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!

My C25K Journey – Weeks 7 & 8

Wow! I’ve been MIA for over two months, and I’m sorry.

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Happy Homeowners!!!

We just bought our first house, and while it might not be the best excuse, I’ve been extremely busy packing, unpacking, painting, and the like, and haven’t had one moment to catch you up on my C25K progress. So here we go.

I finished the program at the end of October. It was tough, but I did it and ran a 5K with my husband to celebrate.

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Zombie Run

Work was pretty hectic during that time, and it was a challenge to find opportunities during the day to go to the gym. The weather wasn’t favorable for morning or evening runs at home, and when I did have time, I had headaches that made it difficult to even get out of bed. Oh, the challenges.

30 minutes a day, 3 times a week, 8 weeks total

Week 7 & 8 Routines

Start with a 5-minute warmup, run for 25-30 minutes, and savor a 5-minute cooldown.

The last two weeks of the program I ran whenever and wherever I could. Oh, how I missed the treadmill! One day was around 70 degrees and humid, and my body was so itchy as I was running that I couldn’t stand it. The moment I went inside, it stopped. Go figure.

I’ve learned that it’s easier for me to run inside for longer lengths of time because of the air and unpredictable NY weather. The 25 minutes passed quickly as I ran in place. When I did laps around my apartment complex, I felt like I’d been running as long as Forrest Gump. No humidity = happy lungs.img_15093174728472105941280.jpgI realize that not every run is going to be perfect (even though I strive for it) and I won’t always get a mid-day workout in (my favorite time), but a run is a run, no matter how it gets done. The fact that I actually enjoy running now is probably my biggest and most satisfying accomplishment.

To see what happened at week 6, click here!

Will you take the challenge?

My C25K Journey – Week 6

Week 6 encroached a bit on week 7, but for a good reason: I got married!!! I took a few days off to plan, celebrate, and enjoy the time with my new HUSBAND! I seriously couldn’t be happier.

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My love!

And, oh yeah, I only have two weeks left in the program.

30 minutes a day, 3 times a week, 8 weeks total

Week 5 Routine

Start with a 5-minute warmup. Varied 5-22 minute jogs. Finally, savor a 5-minute cooldown.

Over the last 1.5 weeks, I ran Wednesday (10/11), Tuesday (10/17), and Wednesday (10/18) at Crunch on my lunch break. I have to say – it is hot as hell in that gym (especially when wearing leggings- first and LAST time)! I like it cold because my body tends to heat up quickly, especially when running. I can’t be the only one.

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Pre-workout – before the sweaty mess.

I was a little scared to run for 22 minutes straight after taking such a long break in between runs, but it worked out fine. It definitely helps to distract myself with something on Netflix or an audiobook.

It comes down to this: my body can do it, but my mind still isn’t on the same page. Each minute I run I have to tell myself I can do it, that I’ve done it before and can do it again, that I got this. And I do.

To see what happened at week 5, click here!

My C25K Journey – Week 5

I’m in the home stretch – just three weeks left!

30 minutes a day, 3 times a week, 8 weeks total

Week 5 Routine

Start with a 5-minute warmup. Varied 5-20 minute jogs. Finally, savor a 5-minute cooldown.

Last week I ran Wednesday at home after work, and Thursday and Friday at the gym on my lunch break. The first time on the treadmill was a little awkward because I was so used to running outside, and had no idea that I needed to use the treadmill workout on my Fitbit (see pic below). Fortunately, the second time was a much better experience and I actually enjoy running both inside and out.

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Clearly there’s a treadmill option for a reason 😉

Since week 2, I’ve been nervous about running for 20 minutes straight. The thought was so daunting – just I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it. Well, I proved myself wrong, because not only did I rock it, but I could have KEPT going. It probably also helped that I was re-watching Stranger Things as I ran.

My lungs are powerful, and my mind is in the right place to continue running at least three times a week after this program ends. I’ve already signed up for a Zombie 5K in celebration – October 28th.

I think I can call myself a runner now.

To see what happened at the halfway mark, click here!

My C25K Journey – Week 4

I made it to the halfway point! Never in a million years did I think I would be running three times a week and actually enjoying it.

30 minutes a day, 3 times a week, 8 weeks total

Week 4 Routine

Start with a 5-minute warmup. Jog for 3 minutes, walk for 90 seconds, jog for 5 minutes, walk for 2.5 minutes, jog for 3 minutes, walk for 90 seconds, jog for 5 minutes. Finally, savor a 5-minute cooldown.

Last week I ran Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. It was nice to spread it out a bit because my legs were starting to feel like Jell-O. The weather was finally favorable two out of the three days. What a difference a few degrees makes!

I love these shoes!!

I bought a new pair of sneakers that caught my eye for the bright colors and the price tag – $39. Compared to my everyday workout kicks, these new ones are lighter and allow my feet to breath, which is perfect for outdoor running.

I also decided to renew my gym membership at Crunch so I can finally go through with the lunchtime workouts I planned – regardless of the weather.

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New key tag 🙂 Haven’t been to a gym in years.

Last week was the first time (ever, I think) that I ran for 5 minutes without stopping to catch my breath or complain that I couldn’t do it. You know what? It really is all mental. I just put Demi Lovato’s “Sorry, Not Sorry” on repeat and sucked it up.

The way I see it, I could blame my asthma, my chronic migraines, and my Lyme disease for not being able to workout OR I could quit making excuses, get it done, and reap the rewards of a slimmer, healthier me. I’ll take the latter.

To check out Week 3, click here.

My C25K Journey – Week 3

Just after a run in 90 degree weather. Yikes!

Week 3 is officially over! Even though I created a kick-ass playlist, I’ve found myself running in silence and really relishing the me time. I must admit that I enjoy running.

30 minutes a day, 3 times a week, 8 weeks total

Week 3 Routine

Start with a 5-minute warmup. Jog for 90 seconds, walk for 90, jog for 3 minutes, walk for 3. Repeat. Finally, savor a 5-minute cooldown.

Last week I ran Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. What is up with this “fall” weather? It hit 90 degrees over the weekend, and I had no choice but to get that run in. I remarked to a friend that I could literally cut the air with a knife – it was that thick and gross.

You can probably guess that I’m not a summer person. I love the cool, crisp autumn air. The crunch of the leaves underfoot as I jog. The dewy air that leaves droplets of moisture on the grass in the early morning.

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Forgot to log my workout, but my Fitbit caught half of it!

I’ve been practicing better breathing techniques as I progress through the C25K program, and as a result have felt less winded. However, I’ve been experiencing some pain in my shins and the balls of my feet – and it makes me wonder if I’ll be able to keep up with a 20-minute jog. Only time will tell. At least the next few workouts aren’t intimidating anymore.

Click here to see how Week 2 went!

My C25K Journey – Week 2

wp-image-1807175019This week I succumbed to a little indulging on Pinterest. Running socks? I need them. Wireless headphones? I need them too. Hydration Sleeve? Oh, I definitely need that! Fortunately, for my wallet, those “needs” passed very quickly.

I have to admit that I’m proud of myself for sticking with this for two full weeks. Jogging for 30 minutes is an easy way to add a good 4,000+ steps to your day.

The biggest fear I’ve had to conquer so far is running in front of other people. Do my legs look weird? Do I run like a chicken? Or a frog? What if I’m too slow? Then I realized that at least I’m working on it. At least I’m trying. At least I’m lapping all of those still sitting on the couch.

30 minutes a day, 3 times a week, 8 weeks total

Week 2 Routine

Start with a 5-minute warmup, then alternate 90 seconds of jogging with 2 minutes of walking for six rounds, and finally savor a 5-minute cooldown.

Last week I ran Tuesday, Saturday, and Sunday. Like the week prior, the weather wasn’t really in my favor, but I pushed on. I noticed that my exercise-induced asthma, which has been lying dormant for about a year now, started to flare. The humidity was so thick that the air felt heavy and wet – like a steamy shower. Hoping for some cooler days as we transition over to fall.

Sunday I switched it up and drove to a local rail trail to do my run. While this was a nice flat and shaded path, I lost quite a bit of time driving to the destination. I think I’ll stick to running around my apartment complex for now.

I peeked at the workouts to come and have to admit that I’m a little nervous about Week 5. Fortunately, I still have some time to practice my running skills (or lack thereof) before then!

Two weeks down, six to go. Click here to see how I started and finished Week 1.