I did the full primary series today — that felt awesome as always. Since that took over an hour, and I had several things to finish today, that was going to be my sole activity.
But I thought, well, I’ll at least take the dogs out. It was a nice day, and I usually like some type of outdoor break around lunch when I’m working at home.
When we got to the trail, I thought, well, I’ll take them on a slow jog — it’ll be good for them! I hadn’t run for a few days so it would be good for me, too. I figured we’d go 20 minutes, and my Apple Watch will count 20 minutes which is good, since earlier in the day I had planned for zero minutes.
But I do like to close that exercise ring, so after I took the dogs out I thought about doing another 10 minutes of jogging on my own. Actually, I’ve been trying to get 40-45 minutes of exercise at a time this summer. So I thought, well, I’ll hop on my bike and go 20 minutes.
So I put on my bike shorts and headed out. When I got out 10 minutes, I thought I could turn around, but also, I could keep going and just do this 7-mile loop I had been doing all summer as a little time trial. The wind would be at my back going toward home, so that was a plus.
A day that started out with a plan to exercise for zero minutes ended up as a 51-minute day. Perhaps this makes up for all the days where I plan to exercise and end up doing nothing…
If you obsessively track anything related to your fitness, raise your hand!
I’ve tracked my running miles over the years, but most consistently since 2016. No real reason — I guess to simply see how the miles add up. I like to compare month to month, and year to year.
So this year, well really at the end of last year, I decided upon a little experiment: I was going to run less and focus more on my yoga practice.
The dedicated yogis I got to know in the past few years, specifically the dedicated Ashtangis, seemed to do quite well doing only yoga. Because I was averaging about 80 miles a month, I was experiencing tight hamstrings and tight hips, which made it a challenge to achieve certain asanas.
But I’ve been a runner since about 1995, and I had grown accustomed to view running as my primary workout and the “only” way to stay in shape. In the past 8 years I also added cycling and swimming to the mix as I incorporated triathlons into my schedule.
I really do enjoy running. So far I have not experienced anything that delivers such a “quick hit” of endorphins. I can go for a 30-minute run and feel energized and “high.” The dopamine effect is real. After a bad day, a run is a beautiful antidote.
In 2018, I committed to a marathon. I had done five marathons previously and felt done with that, lol. But I was asked to do a charity run for a nonprofit, and I couldn’t say no. Running for something beyond myself gave me extra motivation. But I told myself in 2018 that after the marathon, I’d be done.
I vowed to still work out. My goal was 30 minutes a day for most days, but that consisted of primarily the elliptical and “HIITmill” at the gym. I did very little running throughout the winter. And I added an Ashtanga practice most mornings (though a truncated practice–at least it was something).
Now that we’re halfway done with the year, I decided to check on my running stats.
Holy crap, my running mileage is down 70 percent from last year!
The thing I was most nervous about — gaining weight — did not happen. In fact, I’m down one pound over this time last year. I always thought I needed a heart-pumping cardio workout like running to maintain my weight. But lo and behold, this yoga thing seems to be working!!!!
Now yes, I’m still running, but it’s about twice a week. I also am biking more than I did last summer, but anywhere between 7-15 miles at a time, 2-3 times a week. I’ve gone swimming once so far this year, lol.
I do notice a decline in my cardio capacity. My heart rate seems to go higher more quickly than it did when I was running a lot. So I can tell that my heart muscle probably isn’t in as good of shape as it used to be.
I do like a good cardio workout once in a while. I like to get my sweat on. But this experiment tells me that perhaps some day I will transition almost completely to yoga as the way to stay in shape.
I’m a little more than three months into my experiment of not running regularly. After the marathon in October, I wanted some time away from a strict running schedule.
This is a first for me.
Even when I wasn’t training for a running event, my mindset always was, I should really get out there and run. I saw running as the most efficient workout — even 15 or 20 minutes was enough to get my heart pumping, clear my head and receive a boost in metabolism.
My goal post-marathon was to get away from running but move at least 30 minutes most days of the week. This has included a treadmill or outdoor run, as well as equipment at the gym — the elliptical, the HIITmill, and the stationary bike. If I’m at the gym I also add 10-15 minutes of strength/core work with weights and machines.
I’m enjoying the variety and not being tied to running. As a result, I’m working out more frequently. I usually can fit in 30 minutes five or six days a week. When I was training, I generally only ran four days a week. I feel like 30 minutes a day is pretty low-commitment. When I’m training for a run, I can only get in three miles in 30 minutes so my workouts usually had to be much longer than that, which became a stress when trying to find the time amid everything else.
On top of this, I have my near-daily yoga practice. So with the combination of everything, I’m feeling strong and healthy. The experiment is going well so far!
Have you changed up your routine? Is there something you thought you’d always have to do and were reluctant to give it up?
Yes, I want more people to check out yoga classes. But for yogis to promote yoga as a cure-all and as a way to prevent injuries is irresponsible. Of course I believe the benefits outweigh the risks, but new practitioners should be mindful going into it.
I liked an article (posted below) from the Washington Post that was reprinted in the Dec. 23 edition of the Minneapolis StarTribune. I thought it had a lot of good tips.
Yoga injuries are likely going to come from overuse and overstretching. But I believe that listening to your body is going to be the most important way to prevent injuries. I think a lot of yoga injuries result from people looking at others in a class and trying to do what they’re doing. They forget that the person on the mat next to them may have been practicing yoga for many years. Letting go of ego and letting go of competition will go a long way in keeping yourself healthy on the mat.
I’m only a few days into eating a primarily plant-based diet, but I’m already feeling better and seeing results.
I generally have eaten pretty healthy in the past few years. I like fruits and vegetables and make it a point to eat those every day. I like to eat well because I like to be active, and I can’t fuel my body on garbage. But my main challenges have been:
Simply eating too much, especially now that I’m not logging lots of miles like I was prior to the marathon in October.
Still lacking willpower to walk away from the sweet treats — totally my weakness! I would never eat chips or fries again in my life if it meant I could still eat cookies.
Drinking too much alcohol.
These have been my challenges for about three years. In 2014, I wasn’t happy with my eating habits or my body and made some major changes. I was able to keep this up mostly through 2016. But since then, I’ve struggled.
I’ve made half-hearted attempts to rediscover that good place I was in a few years ago. But nothing ever stuck and I’d quickly be back to my old habits (or more accurately, not even wanting to change).
But a couple of weeks ago, something happened. It was definitely an internal/mind change. I kind of just lost my taste for junk. I craved freshness. That’s what I wanted to put into my body. Whereas I hadn’t cut back on alcohol because I simply liked it, in the past couple of weeks the thought of drinking kind of turned my stomach.
I credit the change to a few things:
Making yoga and meditation a daily routine. I wake up and immediately begin my practice. Sometimes it’s only 15 minutes, sometimes it’s an hour. I’ve been sustaining this for about a month.
Disliking how my body feels when I’m not kind toward it. A morning practice is difficult and challenging when if the night before I drank and ate garbage. I got tired of feeling that way.
Letting go of psychic baggage.
Just in the past few days, I’ve noticed that I’m sleeping better and have lost weight. And the new diet is highly satisfying and filling! This is a HUGE change for me. As a pitta, I’m often ravenous and counting the hours until the next meal. I have never missed and meal and have never forgotten to eat! But something like the six-taste bowl pictured above sustains me for hours. This has been the biggest surprise of this new routine.
This is not a diet or a miracle fix. This is a way of life. I have never participated in any fad diet, because I know the key is being able to sustain the way you eat. I don’t anticipate a problem incorporating more vegetables and less meat and dairy into my diet.
At this moment, I’m not saying that I won’t ever eat meat or dairy or sugar again, or that I’ll never have another sip of alcohol. I resist strict rules. Even if the rules are good for me, my instinct is to break them just because they’re rules! I’m also a slow learner and like to dip my toe in the water before going all in. For example, I did several 5Ks and 10Ks before doing a marathon. I did sprint triathlons before moving on to Olympic-distance triathlons. Unlike someone I know, who signed up for a full Ironman triathlon without knowing how to swim!
So I’m considering this a primarily plant-based diet, with some exceptions. I think the key to making something work for you is to tailor it to your needs and lifestyle. Make it individual for you. What works for someone else may not work for you.
“Many people assume that because they cannot easily bend their bodies into the pretzel-like positions of the Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series that this method is not for them. The sole qualification for the practice of Ashtanga Yoga is to love your practice and to ‘show up’ on your mat as much as possible. It does not matter what level of asana you perform, because the inner work of yoga is fueled by the authentic search for inner peace.”
Since June 8, I’ve showed up to my mat much more than I ever have in the past 16 years since I was first introduced to Ashtanga. I show up on my mat most mornings. Do I spent a ton of time on the mat? No. Most mornings at least 20 minutes. Only about one morning a week am I showing up for 30-45 minutes. But this is a vast improvement over other years when I didn’t even have a home practice and was doing Ashtanga only when I showed up to a led class 3-4 times a month.
Moving forward, I’d like to increase the time of my home practice to at least 30 minutes most mornings and to get back into doing the full series at least once a week.
My major challenge right now is motivation. I’ve hit the low point of the semester — long days at the office with lots of meetings and advisee appointments. This means that prep work and grading is happening in the evening when I get home and the weekends. It’s been hard to get up in the mornings knowing I have such a full day ahead. But that is exactly the time to bump up my practice.
I have the excuse of teaching yoga two mornings a week, which forces me out of bed. When class is over, I spend 20-30 minutes on the primary series finishing poses plus some cardio work. If I didn’t have to get up to teach, I think I’d probably opt for staying in bed as long as possible. I hope once I get past this busy time at work, I will feel more motivated.
How do you stay motivated for working out or for your yoga practice?
If you’re a woman, I’d guess the answer is pretty often.
I went through a women’s leadership training a couple of years ago and now my ears are open to how often women put themselves down or minimize themselves.
I’ve seen it crop up over and over the past few weeks in regards to running events.
In Minnesota, we just finished a couple of big running events: The Twin Cities Marathon and the Mankato Marathon. I know several people who took part in both.
As with most marathons, besides the full 26.2 mile run, there are other distances to choose from as well — 10 miles (Twin Cities Marathon) or 13.1, 6.2, or 3.1 (Mankato Marathon).
I have heard several women, when asked what distance they are doing, respond with, “Oh, I’m only doing the 10K” or “I’m only doing the 10-miler” or “I’m only doing the half.” As if doing a distance less than the full is something to minimize.
No matter the distance — 3.1 miles, 6.2 miles, 10 miles, 13.1 miles, 26.2 miles — you are out there running. Own it and be proud of it.
I posted this on Facebook a couple of days ago and it received 19 comments. I think it hit a nerve. Many women said something like “thanks for the reminder.” Many women also said they were guilty of saying something similar.
Your biggest competitor is yourself. Don’t look to others to gauge your self-worth. What you choose to do with your body, and how you move it, is your choice.