Putting together the right training regimen is absolutely essential to an athlete’s success. While many runners may be under the impression that sprints are the best way to get faster, a diversified training plan is actually more helpful in the long run. Running isn’t just about speed— it’s about developing and understanding the complex relationship between muscle groups, hormones, and signals in your body and mind, and using that information and training to optimize your body.
In order to really develop your body for running, you’ll need to maintain a higher level of fitness. This is where cross-training comes in. According to Verywell Fit, cross-training is a great way to condition different muscle groups, vary the stress placed on different muscles, and keep you excited and motivated to keep exercising.
Cross-training can be achieved using a variety of different sports and movements, but not all of them have to be equally strenuous. Remember, the goal is not to push yourself to exhaustion, but to develop a system that helps you achieve better all-around conditioning. Yoga, for example, is an alternative exercise that can help you improve your skill, agility, and balance. Check out many of the benefits of yoga for cross-training below.
Improves Core Strength and Flexibility
Yoga is an activity that has you cycle organically through a range of poses, sometimes for minutes at a time. These different yoga positions have many benefits, but chief among them is the ability to develop a stronger core and increased flexibility. Sports science researchers from universities in Hokkaido found that dynamic stretching, including yoga, actually increased endurance for well-trained runners and overall improved performance. The increased range of mobility that comes from practicing yoga is definitely helpful for runners in the long run.
Helps You ‘Get Into the Zone’
Like any sport, running is a mental game as much as it is a physical one. Even if you’ve gone through all the training in the world, it won’t matter much in competition if you aren’t able to get the right focus. This is where yoga comes in. Having negative thoughts and being distracted can have a huge impact on your speed as a sprinter. During a competition, it’s particularly important to stay focused and calm. In our article on the spiritual benefits of yoga by Jane Adamson, she explains that it can alleviate feelings of anxiety, giving you the confidence you need to stay centered and focused.
Promotes Proper Breathing
As you exercise, your body produces more carbon dioxide, which in turn means that you need to take in more oxygen. Learning how to breathe properly is an essential part of running technique, and runners can further develop this through practicing yoga. Yoga instructor Anshu Verma writes that the breathing exercise Pranayama is able to increase oxygen intake in the body by up to five times. Proper breathing technique also reduces anxiety and stress, and overall increases your fitness level.
Finally, one other benefit of yoga for runners is that it can help reduce injury. Podium Runner says that yoga can be used by runners to help prevent injury and increase recovery from high-intensity training. Even simply practicing yoga at home for around 10-15 minutes might make enough of a difference. The less strenuous routines found in many yoga practices are excellent for cool down or warm up exercises, and if you need added guidance you can also look into yoga for runners classes in your area.
For more on the many benefits that you can get from practicing yoga, check out our article on ‘5 Reasons Why You Should Start Doing Yoga Today’.
James Gonzales is a Filipino-American travel enthusiast and writer currently based in the Philippines. After living and working in New York for 10 years, James decided he wanted to see more of the world and leave the city behind. In the course of saving up for what would become an epic trip across Asia, he wrote about previous traveling experiences for various travel websites and publications based in the Lower East Side.
James focused on journeying through the Philippines in the hopes of understanding his roots, and began Daydreaming in Paradise to share his thoughts and experiences. He’s always looking for like-minded travelers to trade stories and swap tips with, and he hopes you’ll join him on his journey.