Running a Half Marathon Yogi Style

Yesterday I completed the Boston Run to Remember Half Marathon—13.1 miles through the city of Boston to benefit the Boston Police officers. This race was completely different from any other race I have ever completed. I was guided by my inner yogi and felt present, focused, confident and strong with each and every step. 

It started off the day before the race. I began to let go of my time expectations and really reflected upon why I love running and events like these. My reflection made me come to this conclusion—running is a celebration of movement and a powerful to tool in my life. 

Running makes me feel in touch with myself by giving me the space I need in my life. As my friend Julie would put it, “running is my mediation time.” My training over the past couple months was time just for me. If I was dealing with something heavy in my life, I dealt with it on my run. The movement of my feet hitting the ground, my breath and the swinging of my arms created a calming and soothing state for me where I could finally think clearly and discover solutions to the issue I was confronting. 

Self confidence has always been a gift that running has brought to me. Putting together a training plan, defining my goals and then feeling improvement over time has enabled me to feel like I can achieve anything and is an outlook I have taken to all aspects of my life. Of course there are always humbling points—-you have tough miserable runs, you feel tired, your body can be so sore that you’re not sure if you can even get out of bed. But those moments define your strength and your passion to do something for yourself—because you love yourself. Because you belief in yourself. So you never stop. You never give up on yourself.

You then match this powerful experience with adding 9,000 other runners at your side on race day that have endured similar triumphs and victories—all doing it because they love themselves. Because they believe themselves. Reflecting upon this the day before the race was incredibly powerful. This race is a celebration of my love for running—a celebration that I get to share with 9,000 other people!

Running a race with 9,000 people though can make awaiting the start of the race even more nerve racking. In past races, I have always wasted some much energy pacing around and making unnecessary trips to the bathroom. This time I changed my routine. I sat in a cross legged position on the ground and closed my eyes. I tuned in with myself by paying attention to my breath; reminding myself to pay attention to my breath throughout the race as a way to check-in with how I was feeling and to soothe me as challenges came my way. After taking only a few moments to do this, I immediately felt the benefits. I felt relaxed, focused and confident; being able to set the nerves aside. 

Setting this intention of focusing on my breath before the start of the run was an incredible tool. As I approached big hills, when my body started to feel fatigued and my mind started to second guess myself, I took deep inhalations and exhalations and allowed my breath to calm me. My breath then washed away my fears and settled my mind back to where I needed to be. It allowed me to stay relaxed, focused and confident for all 13.1 miles.

My breath also allowed me to discover when I needed to take my “childs pose” and what I needed to do for my body and mind to feel the best I could for every single step of the race. As I began to run the first half mile or so, I realized how hot the run would be so I committed to stop and drink at every water station. In the past, I feared stopping at all during the race since I feared it would add minutes to my time. However, this was not the case at all. Every time I stopped, I took that moment to regroup and felt recharged. This enabled me to keep a constant pace for the first 7 miles and then pick up the pace as the remaining miles of the race came my way. 

As the last two miles approached, my legs were incredibly fatigued. I was increasing my pace with every step and it was challenging to keep my head high, keep my body relaxed and to keep good alignment. That’s when I used another yogi tool, chanting. Yes, I know it sounds funny but I set this mantra for myself: give everything and go deep. I repeated this statement in my head over and over again. As the last few hundred yards of the race remained and my mind kept trying to take over me, I chanted this phrase out loud; repeating the phrase over and over again and saying it louder with every step. My words distracted myself from the pain and fatigue in my body and I was able to push myself faster and faster. The combination of my breath and my chanting brought my pace down to under 7:30 minute miles for the remaining two miles of the race.

Crossing the finish line of the race, I felt as if I had set a personal record. Incorporating these yoga techniques made me feel lighter, made me more confident and allowed me to put away the stress of the race to enjoy every single step. I’m recharged and ready for the next race that awaits me in my future. The question is…will it be a half marathon or marathon… 😉