The London marathon is just a couple of months away. If you are one of the 386,050 applicants that that secured a place, you will no doubt be a fair way through your training plan already. Typically a marathon training plan can range from 12 to 30 weeks, depending on your running experience. How can yoga help you with your marathon goals?
Your marathon training plan
Aside from eating a healthy diet, keeping alcohol consumption low and staying flu-free over the wintery months, what else can you be doing to help you train for marathon day?
Maybe you have heard of yoga, maybe you have tried it, or maybe you are a keen yogi already and are actually a marathon runner too.
Whatever your situation, yoga and long-distance running have many cross-over benefits to help you achieve your goals.
Not only does yoga build strength and flexibility that help you run efficiently, whilst avoiding injury. It is also excellent for teaching the mental strength and determination needed to continually push yourself to better your time and cross the finish line feeling satisfied with your performance.
- Builds physical strength & flexibility.
- Helps with muscle recovery.
- Improves your breathing technique.
- Provides the tools for mental endurance.
- Promotes mindfulness & how to enjoy the journey, not just focus on the end result.
Five ways yoga can help your marathon training plan
Build physical strength & flexibility
Whilst there are many types of yoga, some of which are more dynamic than others, almost all have an element of holding poses.
Almost all also include an element of deep muscle stretching.
This develops added strength and flexibility, particularly in the core, hamstrings, quads and hip flexors, all of which are used extensively during marathon running.
Keeping in top physical form for your running training is essential, as well as ensuring your muscles are in the best condition possible to give you a pain-free marathon experience.
If you are a beginner, the best types of yoga to accompany your marathon training plan would be Hatha yoga, for strength and balance practice, whilst remaining low impact. If you prefer high energy activities then a gentle Vinyasa Flow could be a good choice.
Yoga introduces deeper stretches than you are likely to build into your pre and post running routine.
Yoga teachers are typically itching to help students both on and off the mat, so can certainly give added value to your training programme. They can recommend stretches and exercises for you to do in between classes, or help you ease a particularly tight muscle.
Try a weekly Restorative or Yin yoga to help you with muscle recovery. These relaxing sessions will be welcomed, particularly when you are ramping up mileage and your workouts are getting harder towards marathon day.
Better, deeper breathing technique
If you are a regular runner it is likely you will have developed your own breathing rhythm.
The benefits of good, deep breathing can definitely be felt on a long distance run as you feel the difference of having a fresh flow of oxygen.
Yoga teaches you to pay careful attention to your breathing and connecting each movement to an inhale and exhale.
When running, conscience breathing enables you to be more efficient with your breath and to feel a greater capacity in your lungs.
Aside from the physical benefits, runners report improved mental strength from practicing yoga a couple of times a week.
It also helps runners stick to routines, rain or shine, and improve running times.
Holding challenging poses on the yoga mat builds tenacity and determination that pays off in those running situations when you may feel like giving up. After all, being comfortable with being uncomfortable is a big part of long-distance running, and also of yoga. Building these mental tools enable you to dig a little deeper and keep on striving towards your training goals, or the finish line.
Promotes mindfulness & to enjoy the journey, not just focus on the end result
Yoga promotes mindfulness and the concept of living in the present moment.
The philosophy of yoga, as a way of life, is to always be focused on the here and now.
Not the past, or the future. So as a runner you wouldn’t focus on the fact you did a poor time in the last training run, or you wouldn’t get anxious that you wouldn’t meet your Personal Best come Marathon day.
Instead you would enjoy everything, taking the negatives simply as lessons and all the small achievements as steps on your path to success.
Even the pain can be appreciated, acknowledged and accepted by training your mind to think in the right way. Stilling the chitter chatter of self-doubt in your head, makes room for positive self-assurance.
If you want to give yoga a try to support your London marathon training plan, be careful to take a step-by-step approach.
Be sure to include your rest days and listen to your body. Speak to your yoga teacher about your marathon training schedule, so they can advise and help you in the best way possible.