If running were like yoga
If I'm being honest [and isn't that what this space is for after all? honesty?] I am not the most patient person. I can be high strung and impatient, my brain moves far too fast for the rest of my body and I can rarely sit still. On the one hand my NEAT levels are probably off the charts. On the other hand I need to learn how to be more patient and still.
Running — while still one of my favorite ways to exercise — helps to expend excess energy but has never been good at helping me ease my mind. Instead it often adds to the chaos. Creating worry around my pace, or will I get injured, or can I keep going even though I am uncomfortable.
And then I started doing yoga. Yoga is helping me to learn patience. To learn to sit in uncomfortable situations. To calm my mind and breath through physical discomfort [ NOT to be confused with injury]. And the deeper I get in my yoga practice I can't help but wonder, what if running were more like yoga?
More focus on mechanics and form.
A good yoga teacher, in my opinion, knows when students are straining to achieve a posture they are not yet ready for and helps correct their form. Modifications are encouraged, staying in the proper alignment and form is more important than how "bendy" you can get. So what if you cannot touch your toes, that's not the point of the class. In running so often form and mechanics are an afterthought. Only brought to light after nagging injuries leave you sidelined. Instead we focus on competition, who can be the fastest and who can be first and if form is off than so be it. Being fast is cool and all - but getting their the right way is just as important.
Compare less, and accept more.
Never compare your beginning to someone else's middle, isn't that how the saying goes? Running can be so competitive - and it makes sense because racing IS a competition. But too often we compare ourselves to people who have been running for years and wonder why we are not that fast. We compare ourselves to people who start out faster, even though it's a matter of genetics.
Yoga is not only about form first, but it's a go-at-your-own-pace kind of thing. So what if you can't do a handstand the first class. It's called a practice for a reason — keep practicing slowly and you will eventually get there. Keep practicing slowly. That's something I really need to carry over into my running life.
There are no deadlines for improvement.
Maybe it's because running comes and goes in seasons - we feel constant pressure to achieve monumental goals with minimal training. Marathons can take years to be ready for and yet we all jump in head first and hope not to crash. Why is it every year feels like THE year to cut minutes off our race times? Why do we measure ourselves in race times to begin with - a minuscule percentage of the actual time we spend running.
Yoga has no deadline. I don't walk into class and say to myself, "In five weeks if I can't get into a handstand, well then this yoga stuff is crap." That is dumb. Instead I am patient, I take little steps toward my goal and I trust that when my body is strong enough I will be able to accomplish my goal. I accept that some days I am stronger or more flexible and other days I am not.
Celebrate small improvements not just monumental ones.
Does this situation sound familiar? You run a race and not only feel great but beat your previous time by 30 seconds. Instead of feeling proud you spend the following weeks explaining to everyone, "Well it was only 30 seconds faster, no big deal." It is a big deal. An improvement in time is always a big deal — especially given how unpredictable race day can be.
In yoga we celebrate [or at least I personally am learning to celebrate] every small accomplishment. That one time I could do triangle pose with the block on it's side instead of standing tall? Worth celebrating. When I was able to hold crow pose for ten seconds instead of five? Worth celebrating. That half marathon PR by 30 seconds? WAY worth celebrating.
I get it — running and yoga and really different and part of what makes them so complimentary to each other. Running may not bring you to the same space of quiet that yoga can — but that doesn't mean you can't take a few of it's lessons along the way.
Do you practice yoga? Has it taught you any lessons you carry through into running?