What Yoga Taught Me … About Running

For years I forced myself to run four or five times a week. I would do 30 minutes or so, and essentially hated every single step. I am not someone who ever found a love of running. I don’t feel it when I am doing it, and after running, I often do not feel well. It tends to trigger my inherited migraines, and my stomach is often displeased as well.

So, four years ago, I stopped.
And it’s been great.

For some reason, recently, I decided to play around with the idea of running trails. I have many friends who do, and there is an amazing trail half marathon in my town and trail system around the Thousand Hills State Park.

As I have done some running over the past 5 or 6 weeks, I have been working on my mindset and am realizing how much yoga has taught me about running.

Before yoga, when I ran it was always to push — to run farther or faster – each time. I felt the need to be competitive if I signed up for races and to set goals that pushed myself.

There’s nothing wrong with that. Except, I didn’t enjoy running. I thought focusing on the competitive nature would make it more enjoyable. I love sports and competition.

However, this time as I started jogging, I decided to treat my runs like I do my yoga.

Yoga is not a competition. Each practice is its own practice and should not be compared to previous practices. I’m not competing with anyone or even with myself. I show up, do what feels ok, and move on.

As I set out to run, I know how much time I have, but other than that, I set no requirements. If I do a run/walk loop around the lake with my beagle, and that’s it – great. If I decide to go around again after dropping off the beagle, great. If I wake up and decide I only want to walk, I walk.

I am also not trying to push myself to go faster day to day or week to week. Some days I see from the tracking that I went a little faster, but I don’t carry that forward to what I expect the next time I run.

We all have days when yoga is hard, where we don’t have the energy or the strength or the desire to do a hard, full practice or to hold poses for long or tackle a challenging flow. The same is true with running. Some days it’s not happening or in us, while other days the running is a little easier.

Today, I ran in my first race in four years — the Sunrise Royal Oaks 10k in Kirksville on the trail system around Thousand Hills State Park, which includes part of the FLATS Trail Half Marathon course. I set a goal to try and focus on enjoying the race. I planned to take in the beautiful course, to notice the sunrise, to take pictures of the lake views, to breathe in the fresh air.

I knew I could finish and didn’t plan to run the entire thing. I gave myself permission to stop, to walk, to _______. Whatever happened, I knew I would finish, that I would feel accomplished and pleased.

And I did pretty well. I had moments; I am a naturally competitive person, so there were moments when I would think about my time or wonder if I should try and push up a hill instead of walking.

But, again, I came back to what I have learned from yoga. I brought my focus back to the point. Just as I bring my focus back to the breath in practice when my mind wanders, during the race, I brought my mind back to my hopes for the race.

I’m still not someone who loves running and do not think I ever will be. I am ok with that. But I will continue working on my mindset and bringing what yoga has taught me into other areas of my life.

And I am excited about that.

Thanks to all those in Kirksville who put together a beautiful race this morning. It was “fun.” 🙂
Enjoy some of the pictures I took along the way:

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I help busy career and family-focused individuals feel stronger by putting themselves back on their priority list and into their schedules. I value community and safe yoga, laid-back and heart-forward practices. 500 E-RYT (Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher) through Yoga Alliance with over 500 hours of accredited training and 2,500 hours of leading yoga and meditation for my community. Online Yoga Concierge, Owner: You, Yourself, and Yoga in, Kirksville, MO

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