Declaring Independence

For the second time in as many weeks I finish six point two miles training for my 10k. If you’ve ever felt you could never run that far – come sit next to me. I’ll tell you what, not only is running easier than yoga, the running websites, clubs and groups are a hellaof a lot more inclusive and friendly than yoga. Fear not! Your running will up your yoga game. And for sure your yoga will turbo charge your running. They make an excellent cross training pair. Yoga increases bone density, body awareness and flexibility. Running calms the mind, burns calories and develops core stability. Besides running is fun.

If you read this blog regularly you know I fractured my hip in the years before universal health care. Brace yourself, those days are cresting the horizon again. If you haven’t got access to preventative health care keeping yourself fit is a must. I was lucky I wasn’t in terrible shape before my injury, but I’ve mos def been in kind of bad shape ever since. That is why I feel a hundred percent qualified to tell you “If I can do it you can.” I’m not thin. I’m not blonde. I’m not coordinated. I’m just a slightly irregular Joe. I got myself up and running. Why not you? Perhaps you’re wondering, “Me? Why me? I thought this was a yoga blog.”

Five reasons yoga lovers ought to cross train with running:

Yoga lowers metabolism. That’s great and all, until it’s not. Lower metabolism means calories burn slower. Unless I eat as scant as a swami – keeping weight off is impossible, especially with the advent of my menopause. So I run, to boost my metabolism back up.

Running requires rhythm and rhythm is meditative. Much as yoga is touted as the moving meditation, I find the play list and instructions from the yoga teacher interrupt my focus. Unless I’m doing my yoga at home, alone – it’s not very meditative. Running by contrast is meditative as long as I don’t bring along my chatty friend.

Running is social. Yoga can be isolating. Don’t get me wrong. I love my solitary Ashtanga practice. Getting away from the competition at the studio is relaxing, but a solitary practice is just that: solitary. By contrast running is social. I can either pick a well populated trail, in just a few days I start to recognize the faces of the other runners or I can run with a partner. My chatty friend talks to me the whole hour and a half – there’s something that doesn’t happen in yoga class. 

Running is inclusive. Running’s a reality check for the yoga aficionados who blah blah blah every day about how Yoga Works For Everybody providing an eyeful of what a truly inclusive sport looks like. Runners welcome even the fattest need-to-lose-over 400 pounds participants with applause, just for trying. People of all colors, creeds, genders and ages are on the road every day. I swear I don’t make this shit up. Runner blogs and websites regularly print articles celebrating older runners, younger runners, runners with disabilities, new runners. Yoga blogs? Not so much. If there’s a piece at all on a fat girl, we like to use euphemism: “curvy” sheesh.

Running has clearly defined goals. Those goals may be speed. Those goals may be distance. Those goals may be a timed race like the one I enter myself in this next July 4th. Yoga, by contrast has vaguely defined goals. We’re suppose to learn how to see things as they really are, tearing down the veils of illusion. Merge with the universe, knowing ourselves as part of the whole. Get enlightenment. Without clearly defined goals forging ahead can sometimes feel irritating. I temper my frustration by doing other things: running, writing, real estate – in addition to yoga. The blend works for me.

But how does a person get from couch potato to 5k, let alone 10? The answer is easier than I expect. I start with a walk run combination. In the beginning I tackle distance not time. This is an important distinction. Don’t try to start by jogging a mile, even if you can go a mile. My point is, and I do have one, is that people who start out running day one a full mile, no stops, no walks rarely stick with the program. By contrast, if you can get to two or three miles by utilizing walk/run, you will be pleasantly surprised without feeling wrecked.

If day one had left me with sore legs, knees, or blisters I wouldn’t have continued. The walk/run, got me past 2 miles on even my initial outing, without any side effects. I spent a couple of weeks at a pace of three minutes jogging to one minute walking before my body settled. Then I upped my ante to several sets of seven minutes jogging to one minute walking interspersed with three/ones. On an easy day I might take more 3/1, on a hard day I might increase to an 11 minute run to a one minute break. Little by little I increase the amount of time I spend running and decrease the amount of time walking without ever doing less than a mile on any given day. In less than 5 weeks I am up to being able to finish 10 kilometers, albeit slowly.

I take at least one day off from running every week. Admittedly I never follow the Ashtanga advice of taking days off. Jois taught moon days (when a woman menstruates), full moon, new moon and one day off a week. My poor stiff body does better without yoga breaks. Recovery from running, however, sits well with me. I run a hard day at least once a week. The other days are walk / run as suits my needs until the 4th when I’ll waddle into last place at the Newhall Independence day 10k. Other people may say, “I don’t care about my time i just don’t want to be last!!” But as for me, all I care about is my time. I’m establishing a baseline for myself so I have something to compare myself to – as for place? I fully expect to be dead last. There’s no denying I can’t keep up, lol.

I’m just happy to participate. The way I look at it, if I end up discovering I’m sick at my next doctor appointment I’ll have bigger things to feel about than my placement in a fun run. So why feel bad?

Now y’all play nice.

Sat Nam