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Yoga for Runners: Warm Up & Cool Down Routines

I am SUPER excited about this post!  My friend Danielle and I have been talking for a while about bringing some yoga tips to all of you RAD readers.  I strongly believe in the benefits of yoga to help in all areas of fitness and some of Danielle’s tips saved my legs when I tackled the Dumbo Double Dare Challenge last year.  This is the first of regular posts from Danielle in a new Yoga of Runners series…hope you enjoy!  Namaste 🙂

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Hello Running at Disney Readers!

I’m Danielle and I blog over at Live, Run, Grow!  I’m a runner and certified yoga teacher and recently completed my 4th full marathon as part of the Dopey Challenge.  I love sharing the benefits of yoga with other runners, so I was excited when Sarah invited me to be a regular contributor on Running at Disney!

Dopey Medal Photo

While I’ve always been a fan of yoga, I don’t think I fully understood the effect it would have on my running until I began training for my 2nd marathon.  While training for my first marathon I had unfortunately gotten a little lazy about keeping up with my yoga practice since I was so focused on running.

Training for marathon #2 happened to coincide with my yoga teacher training and I was doing 3 days of vinyasa yoga a week.  I was worried that all that yoga was going to effect my running…and it did, but not how I expected!  My long runs felt stronger, I didn’t experience the stabbing piriformis pain I had the first time around (also known as “runner’s pain in the butt”) and my long run recovery was amazing (I was barely sore after 22 miles!).

When I began running and started doing some research on training I was surprised to learn that stretching was such a controversial topic!  Many believe that stretching before a run can lead to injury…and I’m sure for a lot of people this is true.  If you don’t stretch often and your muscles are cold and tight it’s easy to push too far and hurt yourself.  But, if done correctly, incorporating yoga into your regular routine can actually stretch and strengthen the major running muscle groups and help to prevent injury!

Danielle - Yoga Headshot

So, here are some tips on how you can incorporate yoga into your training, along with some great resources for short yoga sequences and additional information:

Warm-Up

It’s important to warm up your muscles before heading out for a run to avoid injury, and yoga is a great way to do this!  While you don’t want to do static poses or stretching when your muscles are cold, dynamic poses & movement are a great way to get your body ready to head out!  I learned this short routine at a workshop I took with Sage Rountree, an internationally recognized authority on yoga for athletes.

Repeat this series 5 times on each side moving fluidly with your breath:

  • Begin in mountain pose
  • Lift arms over head and lift one knee so that thigh is parallel to floor
  • Step back with raised leg into a lunge position
  • Transfer weight into original standing leg for warrior III
  • Bring raised leg forward back into knee lift
  • Lower leg back to mountain pose

Runner's World Warm Up

You can view a video of this warm up series here:  http://www.runnersworld.com/stretching/body-shop-turn-your-heat

Strength

While many people don’t consider yoga a “real” workout, anyone who’s held a standing balance pose until their leg was shaking will surely argue otherwise.  Yoga is a great way to strengthen not only the muscles you use to run, but it will also get those muscles that sometimes as runner’s we forget about!

Cool Down & Flexibility

Let’s face it, runners aren’t usually known for being the most flexible bunch, but a little extra flexibility can go a long way when it comes to muscle recovery and preventing injury.  This short post run sequence targets the hamstrings, quadriceps, piriformis and hips and is a great way to end your run!

Hold each pose for 3-5 long deep breaths, repeating the sequence on each side.

  • Triangle
  • Triangle Forward Bend (Pyramid)
  • Lunge
  • Pigeon
  • Head to Knee Pose
  • Happy Baby

Triangle Forward Bend

You can view a video of this sequence here:

http://www.runnersworld.com/stretching/post-run-yoga-flexibility-routine

Here are some of my favorite resources for additional information on yoga for runners:

  • Any of Sage Rountree’s books, my favorite is The Athletes Guide to Yoga (All her books are available on Amazon or on her website.)
  • You can also find Yoga for Athlete’s specific classes with Sage on YogaVibes.com (and they offer a 15 day free trial!)
  • The video’s I provided are from Runner’s World website and there are a lot more where they came from (they are under Training & Plans / Stretching)

If you have any questions about incorporating yoga into your running routine please feel free to leave a comment here or you can find me at www.LiveRunGrow.com or on twitter at @dnardi710.

One Response to Yoga for Runners: Warm Up & Cool Down Routines

  1. Great post & thanks for sharing the videos! I’ve done two 5k’s in the last 6 months & I try to do a yoga session before or after the race. I found it really helps!
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