Race goals are measurable and quantifiable. You can dutifully log how many miles you ran or biked. Your times will improve and you will feel your body getting stronger. But how do you measure your rest time? It's not easy to do, which is why this important piece of training often gets overlooked. Yoga provides an opportunity to be an active participant in your rest and recovery. There is an off day on your training plan, usually on a Monday after the longer workouts that fit nicely in the weekend. Off is easy. We all usually get that. I'm off -- dinner, couch, TV, off. It's the easy days that can be a bit more tricky.
Even if your easy day is only a few miles, another run with tight and tired muscles might not feel that great. You are still using the same fatigued muscles and joints in the same movement patterns, but for a shorter period. Adding in a yoga class as active rest and recovery could be exactly what you need to make the next hard day feel a bit easier.
Just as there are many styles of yoga, from slow and gentle to hot and challenging, there are different ways to incorporate yoga into your training cycle. Your yoga practice will best serve you if it has an inverse relationship to your training efforts. When you are immersed in pre-race training and getting your workouts on the road or in the pool, a slow-paced yoga practice is the best choice. This slow to moderate yoga class can fit on your easy day, or if gentle enough, even your off day (although that couch can be really appealing). During the off -season, a more challenging yoga class can provide a way to cross-train and increase strength and flexibility.
There are intangible benefits to a regular yoga practice as well. Slowing down and taking time to check in with your body during class can help you uncover and correct imbalances that, if ignored, could contribute to overuse injuries. Building deep core strength, exploring focus and balance during one-legged standing poses and taking time to practice different breathing techniques can complement your race-specific training. Plus, there's that nice little rest at the end, and who can't use more of that?
To learn more about how yoga can fit into your race training and experience a yoga practice designed for athletes, join me for a 2 hour Yoga for Athletes workshop at Balance Studio on March 23rd. www.balancestudiocohasset.com