Thursday, July 22, 2010

Yoga and Running

Right after I graduated from college, I had moved to LA and got a "stepping stone" type of job that required lots of hours of work work work.  I'm talking 8am - midnight M-F, and 8am - 5pm Sat and Sun.  The pay was good for a fresh college grad, but when divided out by the number of hours I put it, it was a meager amount.  I had no life, lost touch with a lot of my friends, barely had any time to sleep and definitely no time to work out.  I was moving around like a zombie everyday.  The firm also paid for all my meals so I would order whatever I wanted from any restaurant and eat at my desk everyday.  I would go through months of not seeing the sun!  It was a horrible experience and I was rather depressed.  After I pulled myself out of that hell hole almost 2 years later and got a new job, I had gained at least 15 to 20 pounds and was way out of shape.

The first thing I did to bring myself back together was to join Equinox.  I worked out religiously when I was in college, so I was no stranger to the gym.  But I was nervous to get back into it after treating my body like shit for so long.  I had no confidence in my athletic abilities anymore and I wanted to avoid high impact or any cardio work outs.  I thought I'd go back in nice and slow.  At the beginning, the membership fees at Equinox seemed pretty high, but after looking at their schedules of yoga and pilates classes, I figured it was worth it.  And that was how I would get back to being in shape again.

So I did yoga or pilates for about a year with minimum cardio training (eliptical machine for a few minutes at the most).  It was not a great way to lose weight but I did feel stronger and I could tell that my body became more toned.  The number on the scale stayed pretty much the same though.  But I started to love going to my yoga classes.  I would go at least 3 times a week.  I went to different instructors and different types of yoga classes.  I decided that I liked power yoga or vinyasa yoga the best because I liked the constant movements and they were challenging!  I wasn't one for meditation since I get bored easily.  I guess I need to work on that! 

Holding different poses was so hard for me at the beginning.  Gosh I couldn't even do a real push up back then.  I had to constantly move out of my poses for rest.  I wasn't all that flexible either so I wasn't good at the stretching and twisting type of poses either.  So basically I wasn't good at anything!  It was frustrating watching everyone else do things I never thought I would.  But I kept on going to my classes because I always felt great afterwards.  The benefits were worth the pain.

As time went on, I became better and better.  Slowly, but surely.  I was able to hold most of my poses without having to take breaks.  I was even able to do more advanced levels and my flexibility had improved greatly.  It's amazing when you actually SEE the difference.  I almost screamed and cheered for myself when I first accomplished a real push up during my vinyasa!  I think that was when I really started to believe in myself and the power of change.

So after going to the gym and practicing yoga regularly for about a year, I wanted more from myself.  And I had the confidence back that I COULD do more.  So, I signed up for my first 10k with a month of training time.  I was never a runner before, and when I first started with 1 or 2 mile runs, it was the most uncomfortable experience.  I got bad cramps, my face would quickly turn bright red from all my efforts, and shin splints made it almost unbearable!  I hated it.  And I was only running at 4 miles an hour pace!  That's like someone else's fast walking speed!

Well perseverance overcame my discomfort once again.  I think I definitely should have trained longer than a month because I almost died during the last 2 miles of my 10k race.  My boyfriend literally dragged me through the last mile, no joke.  I finished in an hour and 15 minutes.  But I finished it.  Then I swore I would never do it again.  Then I got back into it. 

That was almost exactly 2 years ago.  Today I can easily run a 10k and maintain at least 8 min a mile speed.  I went on a 10 mile run one Sunday just because I felt like it, and I did it easily without any type of training - that's almost a half marathon!  I don't get cramps and shin splints anymore, and my face stays the normal color because I can breath easier.  I also got into all sorts of other cardio work outs such as spinning and boxing.  Heart is a muscle too right??  I'm proud to say that I've trained it to be in top notch shape!  I can also lift more with my arms and legs, and I'm just much stronger overall!  I went to a nutritionist and started really learning about food and healthy eating.  I've dropped all the weight I had gained during my years of corporate slavery and more.  Most importantly, I've dropped my body fat percentage, and that's what I care about most of all.  I'm a picture of health nowadays just from eating right and exercising.  I am extremely happy at how far I've come..............  But, and here's the big BUT, I also stopped going to yoga regularly.  I had decided that I needed high impact, sweat inducing type of work outs in order to stay in shape, and just don't have time to fit yoga in my life anymore.

Last night, I decided to take a yoga class because I figured I needed a good stretch.  It was my first time in a long time attending yoga.  And I was horrified to discover that I can no longer hold the same poses like I used to when I was 25 pounds heavier!  My muscles were burning and I was once again coming out of my poses early for breaks!  I guess since I've been focusing so much on my "boot camp" type of work outs, I've let go of my muscles that support isometric movements.  Holding the same pose for an extended period of time is really no easy task!  Case in point, I woke up sore in many different places today.  I've always heard people say that yoga is great for runners, but I've never paid much attention because I thought they were referring to the stretching part, which is obviously good for runners.  But now I understand!  I need yoga to balance out my running and other types of cardio and strength training.

Last night's yoga class wasn't all bad news though.  I was able to accomplish a hand stand which I was never able to do before!  And that's definitely due to my increased strength in my arms and core.  So, I guess I got better at some things while neglecting others.  Balance is always hard to achieve.  But now, my goal is to supplement my work out routine with yoga once a week.  That way I can reap the physical as well as the mental benefit of practicing yoga.  Funny how things work - I am now going back to the old routine I had when I first started to work out!  It's humbling to know that there are many facets to everything we do, and things aren't always what they appear to be.


  1. Yoga definitely works muscles you didn't know you had. Did you do the handstand against the wall or otherwise?

  2. No kidding, I'm still super sore today! I did the handstand against the wall. Mentally I'm still too scared to try it without being near a wall! I was so glad I could get up there without help though. I did it on my hands as well as my forearms. So yay! New achievement for me. =)

  3. Its great you can get so motivated during the work week! Yoga really helps with running & I found that it really helps with my shin splits. Here's a free yoga video on shin splits that I found useful. Hope it helps!

  4. Handstand is one of the more intimidating poses, but once you do it, it feels awesome. I found Leeann Carey has a free yoga video with great pointers for Handstand. I thought your readers might want to check it out:

  5. I know this is random, but I was googling lululemon stuff and found your blog! Its crazy, I haven't read enough to even know your name or where you live, etc., but it sounds like we have a lot in common! So, thank you for your reviews on lululemon. I am just getting into their gear. I also share a lot of your nutrition views, and even did 6 months with now sugar as my new years res. this year. Right now, however, I've got 15 lbs more I want to lose, so thank you for your inspiration!
    I too totally started running, and then realized the amazing benefits of yoga, even with my bootcamp class performance. I soared to the top of the class after doing yoga the other 3 days of the week. I am a power "yogi" now for sure, but am a boot camper at heart (and a runner).
    I hope you don't mind me checking out your blog (I mean, that's kinda why we do them right? ;)).

    Amy :)

  6. Hi Amy! That's great about your nutrition and weight loss! Doesn't it feel great when you feel healthy and achieve the results you want?? Keep up the great work! I'm glad we share the same views! It's always nice to "meet" like minded people. =)

    Yes, I totally agree about mixing up different forms of exercises to push yourself to your potential. I too, am a boot camper, "yogi", and runner at the same time! I love doing it all because they all have different benefits.

    And of course I don't mind you reading my blog! I'd love for you to share your opinion with me related to fitness, nutrition, clothes, or whatever! So please feel free to stop by any time!


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