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!

Count Your Blessings

2018 was filled with many great experiences, memories, and fun times spent with friends and family. My husband and I rode our first hard-core roller coaster, we traveled to California for the first time too, bought new cars, went back and forth to Florida (our second home) to be kids in Universal, we set up and broke down so many campsites, put hours on our jet ski, trekked to Canada twice, got our fill of haunted houses in October, celebrated a year of marriage and then a year of homeownership, went to see the tree in NYC, and have more plans for December.

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This was the best tree I’ve seen – so pretty and full – and it was cut locally!!

On my own, I finished a 21-Day Sugar Detox, a 21-Day weight loss program, a round of 80 Day Obsession, and am currently in round, two week 3 of LIIFT4. I all but eliminated my migraines, started up a crochet shop, perfected a recipe for macarons, found out that baking really is my superpower, and learned which foods aren’t my friend.

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A shop in honor of my granny.

I could keep going because, in all, it was a great and productive year. But I’d be remiss not to mention the not so good. I mean, I don’t live in storybook land (although sometimes I wish I did!).

You can’t have a rainbow without a little rain…

For a while, I was feeling depressed and sad and just overall emotional about half of the time. HALF. OF. THE. TIME. There were moments when I didn’t want to do anything but stay in my pajamas. I didn’t want to go to work, wash my hair, work out, or do any of the things I actually love to do. And when I did, I was just going through the motions – there wasn’t any joy to it. After months of misery and monotony, I decided to talk to my doctor.

Thankfully, it was an easy fix. Long story short, my body couldn’t handle the drastic dip in hormones during my menstrual cycle. My doctor suggested I skip the placebo pills, and within days, my mood – and life – did a 180.

Side Note: I don’t need to get into all the details, but I will say one thing on the matter of birth control pills. It’s a personal choice that I fully believe in because of my own experience with hormone regulation. For some, the problem is The Pill itself – the side effects can be brutal – but for me, it was the lack of one – the side effects of which were also brutal. Moving on.

29 and feeling fine!

Yesterday I turned 29, something I’ve been dreading for a while because it’s so close to 30, which is even closer to 40, and it feels like the prime of my life is over, and what have I even accomplished?

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Birthday present from my husband – a “Rooster” tribute bear. Because binge watching The Ranch is one of my favorite activities.

Now that I’m feeling better, I’m able to coast into my 29th year with a positive outlook and some pretty big goals to tackle including reading 12 quality books, saving more money, traveling to three new places, and completing a round (or two) of Shaun T’s new program, Transform:20.

The power of gratitude.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember all of the good when things feel sucky or unfavorable. This year, I’ve decided to journal a little bit each day so I can focus more on the positives. In the morning I’ll write down five things I’m grateful for and at night I’ll record the best thing that happened during the day. Super simple! I’m sure it will take less than ten minutes, and the compounded results will be invaluable.

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I love the play on words. And this mug. And pretty much everything about this snarky photo.

Daily reflections serve two main purposes:

1) Long Term – At the end of the year, it will be fun to look back at accomplishments and happy moments.

2) Short Term – When skies are gray, it helps to reflect on the good and know that a sunny day is just around the corner.

I encourage you to start a gratitude journal or practice. You’d be surprised by the magic that happens when you start counting your blessings.

Peace, Love, Zen
DS

Happy New Year!

Chinese New Year, that is.

In a way, I’ve been a little slow going this year. As Martha Stewart would say, I’ve got a lot of “good things” going on. But it’s definitely time go jump back into the swing of things, and what better way to do that than with a celebration?

Celebrations!

When I was younger, my grandmother gave me a book of Celebrations around the World. That was and still is one of my favorite books. I’m Catholic, so I celebrate Easter, Christmas, and the rest of the commercialized American holidays, but it was always fun to read about Purim, Dia de los Muertos, Eid ul-Fitr, St. Nicholas Day, Holi, and many others. I loved seeing the colorful outfits, reading the descriptions of the delicious foods, and learning about traditions that were completely new to me.

Chinese New Year

Goodies from my work celebration: hot & sour soup, traditional Chinese desserts, green apple bubble tea, and general tso chicken.

One of the most colorful celebrations is Chinese New Year. It’s a 15-day tradition to welcome in the year with parades, yummy foods, gifts of good fortune, and family time. In the days before the New Year, families clean their houses from top to bottom to get rid of last years bad luck and welcome the good health, happiness, and fortune of the New Year.

Red Envelopes

The Chinese see red as the symbol of joy, energy, happiness, and good luck. During the new year they place crisp money in red envelopes and give them as gifts to family and friends. This is a way of wishing the recipient a happy new year filled with good luck. Traditionally you accept the envelope with two hands and to be polite, do not open the envelopes in front of the giver.

Chinese Zodiac

2017 is the year of the Rooster, the fire Rooster, to be more precise – a combination that only happens once every 60 years. Those born during the year of the Fire Rooster are thought to be very trustworthy and responsible with their work.

Unfortunately, according to Chinese Astrology, it’s unlucky if your birth sign matches the current zodiac sign. Take extra precautions to avoid any dangers or warnings. For everyone else, however, 2017 is said to be a year of good fortune and happiness. I think we can all rejoice in hearing that!

For more information about the Rooster Sign, Chinese Zodiac Signs, and Chinese culture in general, check out this comprehensive site.

Happy New Year and may it be filled with health, wealth, and happiness!