Right now, I pretty much stick to running. Sure, I bike and swim a bit, but it’s all just endurance training. To be a more well-rounded athlete, I need to improve two key areas: strength and flexibility. I know my way around the gym pretty well, having started lifting back in high school to get stronger for wrestling. I still do it every now and then, but not very consistently. I’ve been working on a triathlon-based strength training program, looking into one that makes sense for me. The benefits of strength training for an endurance athlete are many; rather than write them up myself, I’ll let this article from Greatist tell you.
My weakness has been flexibility. I don’t really stretch before running. In fact, you probably shouldn’t. After running, however, I should be stretching. R does it, but I usually do not. I’m not completely inflexible, though. I can touch my toes, bend and twist in ways that I imagine so-called “unflexible” people cannot. But by not stretching, I am missing out on the health benefits: flexibility, reduced soreness, etc. This morning I woke up and thought, let’s try some yoga!
Of course, I know nothing about yoga, other than the pants and mats and namaste. Basically any cliche I’ve seen on T.V. So I did what any millennial does when they are curious about something: I Googled it. Thank the Lord for YouTube! Up popped thousands and thousands of videos, ranging from the general to the specific to the downright frightening. Hot yoga, cold yoga, yoga for beginners, advanced yoga, yoga for a healthy digestive system, yoga for people who hate yoga. It was a bit overwhelming. I refined my search to yoga for beginners, and found some more realistic options. Ultimately, because I didn’t want to be lost, I selected the below video:
I really liked this video. It was 20 minutes long, which is short enough for my attention span, but it only went over three different poses, all for the beginner. She was able to spend a decent amount of time on each pose, and offered some alternatives if you couldn’t complete a given pose (I don’t have the flexibility to have my heels stay on the ground during Downward Facing Dog). She also has a soothing voice, which helps with the breathing. I would watch a bit of the video, then rewind and do the movements with her. I didn’t have a band for the third pose, so I used a belt instead. I really needed a longer one, though.
I could really feel the stretch in my legs during the poses, especially the first two. The last one REALLY gets to your IT band, which is a notorious injury spot for endurance athletes. I don’t have a history of injuries when running, but I’m not getting any younger so I might as well start preparing. I hope to continue incorporating yoga and stretching into my routine. It helps relax my muscles after a week of hard running and training, and can give me some much-needed flexibility. I’ll also look to add some strength training again. It’ll make me a stronger runner and help with recovery. If I do what I’m planning to do, I’ll need all the help I can get!