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Yoga as Cross Training for Runners

18 December

For Web (9)Creative Commons License photo credit: Robert Bejil Photography


This Off Season, Cross Train with Yoga for Improved Athletic Performance

The off season is an ideal time to add yoga and flexibility to your training routine to help you build a stronger, more limber and balanced body, recover faster, and reduce your chances of injury all while increasing strength and focus and improving performance once your in season rolls back around.

Here are three things to try this off season to improve your flexibility, strength and ultimately your performance:

1) Foam Rolling

To increase range of motion, reduce stiffness, increase blood flow and speed recovery and create a more limber, agile runner, incorporating myofascial release with a foam roller is a must! It’s even better when you do intervals of stretching to reduce muscle tension and your chances of injury, and improve overall performance.

 Foam rollers are available in various lengths and densities. I like a 3 foot long high density roller. I also like using a yoga mat with my foam roller, so I can go back and forth from rolling to stretching and yoga poses. It’s ideal to wear compression gear while foam rolling and drink lots of water, just like you would after a deep tissue massage.

 Go out and get yourself a foam roller this off season and try this quick foam roll and stretch sequence:

2) Breathing

Many yoga classes also teach you breathing techniques to relax your mind. You can practice these breathing techniques as part of your training so you can apply it on race day. As an athlete, you know that nothing feels better than being “in the zone” and performing at your peak. Yoga can enhance your athletic performance by training both your mind and your body. If you tend to get the pre race jitters, try this quick breathing exercise to feel calm and focused for your best race day…


3) Athletic Yoga (Power Yoga / Vinyasa Yoga)

 All yoga is not the same. Classes vary from restorative based focusing on breathing, alignment and recovery to very challenging, strength and endurance based classes that will definitely make you sweat. Cross Training with yoga is a great compliment your strength and conditioning and will challenge you in very different ways from your running routine. The off season is and ideal time to experiment and try a few different classes. Eventually you will find the style class and teacher you really connect with and can commit to.

Try these two quick sequences and see how Athletic Yoga is great cross training:

 Yoga with Weights for Strength:

 Yoga for CORE Strength:

Cross training with yoga helps overcome plateaus and boredom and can maximize physical health and achieving a strong, balanced body. But human beings are creatures of habit.   Though a fitness routine can bring a sense of order to life in an increasingly chaotic world, it can be counterproductive when working out – following the same exercise regimen over and over not only gets boring, but can lead to exercise plateaus that can decrease your results or even cause injury.  Your body will become accustomed to the routine, and it can become increasingly difficult for you to meet your fitness goals.

Karen Dubs specializes in yoga and flexibility for endurance athletes and team sports. She is also a Personal Stretcher, helping athletes incorporate flexibility and recovery training.


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