; being stuck on either prevents progress, and no one wants to be held back by dwelling on an especially tricky move or continuously thinking back to that ONE time you did an especially good down dog. Focusing on any one of those things don’t help you move forward because they bring you back into the past.

I used to spend a lot of time beating myself up if I couldn’t run as far or as fast some days; especially during marathon training. Now that I’m working running back into my routine (I stopped for nearly two months after crossing the finish line), I’m a lot more forgiving of myself and where I am. I acknowledge where I am, promise myself to work harder and not give up, then pretty much leave it alone.

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Personally, the mental/emotional changes that are taking place due to my new workout are way more valuable for the physical changes because I’ve always had a hard time letting anything go, but I am excited to have an exercise that’s helping me change my mindset just in time for the new year!

Have you ever started something that you didn’t think you’d like but ended up loving? Or, do you have something that worked out for you in 2018 that you’re taking into the new year? Let me know I wanna hear from you!

Get snacking!

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Austin Banach, Culinary-Trained Private Chef and Independent Health, Fitness, and Lifestyle Coach, is here to talk about all things snacking (my favorite subject!). And who would know better than a professional? See what Austin has to say about finding healthy snacks, avoiding office vending machines, and looking at snacking in a whole new light. Enjoy!

You can’t out exercise a bad diet. I sneer at this saying – because it’s right. I love snacking. I used to say to myself, “its ok if I eat this (insert sweet or salty snack of choice here), I’ll just do 10 extra pushups tomorrow.” Well, that didn’t work out very well!

I learned a couple things along the way:

  1. The word “snacking,” alone, is getting a bad rap these days.
  2. Healthier snacks can actually improve your overall energy, health, and nutrition.

I recently created a poll on Facebook and asked my friends to call-out the first things that came to mind when they thought about the word “snack.” Most of the answers included pizza, cake, cookies, Cheez -Its, Goldfish Crackers, and other salty, decedent, or seemingly guilty pleasures. I only saw three healthier options: carrots (with no cake at the end), mangos, and castor oil (uhhh..ok).

But, what if instead of the word “snack,” we retrained our minds to use the word “energy”? Would it then be possible to think: “Man, if I eat this, I can do 10 fewer pushups tomorrow”?

Now I know what you are thinking: “Healthy snacks aren’t as fun or enjoyable.” Just as I would never completely give up a cookie, cracker, or piece of cake every once in a while, I wouldn’t expect anyone else to stop snacking. That’s just absurd!

Let’s face it, we can’t get rid of snacking, we just need to rethink the choices. It is a known fact that most humans can’t go 4-5 hours at a time without a snack or meal because our bodies start to fatigue and crash. Boost it up with a trifecta of nutrients to keep you going even when the toughest slump or temptation hits!

Fail to plan and plan to fail.

It’s true. You’ll need to make an effort to pack these snacks ahead of time because there’s a slim chance that your office or break room will have a big plate of carrots and hummus or a smoothie fountain (at least not where I work). I know that when I’m stranded with a growling tummy and no back-up plan, I’ll eat the first treat in sight. I always put aside an extra 15 minutes or so in the morning to get a few snacks ready for the day ahead of me. When the snacking alert goes off in my body, I’m super pumped that I took the time to prepare for it!

Give any of these a try and see what happens to your mood and energy:

  1. Trail mix (avoid sugar if possible), dried fruit, nuts, seeds
  2. Fruits or vegetables with almond butter (Ants on a Log – that’s fun, right?)
  3. Protein bars – there are a lot of good ones to choose from, just watch the added sugar
  4. Fruit!
  5. Greek yogurt (with nuts, honey, fruit)
  6. Avocado
  7. Smoothies

You can’t out exercise a bad diet, but your body can make that exercise easier with a good diet.

This post was written by Austin Banach. For more information, tips, or to sign up for health coaching, visit austinbanach.com.