Category Archives: Yoga for Runners

Fall into the Running Groove

Fall is almost here! The crisp, cool air is on the way and so is running season! To get you back into the running groove, here are some tips and motivation to get you up and running!

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1.DO YOGA:  We forget that our strength doesn’t just come from our body, it comes from all parts of ourselves; including our minds and our hearts. Yoga will give you tools to control the hardest part, our mind. It will provide that extra inspiration to feel connected to your running and lastly, it will make you physically stronger and more flexible to keep those injuries away. It’s time to unroll that yoga mat and get started! Here are some specific classes and events that are for runners.

> RunYoga Fall Edition: 8 Mondays; starting September 12th
> Yoga + Running 3-Day Immersion at Kripalu: September 25th to 30th
> Yoga for Runners Weekly Class: Sundays, 12:45pm at JP Centre Yoga
> Yoga with Cara Gilman App: Download in the Apple Store
Classes + events with Cara Gilman
New to yoga? Here are some tips.

2. Be mindful: Meditation is a powerful way of completely changing up your running game. My biggest advice, make it simple. Define 1 word that inspires you to run. Sit down in a quiet space (recommend sitting against a wall and on a pillow or blanket), set your iphone timer for 5 minutes, close your eyes and GO! You might find that your mind will want take over. Let it happen. Observe what’s happening and learn from it. Keeping breathing and repeating that word to find focus. Do this same process when you’re running. This practice will allow you to tame the negative self talk and give you that extra boost of inspiration while you run.

3. Balance Your Training: Practice and repetition is key to getting faster, however it’s important to not overdo it. On average, 62% of runners suffer from injury which is most often caused by doing to much (i.e. running too many miles). It’s important to balance your training with cross training (yoga, spinning, biking, swimming). I’ve found that running 3 or 4 times a week and practicing yoga 3 or 4 times a week is the perfect balance for me. This will allow you to get the necessary miles in without burning your body and mind out.

4. Rest up. Rest is a key component of training that we always forget about. It allows our physical body to rebuild itself so we can get stronger and lets our mind take a break from grind. Yoga Nidra is a great tool I learned while I was in India. Yoga Nidra, also called “yoga of divine sleep” and is awesome for grounding your energy down for mid day nap or before bed. I’m working on creating an audio file of this as we speak, but in the meantime, check out “Insight Timer App” via the Apple Store. It’s a free app and they have lots of ones to choose from.

5. Shake things up! If you live in Boston, there are so many ways to get your miles in besides running the same route over and over again by yourself. Especially is you’re looking to get faster times, I recommend integrating speed workouts (intervals, tempo runs, mile repeats), hill repeats and running with people! This will drastically change your running game. Here are some groups, that I would recommend running with:

Mondays:
> Forest Hill Runners at 6am + 7pm
> November Project (workout varies) at 6:30am
> RunYoga Series at 6 to 8pm

Tuesdays:
> Nike Club track workout at Ruggles Indoor Track at 6:30am
> RunFellow Club at 6pm

> RunBase on Boylston Street at 6:30pm
> Forest Hill Runners at 7pm Tempo Run

Wednesdays:
> November Project (Stadium workout) at 5:30am/6:30am
> Marathon Sports Run Club at Boylston Street at 6:30pm
> Brighton Bangers at 7pm

Thursdays:
> Forest Hill Runners Ttrack workout at 7pm
> RunBase on Boylston Street at 6:30pm

Fridays:
> November Project (hills in Brookline) at 6:30pm

        Saturdays:
        > Brighton Bangers at 9:30am
        > Forest Hill Runners

 

 

Well, Hello 2016 Boston Marathon!

I might be heading off to India for the month of January, but that doesn’t mean that you, 2016 Boston Marathon runners, will be all alone as you take on the frigid temperatures and snow during the base of your marathon training! Below, I have outlined key tips and advice that will get your training off to a great start. (Feel free to also listen to my Podcast on Runner’s Connect where I discuss many of the points I have outlined below).

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This is a great time, even if you’re not running the Boston marathon, to establish a consistent yoga practice that will keep you injury-free, make you stronger and also help you with the anxiety that comes with taking on a big goal and the desire to do well.

Happy running and yoga!

1. Start yoga NOW: Now is the time to get your yoga on! Yoga is essential for building flexibility, strength and focus into your running practice. As you begin to get into your training routine and building up mileage, it’s important to integrate yoga from the start. This will make a HUGE difference in your training, especially as you head towards your big 20 mile run. Here are some classes I would recommend:

  • 10 week RunYoga series on Monday nights (kicks off 2/8). This series is so much fun and you will meet a lot of other people training for Boston.
  • Yoga for Runners class on Sundays at 12:45pm in JP. This is a perfect class to do for cross training and/or post-long run, whether you ran Saturday or Sunday morning.
  • Can’t make it to a class, practice with me via my Yoga with Cara Gilman app on your iphone.
  • If you’re newer to yoga, I also teach a beginners class at YogaWorks Back Bay on Monday mornings at 8:15am. The class is 60 minutes.
  • New to yoga? Here are some tips.

2. Integrate yoga as part of your training, not an extension of it: Plan your yoga just like you would do with your runs. I would recommend practicing 2 or 3 times per week. Two practices being used for cross training/strength building and one class being for recovery. These practices do not have to be classes, they can be done at home on your own (feel free to check out my videos on my iphone app).

If you’re planning on taking a class and are not sure what kind of class to take, here’s a guide. However, each class will vary depending on the teacher so keep that in mind.

  • Yoga for Strength Training & Stretch: Vinyasa Yoga (level 2/3), Hip Hop Yoga, Forrest Yoga, Core Flow, Strength and Structure Vinyasa, Power Yoga
  • Yoga for Stretch: Slow flow vinyasa, yin yoga, restorative yoga, vinyasa with deep relaxation
  • Yoga for Recovery: Restorative yoga, meditation classes

3. Be careful of hot yoga. With the room being warm, you will feel like your body is more open, which it is, but this can cause you to go deep into poses and possibly cause you to over stretch areas of your body. Your body is going through a lot of stress already with your running regime, so be careful when practicing that you’re not pushing it and are leaving your competitive nature outside of the yoga room. A great indication of when to back off is when your breath becomes short and/or almost non existent.

4. Get your pre-game on. Before your run, set an intention. Let your intention reflect why you run or are running. Take a moment to connect to the “why” to get inspired. Follow up your intention setting practice up with a routine you do every time you run. It could consist of a pre-run yoga warm-up, listening to a favorite song that gets you pumped up and/or a five minute seated meditation. Routine is key and by establishing a mechanism to get your mind in the game, you will notice that mentally you will be able to dig deep much easier on your run.

5. Be Flexible: Approach your training plan with the mindset that it will change. As the miles start to increase, your body and/or mind might need to skip some runs. Stay focused on completing at least 3 runs per week; your long run, speed/hill/pace workout (if you are a veteran marathoner and going for a specific time) and a regular base run. The most important run to complete is your long run. This is where cross training is important. Feel free to supplement yoga, spinning and/or swimming in the mix when your mind and/or body needs a break from running.

6. Run with people! Running with people has made a huge difference in my running. It has not only made me faster but I have way more fun running! There are a TON of running groups in Boston that will keep you motivated this winter. Here are some that I LOVE:

7. Work on Your Form: On easy runs challenge yourself to pay attention to your form. Here are some things for you to think about/work on.

8. Post-run yoga, do it! After you complete any workout-out, dedicate at least 10 minutes to stretch and do some core work. Here’s a quick 5 pose yoga sequence that’s perfect to do post-workout. Here are also some stretches/yoga poses that you can integrate as well:

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Get FAST

47:11; I beat my 10K PR (personal record) by 4 minutes. Despite the pouring rain and less than ideal running conditions, I took on the BAA 10K and rocked it out.

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he before and after pictures of the BAA 10K

My shift in running has happened over the past 8 months when I started to do one thing. I started to run with people. Since October, I have run with people that are faster or the same speed as me a couple times a week. Mondays, I run with my RunYoga crew. Wednesdays, I run with the Marathon Sports Boston Run Club. Fridays, I run with friends after my 7am yoga class at Back Bay Yoga and this past winter, on Saturdays, I ran and helped coached the Marathon Coalition as our runners prepared for the Boston Marathon. These runs keep me accountable and consistent and they’re FUN! I’m no longer looking at my watch watching the miles tick by. I’m laughing, chatting and enjoying each and every step. Running with people has allowed me to control my breathing, focus on my form and also understand my true potential as a runner.

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ummer RunYoga Crew
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inter RunYoga Crew

Last April, I was running with the Marathon Sports Boston Run Club and about 2 miles into my run, I looked at my watch. I was running a 8 minute pace and I felt amazing. I thought to myself, “this is way too fast”, but I held the pace. Fast forward another 3.5 miles and I finished with an average pace of 7:53min/mile. This was a pace that I’ve never run before, for at the time, I was averaging 9/9:30min/mile pace on my runs.

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Friday morning runs along the Charles River

I mentioned this running victory to two of my running buddies with such pride. They were happy for me (of course!) but they wanted me think a little bit bigger. “Cara, you looked really strong out there. I’m sure you could up your pace to 7:30min/mile pace easy.” I thought to myself “no way!” but at the same time, I thought, “why not try?”

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Running candids 🙂

That’s what I did. That next Wednesday, I joined the group and set out for a 7:30 min/mile pace. My two buddies and my other running friends were with me the whole way; encouraging me and pacing me. We finished that 5.5 mile run at a 7:20 pace. BOOM! Everything changed from there. I started to view myself differently. I started to run differently. Each and every Wednesday, I ran with my crew; targeting that 7:30 pace and using the run as a tempo run. When I got to the starting line of the BAA 10K, I was ready to own it. And I did!

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Marathon Sports Boston Wednesday Run Club

Community is so important. They motivate us. They inspire us. They keep us on track and accountable, but most importantly they allow us to see our best selves and what we’re truly capable of doing. Running with others has done just that for me and I’m so incredibly grateful for it. I’m grateful for not only the physical benefits it has given me but most importantly, the friendships and memories it has created and how it has changed my perception of myself.

You want to get faster and be better? Let’s all run together. Who inspires you to be a better runner?

Opportunities for you to run with others:
> Monday nights: RunYoga, 6pm, Fenway (Fall session starts September 14)
> Wednesday nights: Marathon Sports Boston, 6:30pm, Back Bay
> Thursday nights: Boston Marathon Adidas Run Base, 6:30pm, Back Bay
> November Project: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 6:30am
> Marathon Coalition: Trains 15 charity teams for the Boston Marathon                

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Yoga & Tapering: Dealing with Your Mind

Tapering has always been a bittersweet time in training for me. I’m super psyched to be done with the grueling long runs and the anxiety and physical wear and tare that can come with it, but I also crave and miss the challenge. My mind always becomes restless as fear starts to set in. Did I run enough? Did I stretch enough? Do I have my pre-run hydration and eating routine down? Can I really do this?

Yoga is not only a powerful way to stretch and strengthen your body for running but it helps your mind deal with this anxiety. It allows you to release this fearful voice in your head. Remember, your only true challenge on race day is getting out of your head and into your heart. You are the only obstacle that lies before you and that finish line.

Here is a short meditation and visualization exercise that I have found helpful to deal with this race anxiety.

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Find a comfortable seated position. It can be on a chair, on your couch or up against a wall. Just try to sit up straight.

Then close your eyes and start to connect with your breath. Take around 10 rounds of breath to bring some ease and relaxation to your mind and body.

  • Imagine a race or run during this training when you had the most fun. Let go of the pace, the distance, the time. What did it feel like? Where was it? Were you with someone? Why did you love it?
  • I want you to really focus on what you’re feeling as you replay this run in your mind—what words come to mind? Laughter, community, strength?
  • Bring both of your hands to your heart and I want you to repeat that word to yourself. I want you to once again feel that word in your body, in your heart.

Open your eyes.

This is a powerful exercise I encourage you to do everyday until the marathon, for it will help with the pre-race anxiety. It’s important to keep your body and your mind at ease over these next couple of weeks. Remember, you have the power to achieve anything you want: Believe it’s possible and let go of the fear around it.

Give it a try and let me know what you think! Cheers & Namaste!

 

 

 

Yoga & Tapering: Dealing with Your Body

Taper time is here and your body might be feeling achy, heavy and a little cranky. It’s important over the next couple weeks to keep your body feeling fresh as you steadily decrease your mileage. It seems like this would automatically be the case since you’re running less but that’s not always true. This is where yoga comes in.

Over the next couple of weeks, make sure you’re getting your flexibility time in. This means dedicating 10 or 15 minutes at least 5 times a week to stretch post-run or post-foam rolling.

Here are some great stretches that are easily to follow, that are relaxing for your body and will help keep your body feeling fresh and energized. Looking for some tips on foam rolling? Here you go! 

Try them out and let me know what you think. Cheers & Namaste!

Hamstring Stretch: Extend your right leg up towards the ceiling and place the strap over the ball of your foot. Make sure each hand has a strap. Press the heel up towards the ceiling and lengthen the leg. You will feel a deep stretch in the hamstring.

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Inner Hip/Hamstring Stretch: Bring your strap into your right hand. Take your left hand and place it down on your hip. Without lifting the hip, extend the right leg out to the right side. Feel free to place a block along side the right hip if you have one, especially if the leg feels unsupported. Keep the foot active by flexing the foot and bring the right foot towards your ear. You will feel a deep stretch in the inner thigh and also the hamstring.

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IT Band Stretch: Bring the right leg back to center. Place both ends of the strap in the left hand and cross the right leg over to the left side. Keep both hips grounded down. You will feel this in your IT band.

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Outer Hip/IT Band Stretch: Take the right leg and place the ankle above your left knee on the thigh. Hug your left thigh in towards you by placing your hands around the hamstring or shin. Activate both your feet.

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Supine Twist. Take both of your knees and drop them over to the left side. Arms are extended out like a T and both shoulders are down on the ground.

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5 Poses to Give Those IT Bands Some LOVE

For those training for the Boston Marathon or an upcoming spring marathon we can be happy to say that the “monster month” of peak training is complete! Yay! Your last long run is over and now you can allow your body to recover and rest by steadily decreasing your mileage over the next couple of weeks (recommend to drop mileage 20% each week).

However, you might be left with some tightness and in some pain from all the miles, especially in and around the knees and the outer hips. It’s more important than ever to make sure you’re stretching and keeping your body relaxed.

Here are some of my favorite stretches that will give those IT bands some love which is most likely causing tightness in the outer hip area as well as around your knees. Let me know what you think and feel free to leave your comments/questions below! Cheers & Namaste!

Wounded Warrior
Start off in downward dog. Bring your right knee to your left elbow and extend your right leg behind your left wrist like a kick stand. Lower your right hip down to the ground and center your chest forward and down. Repeat to the other side.

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1/2 Pigeon Pose
From Downward dog, bend your right knee and place it behind your right wrist. Straighten your left leg behind you and walk your left toes all the way back to the back of your mat to lower your hips down. Bring your right hip a little further back and pull your left hip forward. If your right hip is lifted place a block, blanket or pillow under it for support and then fold over your right shin. Switch sides.

*If this pose is too intense and/or you feel any pain in your knee or sharp radiating pain down your leg, come to figure 4 (which is shown below).

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Figure 4
Take the right leg and place the ankle above your left knee on the thigh. Hug your left thigh in towards you by placing your hands around the hamstring or shin. Activate both your feet. As shown here, you can rest the sole of the left foot on the wall. This will take the pose a little deeper and will also allow the legs to relax a bit more. Switch sides.

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Half Split IT Band Variation
From your 1/2 split (come into low lunge with left knee on the floor and straighten your right leg), place the razor edge of your right foot on the ground and walk your hands over to the right. Flex the right toes to turn the stretch on and feel free to bend the right knee to soften the pose. Switch sides.

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Lizard Lunge
From your low lunge, place both of your hands and shoulders to the inside of your right foot. Feel free to stay on your hands or to come all the way down on your forearms or use blocks. Repeat to the other side.

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Your Pre-Run Yoga

It’s important before any run–whether it’s your long run, pace workout, easy run–to get your body and your mind into the zone.

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Here’s a quick yoga sequence that will do just that! Hold each pose for 3 to 5 rounds of breath. This sequence is your way of using dynamic movement to get the muscles warm and ready to fire up for your run.

YOUR PRE-RUN YOGA (click here to view pictures via flipagram)
1. Set your intention–what do you want to get out of your run? 
2. Side bend to each side
3. Forward fold chest opener
4. Crescent lunge with side bend
5. Warrior 3
6. Standing figure 4
7. Pyramid
8. Straddle
9. Runners lunge
10. Step forward and repeat other side

Yoga & Your Training: Tips for Runners

So how does yoga make you a better runner? Yoga allows our sport to be sustainable so we can keep getting to that starting line over and over again. As Bill Rogers states,

“To be a consistent winner means preparing not just for one day, one month or even one year, but for a lifetime.” 

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Yoga is that preparation. It makes us stronger. It makes us more flexible. It makes us more aware of our bodies imbalances. It brings mental toughness to our sport.

Ready, set, do yoga! What’s holding you back from integrating yoga into your training plan? Afraid to start? Here’s some tips to get you started:

How to Approach Your Yoga:

Let go of the Ego. 

  • You’re not in competition so don’t treat it like one.
  • Don’t worry what your fellow yogi is doing. Keep your eyes on your on mat and be patient with yourself.
  • Like in running, when we don’t listen to our body and let our ego run the show, that’s when we get hurt.

Do not harm. 

  • If you experience pain stop.
  • Start off slowly and gradually pick up the pace of your practice just like you would do with your running.
  • They call it a practice for a reason. It takes time, energy and patience. Be honest with yourself.
  • Know how you’re showing up on your mat—energetically and physically
  • Be aware of your experience level and how your body is feeling.

Breathe.

  • If you’re not breathing, it means you’re going to far.
  • Make sure to keep a smooth rhythmic breath throughout your practice. This will be challenging at first but will come naturally with time and will help you with your running.

Use Props.

  • Props have a bad reputation for only being for those new to yoga but props are essential in allowing you to go deeper into poses.
  • Let the props support your practice.

Have Fun! 

  • Allow yourself to be playful and enjoy the movement.
  • The more fun you have, the more you will get out of the practice.

Class Options:

Post Run Yoga: 5 Poses for You

Stretching after a run or any cross training workout is essential. It’s not always what we want to do after a run, but it’s a must. It will help with your flexibility (which will then help with your running form) and it will keep those nagging injuries away that are result of chronic tightness in the muscles.

This is where yoga comes it. This yoga sequence will stretch all the areas you need post run in just 5 poses that are easy to remember. So much more fun then just “stretching” 🙂 Enjoy and let me know what you think!

Make sure you hold each pose for 10 to 20 breaths which is around 1 to 2 minutes. You can also add core work into the mix as well. I’ve added a note below of where you could add it in.

1. Low lunge (hips)
Keep the back toes tucked under to also stretch out your back quad. You can add a side bend to get deeper into the hip flexor and stretch out the side body.

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2. Quad Stretch (quads)
Feel free to place a block under the hand on the floor and also a block or towel under the back knee. If you’re still not able to grab your foot you can use a strap.

 

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3. Half Split (hamstrings)
Make sure to keep your hips lifted so they’re in line with your back knee. This might require you to walk the front foot a little farther forward. Keep front foot flexed and maybe even grab front foot if you like to also feel a stretch in your calf. 

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4. Lizard lunge (hips)
Make sure both hands are inside of the foot and the knee is over your ankle. Drop the hips forward and slide your back knee back a couple inches. If this comes easy to you, bring your forearms down on blocks or to the floor.
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Option to add forearm plank here 🙂
Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Make sure hips are lifted so they’re in line with your shoulders. Engage quads, let your tail bone drop and engage your lower belly.

5. Childs Pose
Feet come together and knees come all the way to the edges of your mat. Feel free to place a block or pillow under your hips if you’re having a hard time having them lower to the ground.

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REPEAT OTHER SIDE

Cross Training Yoga Video for Runners

I’m so excited to share this video with you! I had the honor of shooting this video for DreamFar, a local non-profit organization that trains high school students to run marathons. Their emphasis is not on time or pace but allowing students to realize they can accomplish anything they put their minds to. Any runner who has run a marathon knows how powerful this gift of confidence is and I was thrilled when Dream Far approached me to help their runners get their yoga game on!

This video was created as a cross training option for their runners and is also a video that I can share with you! It’s a 45 minute yoga video that will build strength in your legs and core but will also provide a great stretch for your hamstrings, quads, ITs and chest. A great option for strength training after a run or a cross training option on a non-running day. Enjoy and let me know what you think!

WATCH THE VIDEO

Cheers & Namaste!
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