in lieu of running
The last thing I wrote was about my training for Moab: how I freaked myself out about it, and how the new goal was to have fun. I had spent months grinding my body day-in and day-out, getting lost on trails, squeezing long runs in on Friday mornings so I could go backpacking on the weekends, running from mountain lions, foam rolling to the point of tears, and eating everything in sight.
So..the race! Dare I say I reached my goal. I had a ton of fun. The race flew by, even given the fact I ran over two hours slower than what I could do on roads. (Here's the data if you're curious - who knew 11 min miles would be something to write home about.) The course was pretty crazy, with a lot of "slide on your butt" scenarios and extra loose sand that slowed everyone down. It felt more like a 26+ mile obstacle course (yes, there were ropes to help you up steep rocks) that had beautiful views, lots of river-wading, a decent amount of hiking, and a 1-mile slog up a huge canyon.
After the race, which was in the beginning of November, the days became shorter, the temperature dropped, and I had not one ounce of motivation to go for a run. My plan was to take two weeks off entirely. I then attempted to go on a run and I only made it 1.5 miles. Since then, I've maybe run all of six times? Seven? In nearly three months! It's the most time I've ever taken off from running ever ever ever!
However, I've kind of totally loved it. It's been so healing.
In lieu of running I started going to back to yoga. I fell in love with Baptiste Power Yoga when I moved to Boulder but hadn't been able to go as regularly as I wanted to once training took over my life.
The race was on a Saturday and I went to yoga that Monday morning, warning my teacher that my body was still in knots and I was mainly there to breathe and have the heated room start to melt out some kinks. The class felt so, so good, so I went again on Tuesday. On Wednesday. On Thursday. (See the pattern yet?) I essentially went to yoga almost every single day in November, which turned into almost every single day in December, and so on.
It has felt amazing. It's become as routine as what running used to be for me. My mind hardly wanders and I can truly be present for 75 minutes. I'm building up strength I never knew I had, opening back up my damn hips and hamstrings that were being crushed by weekly mileage, and even finding the courage to do inversions (going upside down used to scare me, and now I love it. I'm still pretty terrible at it but I love it).
Running had closed off my body in many ways—decades of pounding without proper recovery, along with sitting in front of a computer for most of my career, will do that to anyone. Some people are born bendy, and I'm the opposite. For so long, I could never touch my toes. If I kick my leg out in front of me and keep it straight, it's only a few inches from the ground. Sitting cross legged is torture, and I'll never ever ever ever be able to do a split. I don't think any amount of body work can fix my naturally immobile hips, but yoga has helped me make significant improvements.
Still .... yoga can be tricky. Anything too spiritual and woo-woo—The Universe, the chakras, the karmic energy—doesn't sit well with me. Yet, anything that advertises six-pack abs, sculpting, or shedding, makes me think it's missing the point, too.
What I love about the Baptiste style of yoga is it strikes an amazing balance; it focuses not on the universe, nor sculpting your beach bod. It focuses on you and your mind. Yes, Baptiste is still a physically demanding workout— it's a power vinyasa flow in a heated room. So much sweat!! Yet, no better place to challenge your mind than when you're forced into the fire.
There are 12 laws within the practice, my favorites being #6 & #7 - "drop what you know" and "relax with what is." It's pretty cool what happens when you stop listening to the tapes you play over and over in your head and actually ease into the uneasiness during the flow. That's where the meditation comes in. It's crazy what you can do when you take a step outside of your body and just notice what you're feeling. Focus on breath. Breathe through the warrior IIs and long-held eagle poses. Stop freaking out when feeling discomfort. And hold plank just a littttle longer. That's what Baptiste is all about.
Anyhow. Yoga has been a real workout for my brain, and it has simultaneously made my body feel less stuck. I feel lighter, stronger, and stretchier in general. Once the warmer weather rolls back around, I'll probably be back on the mileage train (as I type this, I'm also flirting with finding a 50K..). BUT. For now. A zero mile and 50 down dog week feels pretty good to me. :)