Balancing Act

No secret here, when I start training for a race, I go all out.  I run all the time.  Every day or just about every day.  Even though I know it’s important to keep variety in my training and my life, I sacrifice so much else to be able to get my miles in.  More miles than I even NEED.  This ends one of two ways after the race.  I keep the excitement for a little while after and continue running hard until I hit a wall and lose all motivation or I wind up injured.


This time around, I’m trying to do differently.  I’ve been working a lot on my strength training.  It’s important to me and I love to lift heavy weights.  It makes me feel strong.  I don’t want to lose what I’ve worked hard to gain.  I’ve also started attending hot yoga, which makes me feel grounded and in touch with my body. These are two things that I love.  But I’ve already noticed how quickly I will go to sacrificing them if running comes up.  


Yesterday was the first day I took a long hard listen to my body and actually put running down for a minute.  I went and lifted instead.  And it felt good.  No, it felt great.  Before, I would’ve tried to push that training run even though I knew my legs felt dead tired.  Now?  I’m more committed than ever to listening to what my body needs.  


I don’t have to run 6 days a week, 4+ miles each day plus a long run in order to be well trained.  Seeing how well my 11 miler last week went proved to me that I don’t.  I need the variety.  My body needs the variety.  Some people do it differently and that’s ok.  We all need to remember that the only voice we need to listen to is our own.  Your body will tell you what you need.  


Sweat, Sweat, Sweat

With the increase in strength training over the last few months, I’ve seen a marked decrease in my hamstring and hip flexibility.  I’ve never been someone that was super flexible but flexible enough.  Meaning, I can’t do the splits but I can bend over and touch the ground with my palms.  I’m very aware of changes in my body.  That’s pretty typical of anyone who puts fitness as a priority.  So this change was concerning to me.  You have to work for your flexibility and it can leave you quickly.  


I started checking out hot yoga studios in Springfield.  I’ve taken a yoga class or two and countless yoga/pilates fusion classes.  I’m not completely new to yoga but I’m not a yogi by any means.  Always do your research!  Check yelp reviews, talk with friends about which studios they like or dislike.  Luckily, one of my friends has done quite a bit of hot yoga and agreed to attend a class with me.  SO. HELPFUL.  I’d have had no idea what was going on, how or where to set my mat and towel up or how to just breathe in that hot air.  If you’re looking to try out hot yoga and have a friend that has done it, use them as a resource!  Take them with you and be open to their suggestions.  


The studio I chose, Pure Hot Yoga, uses infrared heating.  Very quiet and very effective.  I swear, the room really does get hotter as the class goes on.  As soon as we started moving, I was sweating.  That’s one of the coolest thing about the human body.  Did you know that as a runner or other athlete who is acclimated to the heat, your body is trained to respond faster to the heat and stress your body is under by sweating sooner?  This is a fabulous adaptation when working out in the heat.  Not so much in real life.  You know, when that room you’re in is just a little too hot and your heart rate is already up from taking the stairs and you start pouring sweat?  Gross.  That’s me.  Thanks, body! 


Back to the yoga.  Parts of the class I felt I might die.  Thankfully, the instructor started out the class by working just on breathing, getting everyone acclimated to the heat and heavy air.  Any time I felt I might be getting overwhelmed, I went back to that initial breathing and was able to calm myself down and get my body back.  At the end, I felt refreshed and alive, not drained and defeated by the work.  To me, that’s exactly what any workout should leave you feeling. 


Memberships are expensive.  But if you do your research (which you will, because I suggested it!) you’ll find that many studios offer community classes.  These classes are open to non-members for a minimal fee.  Typical cost around here is $5 per class.  To me, a person who will likely only take one, MAYBE two classes each week, that’s perfect.  No membership required!  


Anyone can do it.  There were women and men in last nights class of all shapes, sizes and ages.  Everyone getting their sweat on and connecting with their body.  What’s greater than that?!  Grab your mat and find a hot yoga studio.  

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