Yoga Wisdom for Runners

Kathryn Budig’s new book. (photo credit: Amazon)

Like a lot of you out there, I like to balance out my training with a little yoga. In fact, my only form of cross-training is yoga – it’s the only activity other than running that I can stick to doing on a regular basis. My affinity for yoga makes perfect sense: As us Salties know, running is as much mental as it is physical, just like yoga.

The reason I’m talking about yoga today is that I had the opportunity last Friday to meet the mother of all yogis, Kathryn Budig. Kathryn contributes to publications including Yoga Journal, Women’s Health and Huffington Post. Her new book, the Women’s Health Big Book of Yoga, was just released on October 30. She travels around the country, teaching workshops and giving talks to inspire others. She visited Cleveland last weekend and I had the privilege of meeting her. Kathryn visited my store (!!) to be outfitted for the weekend. It was like the yoga equivalent of meeting Kara Goucher or Shalane Flanagan!

Later I attended one of her workshops where I learned some great mental tips from the world of yoga that apply to us runners that I want to share with you!

Coriander with Kathryn (middle) and Sandy, owner of a local yoga studio. Coolest day of work so far!

Kathryn’s workshop was titled “Aim True.” At the beginning of her workshop, she talked about what the words “aim true” mean to her. I took a lot of notes and as I read back over them, so many of the things she said really apply to the mental side of running.

“Embrace what’s going on in the moment.” Running hurts. It’s hard, there’s no doubt about that. There are times when it downright sucks and you’re halfway through a race and all you can think about is how much you want to quit. There may also be times when so many other things are going on, like work, school, family or whatever your stress may be that you’re finding it tough to focus on the run itself and your workout. We’ve all been there. But breathing and aiming your focus back to the task at hand, that day’s run, will help you get through it.

English: Track and field

“Nothing in this life is permanent…everything is as difficult as you allow it to be.” It’s hard to step onto the track for a speed work session or out the door for your longest training run ever without that idea that “this is going to be hard.” But the beauty of it is that it has a specific start and specific end and the nature of the experience is that it ends! I repeated that to myself a lot during my first 50 mile race last June. The course was difficult, it was hot and I was tired, but I wasn’t out there forever and there was no need to make things harder by allowing myself to succumb to the difficulty in my mind.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” This note was so important I put a star by it. Think about it for a second. How many times have you stood at the start line of the race and compared yourself to everyone around you? How many times have you compared yourself to your running buddies or others in a running group? It’s natural and with the competitive nature of our sport, it’s so easy to do. But how do you feel after you finish those races or runs when you’re using others to gauge the value of your performance, “I suck, I should’ve beat so-and-so. I can’t believe she’s stronger than me!” Comparing yourself to others takes away from your own running experience and if you run your own race, for you, you will gain so much more from the experience.

“Love fearlessly.” There’s not much I can add to this one. What could you achieve if you ran fearlessly? Weren’t afraid to fail, to succeed, look ugly, etc. Imagine the possibilities!

Are you a practitioner of yoga? Has it helped you become more mentally fit as a runner?  If so, how?



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Trail and 100 mile ultra runner who still loves a good road marathon every now and then. Lifetime Northeast Ohio resident that dreams of the mountains out west, but loves CLE too much. Sometimes a vegan, sometimes does yoga, always loves a good craft beer and post race donuts.

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  1. I love this post! I am so in love with yoga! It was the silver lining to a running injury…after getting ART therapy and recovering, yoga was suggested to try to combat future problems. It absolutely is a great core/strength, balance, and flexibility workout but also mentally, as described in the post awesome for athletes. I really like the “comparison is the thief of joy” quote. Too true! Thanks so much for sharing! I continue to make yoga a priority in my training even though as a triathlete it may seem time-consuming I have realized just how important it is!

    1. I always tend to fall off the yoga wagon when I’m better after an injury, but it’s what I keep going back to every time I get injured (which happens too often!) It’s so important to find that balance, good luck with your tri training!

    1. We naturally compare ourselves to others and look down on ourselves for it. I totally agree, I stop enjoying running when I’m constantly comparing myself to someone I view as better or faster. It’s such a hard habit to break!

  2. I really like these too. In fact, they’re so great I’d love to see a separate post dedicated to each 😉 Thanks for sharing!

    But the comparison one also hits home for me the most too. It’s so hard. Last year as I was busting my but and getting creamed race after race by my faster training buddies I had to work really hard to cut myself some slack and not feel like I was making excuses by telling myself how good I was doing for having two very small children. All we can do is do the best with what WE have to work with and be happy for others who manage to do the same! In fact, I’d say learning to celebrate the great performances of others, even when I was disappointed in my own performance really helped me with this one. It will ALWAYS be a struggle though!

  3. I love this! I really like yoga but I am guilty of going in spurts… I go a lot after I’m injured, then I taper off. Although I am trying hard to be better! My favorite bit of wisdom that you shared is “Nothing in this life is permanent.” So pertinent if you are in a rut or dealing with injury. It’s easy to feel like that will never end!

  4. Yeah, it’s the comparison one that gets me too. It’s kind of worked in reverse in many ways…I’ve been inspired by other running bloggers. Seeing them, not that different to me in many ways, improve and get faster has made me think I can do the same. I can’t identify with pro-runners but I can identify with girls like me who are trying to run better. I PR’d lately at my last half marathon and I’m sure this is due to the inspiration of other people.

    However I do tend to look at other runners at races and think that they’re ‘proper’ runners because they’re shaped like whippets, they have no body fat, they wear short shorts, they have garmins…and sometimes (rarely, but sometimes) I finish faster than the proper runner. Those days make me happy!

    I don’t do Yoga. I should do.