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!

Finding the Balance: Self Care

To be honest, I wasn’t sure how I wanted to start out this series. There are so many great topics on finding the balance that they almost compete with each other. Then it hit me. Like a ton of bricks in my intestines.

This morning I woke up at 5 am, changed into my gym clothes, got some water, and headed down to the basement to bust out my 61-minute workout. Everything was going great until about 10 minutes in when I started to feel queasy. I pressed pause. Tried again. Tapped out at 16 minutes.

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This. Never. Happens. This is how I know I’m sick. So, after much internal debate, I called out for the first time in almost two years at my job. Time for a little self-care.

Feeling Stressed

I’ve been feeling very stressed lately – at home and work. Its never ending – there is ALWAYS something to be worried or uneasy about. Even when I’m having a good time on the weekend, I’m reminded of what’s to come on Monday.

If you’ve read any of my Sugar Detox posts, you know that I haven’t been feeling well since I started cutting the crap out of my diet – ironic, right? Even after two months, nothing has leveled out. I went through extensive allergy and blood testing that cost over $800 and I’m no closer to finding out the cause of my discomfort. Talk about frustration.

Last week I talked about not having the time to fit it all in. Well, I think I peaked yesterday. It got to a point where I just couldn’t manage – it was like someone dropped all my marbles and I couldn’t pick them up fast enough before they rolled off into the unknown. Before bed, my mind was dissecting the day, and I went to sleep pretty sick to my stomach about all of my tasks, deadlines, and responsibilities. Not good.

Fun Ways to Self-Care

How often do you stop and do things for yourself? I think the only two things I consistently do for myself are read, work out, and pray/meditate each morning. And oddly enough, working out stresses my body out more.

Here are a few ideas – they are by no means a complete list – but they can help get you started finding the balance in your everyday.

Color

Adult coloring books are so fun! I thought it was great when they first became popular because here I was finishing up my old Disney or Barbie books, when I could have been fancying up a page of curse words. Bull shit, am I right? If that’s not your cup of tea, there are mild versions of flowers, landscapes, houses, cats – you name it. Just get yourself a pack of crayons, markers, or colored pencils and have at it. You don’t even have to stay in the lines 😉

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Read

Okay, so maybe reading isn’t fun for everyone, but I read over 50 books last year, so it’s definitely entertaining for me. The thing is, you could read about ANYTHING. If you can think it, someone has probably written about it. I’m a crime fiction or PD girl, usually, but I also enjoy a little chick lit – Sophie Kinsella, Jodi Picoult, and Liane Moriarty. Curl up with a book, a cuppa, (I read a lot of Aussie lit!), a blanket, and get lost in another world. Somehow Sophie’s books always make me feel better about myself. Win!

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This is a must-read for EVERYONE.

Exercise

Now, I don’t expect everyone to wake up before the sun and bang out an hour-long workout. I won’t impose my antics on you. Exercise comes in many forms – long walks on the beach, chasing a toddler on a mission, trip to the dog park, line dancing, club dancing, watching dirty dancing (kidding) – you get the idea. It doesn’t have to feel like work, but exercise is shown to make people happy, so why wouldn’t you at least try? Don’t believe me? Take a lesson from Elle Woods.

Craft

Do you crochet? Bake? Needlepoint? Arrange flowers? Sew buttons? If it relaxes you, find time to do it every day. If you get upset that your version doesn’t look like the Pinterest version, this one might not be for you. Shop on Etsy instead.

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My happy place is in the kitchen. These are Pinterest inspired.

Bathe

Hot tub. Pool. Beach. Bathtub. Pick the one that interests you and take a trip – even if it’s just ten paces away to the next room. Nothing beats a good soak, especially if there are BUBBLES! Pour yourself a glass of wine (or sparkling juice!), play some soothing tunes, and light a candle. As an added bonus, throw in some Epsom salts, essential oils, or a fun bath bomb. Ahhh the relaxation.

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Halloween Special bubble bar from LUSH. So many suds!

Uh, note: I wouldn’t recommend any of the above for anything but a tub 😉

Take a Happiness Challenge

I’m on day 99 of my second #100HappyDays Challenge. The main idea is to post a picture on social media of something that makes you happy each day for 100 days. Is it possible? Well, I can attest that all days won’t be happy. In fact, some will be downright miserable. But, if you can find something good – just one little thing – in each day, your life will be a little bit brighter. I’d recommend you at least try it. Its fun to look for a piece of happiness each day and it’s nice to look back on those moments after the challenge has ended.

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My inspiration.

Do Yoga / Meditate / Pray

This really could be its own topic. Matter of fact, it might be (Gucci Mane voice). I’ll leave the good stuff for another day, but if you’re into quiet time, you might want to investigate the power of prayer, meditation, and yoga. They do wonders for the body and soul.

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Don’t lose sight of you

You can still take care of others and do things for yourself. It doesn’t make you selfish. Quite the opposite, actually. It helps you do everything a little bit better because you’re you at your best. I feel like I should start reciting a Dr. Seuss poem right now!

How do you relax? How do you take care of yourself? I want to know!

Check out the first post and stay tuned next week to learn about finding the balance at work.

Peace, Love, Zen

DS