While viewing the Instagram feed, I was delighted to find out about Lululemon’s Heatwave 100km challenge back in the middle of November last year. The challenge was to clock 100km with Strava app from 1st to 25th November for an in-store surprise. Since the moved to Singapore from Dubai, I trained pretty much on my own without regular attendance at any running club. Not particularly Strava fan either – training miles clocked in Garmin I shared with my coach for performance evaluation.
Firstly, I was already in building miles for next race in Indonesia. Secondly, I always support this kind of community event to celebrate runners and make us better. Thirdly, I can run with other runners rather than my usual solo run. It also goes without saying that Lululemon being a global technical yoga and run clothing company did entice me to get involved.
Without much delayed, I joined Strava for the first time and then attended the community run on 25th November. Here are highlights of the event:
- Runners turned up for 10km or 15km run at Labrador Park. Not much interaction among runners like any usual running community club because after all, this is a Strava online member of this Lululemon club.
- Good short session of warm up in pairs by Reagan Kang from Haus Athletics turned out to be a good fun.
- I ran the 15km distance and really enjoyed the Southern Ridge course mixing road and trail with some elevation. The route was no marked and I didn’t download the given GPS, so I relied on chasing the fast runner.
- Met a wonderful bunch of Lululemon amazing crew and volunteers including Jesse Timm, who pushed me at the last bit of the run.
- Wonderful breakfast awaited us. Delicious granola provided by The Daily Cut and much needed Cocoloco Thai coconut water quenched the thirst on a humid day (didn’t know it can turn pink due to change in enzymes and antioxidant!).
- Finally, shoes off! A yoga stretch session by Lululemon’s ambassador, Katheryn Cofone made my legs lighter and untightened my hips post 15km run. Only wished it wasn’t under the hot sun, but it won’t called ‘heatwave’ event after all.
Thoughts and benefits of Yoga to runners:
I’m not used to posing in yoga movements straight away or immediately after run – only light stretching though and I realised I should make it a habit. It wasn’t easy to pull a certain pose that requires lengthening of leg and open up hip muscles. Yoga class I attended is usually after few hours of run, like in the evening or day after.
Regardless of when yoga is practiced, the benefits of yoga for runner are undeniable and indisputable. Yoga for me is a cross-training and it complements my training program as a runner. During off-season when I’m not training, harder yoga poses are pursued so new poses can be learned and improved (hello shoulder stand and pigeon pose!). As a runner, I don’t have to be noodle like flexible, instead be strong and flexible enough like spring or bamboo.
Below are the benefits I encountered with practicing yoga as endurance runner in general, or trail runner specifically:
- Mula Bandha – It means ‘Root Lock’ in Sanskrit. It’s the holy grail of yoga which involves contracting the anus (or to be specific the pubococcygeus/PC muscle) to create stability on the pelvic floor because the pelvis is the seat of our spine. With Mula Bandha practiced during running, my running form feels light, easy, supported, relaxed, graceful and aided me to prolong long hours of run.
- Strengthening –Upper body work out is often neglected among runners. Yoga practice strengthens entire body especially gives a strong arm and core (e.g. plank and Chaturanga). Yoga leads to stronger running through improvement of the powerhouse – the core. During self-supported trail race that requires carrying some weigh, when fatigue kicks in after long hours on the legs, a strong upper body and core are crucial to keep moving forward.
- Flexibility and mobility – Not just for overall body flexibility and agility, yoga strengthen key joints, ligaments, and tendon. The ankle stability is important when running on uneven terrains for trail runners, and yoga practice help to achieve this.
- Beyond stretching and prevent injuries – Just like food is medicine, yoga too is a medicine that prevents injury associated with running overuse. I make an effort to attend yoga therapy class once a week which make me feel rejuvenated, light and ready to pound again the next day. The movements in yoga counteract the repetitive motion that running put on the toll to the body. It helps to heal muscles stiffness or soreness.
- Focus – Yoga teaches about concentration and focus. The focus is on instructing the mind to find a settling place. At every yoga pose, there’s a correct gazing point so balance is engaged. But, as we move, this gazing point can move and change too which is important when running on the trail to help to navigate through an obstacle on the ground with antenna eyeball constantly adjusting and oscillating between look forward, look closer to the ground and check out the surrounding.
- Visualise – The power of visualization taught at the end of yoga class is not just for medication. Aside of getting to the top of big hill or finish line visualisation, I usually envision any elite runner and then instruct every piece of running muscles to emulate the running form i.e. perfect posture, run tall and stride effortlessly.
- Mantra – Never mind the chanting, I’m more about the mantra. A mantra is a positive affirmation that connects our awareness to energy and consciousness. ‘Shut up buttercup’, ‘Don’t be a pussy’ and ‘Climb the spine’ are few examples of mantra I used when the going gets tough in ultra running.
- Calm and Equanimity – The mindfulness in yoga help to reduce stress by being calm. When running after long hours, the element of stress exerts on the body. Further uncontrollable factors can add to the challenge and heighten the stress for runners. The relaxed but alert mind mental state and being calm is key to help runners think clearly when issue or problem arises. In case of trail running, this can be like getting lost alone in the middle of the night while looking for markers or simple issue like water bladder leak.
- Breathing – While I’m yet to fully master this (thanks to the constant panting and gasping running in high humidity weather), practicing yoga does help to regulate my breathing so it’s becoming more about breathing easy, slow, deep and rhythmic. It certainly helps with nausea and dizziness I usually suffer in ultra-race.
- Appreciate and gratitude – The most intangible benefit of practicing yoga is possessing gratitude state of mind. Appreciate the privilege of being a runner by feeling the utmost gratitude for the physical capability to run, to have the freedom and choice to run. With it comes an appreciation of oneself and its surrounding. In trail running, conscious and gratitude make a runner at peace with the surrounding – despite having a tough course and when the body gives in to fatigue.
Look forward to much more community event like this by Lululemon combining yoga and running. Clearly, it motivated yogis to involve in easy running and runners to engage in less-intense yoga.
Btw, the in-store surprise was simply awesome – a pair of running short by Lululemon.
More details at Lululemon Singapore. Check out their upcoming events which usually are engaging, and informative about many facets of yoga practices. Plus, a chance to meet up with local talents and connect with your tribe.
Runners, do you gain the benefits mentioned above from practicing yoga? Any yoga-for-runner center or class that you can recommend in Singapore? Or any running yogi out there worth recommending?
Live To Thrive,
P.S: I’ve missed out on last month 40/80 Challenge, hope there’s more of this nature during the course of the year. Did you participate?