I learn from my training and practice sessions every day. By paying disciplined attention to form and breath during your workouts, you’ll improve your sport performance, as well as your mental focus. I want to help your training and racing become a fulfilling part of your life experience—another way to build strength (in the form of sport skill, speed, and endurance), flexibility (the ability to maintain equanimity on hard days and through stressful situations), and balance (engagement in various healthy, wide-ranging, complementary activities). You’ll gain insight about what to make of your existence.
Sage Rountree – Triangle on the Track
The ambitious plan of compensating for a week that lagged in the exercise stakes had me sweating through my Saturday with a Bikram class followed by a 4.2 mile hike/run in the Santa Monica Mountains. In hindsight, it was an overzealous plan; nap time beckoned when I got home, but not before I’d reclined into a warm bath to help soothe the aches that niggled my lower back, ankles, and knees.
As I write this post hours later, I feel revived and ache-free. Happy too, as I will be sharing some insights into yoga and running with yoga-for-athletes pro: Sage Rountree.
Sage Rountree is a runner, yoga teacher, and endurance sports coach. She’s also the author of several books on yoga for athletes including The Athlete’s Guide to Recovery, as well as contributor to Runner’s World, Yoga Journal, and more recently, MindBodyGreen. I came across her name months ago while reading another blog. I can’t remember the particulars of the post’s content but I do remember being intrigued about the running and yoga combination, and how Sage demystified yoga for competitive athletes; showing how a tailored practice can complement a training regime. While I am by no means a competitive athlete, I am a keen hiker who is trying to weave short sprints into a workout routine that also includes yoga classes (from Bikram, to Yin).
This Q&A couldn’t have been scheduled at a better time, given how apropos Sage’s insights are after my Saturday sweat fest. They also serve as a reminder of how important it is to exercise moderation and listen to one’s intuition.
I’m looking forward to continuing this series of Q&A sessions with Sage on running and yoga. If you have anything you’d like to ask, please leave a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sage is open to answering all questions. For now, read on…
Q&A with Sage Rountree
1. As a non-runner, but an avid hiker, what’s the best way to start a running regime?
I call it “walk with run breaks.” Wear your trail running shoes instead of hiking boots, and after 10-15 minutes of walking, break into a slow run for a minute or two. Resume walking until you’re inspired to run again. Over time, the length of these run breaks will grow, so you’ll be doing a run with walk breaks, and eventually you can drop the walking entirely.
2. Bikram Yoga has been my main fitness regime though the heat is too much for an every day practice. What’s the best way to combine hot yoga with a running regime, per week?
The closer you get to a peak event, whether it’s your first 5K or your 50th marathon, the more mellow your yoga practice should be. I’d do the hot practice on one or two easy run days each week, or let it be the main physical activity for that day. Don’t dig yourself a deep hole of fatigue by stacking too much intensity in any one day, and as you approach the race, dial back the physical part of the yoga practice.
3. What are the top ‘watch outs’ & ‘to dos’ for beginner runners?
Go to your local specialty running store and get fitted for shoes specific to your feet and gait. Beyond that, listen to your body. Breathe however feels natural, walk whenever you need to, drink when you’re thirsty—don’t overthink it. And don’t rush to reach some arbitrary goal immediately, like going couch-to-marathon in four months. Giving your running time to develop organically will help you enjoy running as a lifelong practice.
Well fitted gear makes for a successful hike/run
4. Trail running has its cautions – uneven paths, natural vegetation etc. Any advice on staying safe?
Maintain your focus by holding your gaze a few feet ahead of you. Run with a buddy. And expect to fall—it happens! The benefits of off-road running far outweigh the risks. As you get used to the trails, you’ll be developing core strength, proprioception (your sense of your body in space), and lower-leg strength that will prevent the likelihood of a bad fall.
Trailing through the Santa Monica Mountains
5. What are the top 3 yoga poses to help a runner warm up, and top 3 to cool down?
Warmup should be dynamic, moving in and out of a few poses with the breath. I like to tip into and out of Warrior III a few times on each leg, and to do a few rounds of sun salutations or half salutes (just the front end). Rising onto tiptoes a few times will also help wake up your lower leg.
After, do what feels good! I like a squat to stretch legs and back; pyramid to get into the hips, hamstrings, and calves; and dancer to stretch quads and hip flexors.
6. Yoga makes one more flexible, and running requires a bit of resistance to prevent injury. Tell me more..
That’s right. A good runner has some stiffness for efficient energy transfer to the ground; if you’re too flexible, you’re inefficient, and you can definitely be less stable in your joints, too. I expand on this greatly in my latest book, The Runner’s Guide to Yoga. Runners need just enough flexibility to move fluidly through the stride—a hiccup in your stride due to stiffness can mean an overuse injury down the road. We *don’t* have to get our feet behind our heads!
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