Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Morning-After Yoga

Don’t get me wrong: my six-mile run on Monday evening was stellar. It didn’t take me long to warm up and, while it was a slow run, I didn’t tire at all and felt wholly comfortable with the distance. I even took to a 30-minute run at 10:00/mile on Tuesday night after dinner (remind me to stop doing that). It was a much, much slower-moving day than Monday, but it continued to ramp up my confidence for Saturday.

Thinking back to last year, it makes me giggle to think that my biggest fear was not finishing the race. By last March last year five miles was a hike for me; this year it’s just a breeze. I know that I won’t meet the time goals I set for myself late last summer for this race, but my confidence is riding high about finishing. One less thing to worry about!

My training prep ends with a longer run around Cleveland and the Heights this evening after work. I’d like to run for at least one hour and really get in my last set of hills before St. Malachi.

Obviously squeezing in hills three days before the race isn’t going to magically make me a hill-killer, but I’d like to remind myself what a REAL hill feels like before I make that final turn. With all this downtime, it might take a little more than a bratwurst and a finish line to get me to the top!

What will I do in the meantime? Rest and stretch. Cold weather tends to leave my muscles tight after a run—especially the next morning. Sure, I stretch before and after my runs; I warm up and I cool down; I shower cold and I shower hot. Sometimes my muscles just won’t chill when they’re supposed to be chilled.

Over the past two mornings I’ve put together a yoga flow to stretch myself (focusing on calves, quads and back) and walked away feeling awesome. So, I thought I would share. The full walk-through appears below, but here’s the flow:
  • Child’s pose
  • Cat lift
  • Cat pose
  • Cat lift
  • Downward dog
  • Swan
  • Swan bow
  • Downward dog
  • Swan
  • Swan bow
  • One-leg down dog
  • Plank
  • Upward dog
  • Half locust
  • Upward dog
  • One-leg down dog
  • Crescent lunge
  • Forward fold
  • Chest lift
Combining one breath with each movement, start in extended child’s pose. Inhale into cat lift, hold and exhale into cat pose. Repeat 2-3 times, returning to child’s pose between each lift/pose set.

After the last cat pose, inhale into cat lift and then exhale into downward dog. I like to take 3-4 breaths while stretching each calf respectively, keeping my arms stretched, even and strong as I press down each heel. Once your calves feel evenly stretched, hold downward dog for five deep breaths.

From downward dog, inhale one knee forward between your hands, keeping your back leg extended and stretching back into swan pose. Exhale your forehead toward the floor into swan bow, breathing space between each vertebrae.

Inhale-exhale through 2-3 swan poses/bows, return to downward dog and repeat swans on the other side.

After the last swan, inhale, tuck your back toe under and exhale into one-leg downward dog. Really stretch out your sides, arms and your calf. Hold for five breaths and exhale your leg down. Lower your body, inhaling, through plank position into upward dog. Exhale into half locust, stretching your back and legs. Inhale back into upward dog, tuck the toe on your other side and exhale into one-leg downward dog. Repeat 2-3 times on each side.

In your last one-leg down dog, inhale and step one foot forward between your hands and, exhaling, bring your torso upward into crescent lunge. Hold for a few breaths. Inhale and bring your body forward, lowering your hands and body toward the mat, and then into plank position. Inhale your other foot forward between your hands and repeat crescent lunge on the other side.

Complete your last crescent lunge and bring your feet together at the front of your mat in a forward fold. Hold for two breaths, arch your back and inhale while looking up, and then exhale back into forward fold. Repeat 2-3 times until hammies feel stretched, then lift with a cleansing exhale toward the ceiling, raise your arms into a chest lift and inhale. Then release all your tension with one great exhale and bring your hands into mountain pose. Om…

You’ll want to adjust the flow to your own rhythms and, obviously, modify if it doesn’t fit your needs, if you find something that works better or if my explanation seems to skip something in a bad way. It’s hard to write a yoga flow while sitting in a chair!

But chair-stretching will have to do for now: only three days until the gun blows on my 2008 race season!


Dana said...

I stumbled across your blog from DaisyDuc & I have to say that I have been really enjoying reading it. I'm trying to train for my 1st 10k while dealing w/ my 1st stress fracture & reading about how you dealt w/ yours definitely inspired me! I just wanted to say to keep up the good work.

tracie said...

good luck for st. malachi!!! you'll be great! :)