Inhale. Exhale. Run.
Guest post written by: Poppy Backshall of Poppy Backshall Yoga
Trail running; nothing beats that feeling of lacing up your trainers and hitting the trails! The chance to explore nature, switch off from daily stresses and be completely in the moment.
So, you’re on board: trail running is amazing, the benefits are huge and to top it off it’s highly addictive. Therefore we want to keep clocking in the miles for a very long time.
It could seem obvious that top trail runners have good strength, focus and a healthy diet. But is this enough to sustain a lifetime of long runs?
When looking to sustain and improve our trail running, we will likely develop some form of routine. The secret to every good training routine should be centred around listening to your body, as this will help you to notice signs before you start feeling burnt out or end up with an injury. Diversifying your exercise routine can also be super helpful. This is where yoga for runners comes in!
Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy. We need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight. Then, when you call on the muscles for your running, they are weak and unable to extend all the way. That puts you at risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage.
As a new yogi you should also be mindful of over stretching. Finding a yoga teacher that explores mobility, strength and stability, as well as flexibility, will be important to finding the right balance for you and your body.
Yoga for runners is so much more than passive stretching, which is great; as a trail runner you’ll benefit more from active stretches and working your muscles in a wider range of motion. As trail running primarily works the legs, yoga works more on mobilising and stabilising the whole body, helping you to improve your posture and develop better body awareness. Improving your posture is also believed to help you avoid that dreaded side stitch.
Your quads, calves and hamstrings work hard to propel you forward when trail running, but there’s another big muscle in play helping you to tackle those hills. Ensuring effective use of your diaphragm through experimenting with different breathing techniques can help you to develop your awareness, resulting in making you a more efficient breather. Yoga for runners will teach you to match your breath to your movements, encouraging deeper fuller breaths to relax or stimulate the nervous system.
Progression and sustainability are both important to living a healthy happy life. Equally so, we should ensure we are enjoying the journey. We are much more likely to stick at something and improve in the things we love and enjoy. Maybe that’s finding a yoga class or hitting the trails with a good friend – whatever it is have fun!
Author: Poppy Backshall of Poppy Backshall Yoga
If Poppy has inspired you to take your trail running to the next level, check out our Autumn Trail Running Camp. As well as personalised coaching from international fell runner Tim Higginbottom, you’ll also experience a yoga for runners workshop led by Poppy. Discover the benefits of Stretch, Form and Breath for yourself, and see where your trail running could take you.