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half marathon training

Yoga Review: Easy Yoga – The Secret to Strength & Balance

Part of my half marathon training is a weekly stretching session. (Yes, I stretch before and after each run too.) I generally suck at stretching, so I’m borrowing yoga DVDs from the library each week to force myself to do it.

PC YogaThis week I did another Peggy Cappy DVD, Easy Yoga: The Secret to Strength and Balance. It should have been called “Yoga for Patient People.”

This workout is from Peggy’s Yoga for the Rest of Us collection, so it provides instruction for people who have limited mobility or balance as well as people who can do regular yoga. Because of all these modifications, everything took longer than other yoga workouts. And Peggy has you breathe between everything – which may be a standard yoga practice, but her video seemed excessively long.

I will admit there were several times I checked my phone because I was bored. The video is 76 minutes long, and I felt like we barely did anything during that time. I didn’t even finish the full workout. The last section is a guided relaxation, but by then I had reached my limit of my patience, so I turned it off.

I think I am done with Peggy Cappy’s workouts. She is not a good fit for me. I reserved a different yoga DVD for next week. Even though it is a basic yoga workout, I hope it will be more challenging than Peggy Cappy’s.

Years ago, I did power yoga where you move fairly quickly from pose to pose. That was more my style. Perhaps I will look for a power yoga workout next.

Yoga Review: Yoga for the Rest of Us

I’m training for my fifth half marathon this fall. Since I DNFed my last race and I have a history of leg problems, I’m trying to be diligent about following my training schedule – including stretching.

Yoga for the Rest of UsAnyone who knows me knows that I suck at stretching. It’s so boring! Even in my gymnast days, I was never that flexible compared to my teammates. I was powerful, strong, and I just muscled my way through everything and they would bend themselves in half and take a nap. Every year, my gym put on a show in June – four performances over three days. The team kids were in every performance and we were expected to warm ourselves up on show days. I remember my last show weekend; even with a stress fractured back and sore knees, my “warm up” consisted of two standing back flips – one tuck, one pike.

Now that I’m getting a bit older, I don’t bounce like I used to. I still think stretching’s boring but it’s a necessary evil but my legs and back will thank me for it in the long run. My half marathon training program prescribes a stretching workout once a week, so I’m doing it with yoga DVDs.

In playing to my strengths, for this training cycle, I’m getting a different yoga DVD from the library each week. I hope the novelty of a different workout each week will keep me entertained even if I feel pathetic trying to stretch my ex-gymnast body.

I opted to start slow and easy with Yoga for the Rest of Us.

I’m not going to sugar coat it: this is an exercise DVD geared towards older people. If you don’t mind the possibility that the 60 year-old on the screen might have more balance and flexibility than you, it’s a good place to start. The good thing about this program is no one was a super-skinny contortionist that puts your efforts to shame.

A lot of yoga DVDs tell you that you can modify the poses using a yoga block or a yoga strap; this DVD showed you how to do it with a chair – something everyone has. It was a good stretching workout for getting back into my yoga groove. I definitely felt muscles that I haven’t stretched in a while and I built up a decent sweat during the sun salutations.

Overall it was a good workout for my first yoga session of race training, but I’ll probably need something more challenging in the near future. I’m glad there are super easy yoga DVDs like this because my impulse would probably be to start with an advanced power yoga routine that would make me feel self-conscious compared to the lithe gumby people on the screen.

EDIT: I just found out that the race I was training for was canceled. That’s a pisser. Doing yoga once a week is probably still a good idea. If nothing else, it will help with modeling.

Running and Head Games

My friend asked me to write about the head games when it comes to running, in particular how do I keep going when it comes to training for a race, not quit, and accomplish a goal. For me, once I’ve paid the race registration, not doing the race is not an option. The only exception has been the 2009 Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in Phoenix when I was in a car accident three weeks before race day.

Running by Tomas Fano from Flickr

Running by Tomas Fano from Flickr

I don’t train for 5Ks. I rarely ever do 5K races because I think it’s wrong that I will spend more time getting ready for the race and driving to the starting line than I will actually spend doing the race. But on the rare occasion I do one, my performance may be completely pathetic if I haven’t been training because I forget that 3.1 miles will be painful if I haven’t been running.

For long races like half marathons, I lock in to a training program very easily. I like Hal Higdon’s half marathon training program for novices. Even though I’ve done the half marathon four times, I stick with this program because it gets me ready for the race without causing too much leg pain for my ex-gymnast body.

I’m really strict about sticking to the training program. I put it on my calendar and not doing a run is not an option. It doesn’t have to be pretty; it doesn’t have to be fun; but it does have to get done.  It’s just one foot in front of the other. I plan out my route in advance so I know where my turns are and I just crank it out. There are almost no excuses for not doing a run.

  • I’m tired: Suck it up. The faster you run, the sooner you get home.
  • It’s dark: Wear a reflective belt so cars can see you and a headlamp so you can see where you’re going.
  • It’s cold: Bundle up.
  • It’s below freezing and there’s ice on the sidewalk: Wait until the ice melts but you’re still going.
  • It’s hot: Run before sunrise and put on some sunblock.
  • It’s raining: Leave your iPod at home.
  • I’m traveling: Pack your sneakers.
  • I’m sick: Would walking your miles interfere with you getting better?
  • I’m sore: Stretch more.
  • I’m hurt: Take it easy or walk.
  • I’m injured: Stay home and get better.
  • I’m busy: Make it work. If something’s important to you, you make the time.

One tactic that works well for me is running first thing in morning. I lay out all my clothes and gear the night before so I can get up and out the door before I fully realize that I’m awake. Once I’m on the road, I’m fine, but getting out the door sometimes the hardest part.

And I take comfort in knowing that running isn’t always fun even for the die-hard runners. I was at Runner’s Den getting new shoes last year and it was comforting to hear a clerk say that the first two miles are always painful for him. That’s me too, especially on the longer runs. It takes 10-20 minutes for my body to get used to pounding the pavement and find a rhythm for that day’s run.

So how does this translate to setting and achieving goals the real world that require a long term commitment?

  • Have a plan of action that makes sense for who you are and your goal.
  • Commit to following the plan. No, really commit to the plan.
  • Set yourself up to succeed.
  • Confront your excuses.
  • Adjust your plan when sticking to it will likely keep you from achieving the ultimate goal.

Goals should be hard to achieve. That’s part of what makes them worth pursuing. Accept that it’s not always going to be a fun time and take comfort that everyone who’s working towards a goal isn’t happy all the time along the way.