Runner Strong Yoga: Pyramid Pose

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Most runners know they should do yoga. Most runners also think that means spending an hour in a yoga studio, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Even a few poses practiced regularly could mean the difference between an okay run and a good run. They call it a practice for a reason.

I am starting a new series called Runner Strong Yoga. Each month or so I’ll share one yoga pose that complements your running. I’ll share tips to do the pose correctly and fix any misalignments you might have. I’ll let you know what muscles the pose targets and any contraindications for the pose.

Fairytales and Fitness

Make sure your legs are very active (but don’t lock out or hyperextend your knees) and your back is parallel to the floor

Pyramid Pose: Good all around post run stretch
Pyramid Pose is actually a very accessible pose for most runners. It’s a standing pose that can easily be done before you even head home. Simply grab onto a tree, a wall, the trunk of your car, or a park bench. In addition to being a great hamstring and low back stretch, done right it can also help you strengthen your core and your legs.

Muscles Targeted

  • Lower Back
  • Hamstrings
  • Moderate hip stretch
  • Good allover body stretch

Contraindications

  • Be careful going too deeply into Pyramid Pose if you have low back issues
  • Be careful if you have hamstring injuries/issues
Make sure you’ve really engaged your core, your legs, are not overly rounding your back, or craning your neck up

Watch Out For

  • Feet not pressing evenly into the ground
  • Legs not straight and/or activated
  • Hips not level, side to side, up and down — or both!
  • Back rounding or dipping down (can you balance a coffee cup on your back?)
Having your hands on your hips can help you feel if your hips are in a neutral position
Make both feet are really placing into the ground/mat; thinking about pressing your front toe into the ground can help you really press down through your legs & feet

 

Holding onto blocks can help you to keep a straight back

How to Modify It
While this pose is great for beginners and experienced yogis, props can be a great addition to really give you the full benefit of the pose.

  • Prop your fingers up on blocks (no death grips, please!)
  • Practice with your hands pushing into a wall (or tree, or park bench if outside — even your treadmill!)
  • Place your hands on your hips or low back to see if your hips are level
  • If you find turning out your back foot bothers your knee, just keep the foot pointing straight ahead — but still keep it very active!

 

It’s okay if your heel pops off the ground with your back foot facing forward

 

Reverse prayer hands (hand come into prayer position at your back) can really help you open up across your shoulders and back. If that’s not available to you, you can try just holding onto your elbows behind your back.

Now let’s get into Pyramid Pose

  1. Standing at the top of your mat, legs hip width apart, step one leg back roughly the width of one leg. Both legs are straight, with just a slight microbend at the knees.
  2. Toes of the front leg point forward.
  3. Rotate the back leg out roughly 30 degrees, from the hip. If this bothers your knee, you can allow the heel of the back foot to come off the mat, or play with the angle of your foot until it’s comfortable for you.
  4. Press both feet firmly into the mat (if available to you), and really activate both legs so much that you feel a slight lift in your kneecaps.
  5. Feel your legs yearning towards each other and your big toe pressing firmly into your mat; this will help you balance.
  6. Draw your navel to your spine to activate your core.
  7. Think about lengthening toward the front of your mat as you slowly hinge forward from your hips until your back is parallel to the ceiling.
  8. Keep your gaze down and slightly forward (to the top of your mat if you’re on one); you want your neck in line with your spine.
  9. As you hold this pose for several breaths, think about your head and your tailbone continuing to move away from one another.
  10. To come out of the pose, slowly raise your head back towards the ceiling.
  11. Step your back foot forward to meet your front foot.
  12. Pause, notice if you feel differently side to side.
  13. Repeat Pyramid Pose on the second side.

Do you have a yoga pose you’d like to see featured here?

Do you have a favorite arm variation for Pyramid Pose?

If you try Pyramid Pose after a run, let me know how it felt!

Make today your best day: Spilling over tea/coffee October 2019

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September brought with it the start of a new (Jewish) year. I’d like to say it started off well, but that wouldn’t be the truth, and I believe in sharing — the good, the bad, the ugly. So no one ever thinks that someone else’s life is all unicorns and rainbows.

Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

There were still many happy moments in September:

  • Becoming a Yoga teacher
  • Teaching my first Yoga student
  • Getting my first medal for placing in my Age Group
Confessions of a Mother Runner

Pull up a chair and mug with Coco and Deborah and me for the ultimate coffee tea date, where I share what’s been good and bad in my life lately.

If we were enjoying tea/coffee . . .
I’d tell you that apparently chips and Greek yogurt are my go-to for the days I’ve spent hours in the car and don’t have the energy to reheat something.

I almost always have a plan for leftovers and all I have to do is reheat them. Yet 3 times (so far) I’ve come home from driving my mom around and had Greek yogurt and some type of healthy-ish chips.

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An act of kindness was rewarded

If we were enjoying tea/coffee . . .
Part of why I agreed to do the 5k with my friend on Sunday was simply because she’s been so supportive of me. She was my “student” for my practicum. That involved meeting several times to practice.

Then on the day we filmed it, it actually ran short. Like most of the students in the course, I obsessed about coming in at the right time, even though they assured us going over a couple of minutes wasn’t a big deal, and then It was actually a few minutes short!

So I asked her if she wouldn’t mind doing it again. It still came out short, but at least the second one was the one I submitted.

If we were enjoying tea/coffee . . .
I’d tell you that I’ve been messaging back and forth with one of the women about my age who also took the course (she happens to live in New Zealand). When I taught my first “class”, she asked me how it was, and I said it went really well.

She said she was extremely nervous to teach her first class. I was teaching just one person, and that was a person I’ve known a long time. I really didn’t feel that nervous. Plus I was teaching mostly Yin, which is holding poses a long time, so far less poses to remember.

My student really enjoyed it, and now will be a weekly student.

If we were enjoying tea/coffee . . .
I’d tell you I *think* I’ve given up the thought of another half for 2019. I don’t think I will have the time to train — not for a PR, but simply to put in the miles that *I* personally feel is necessary to be prepared to run 13.1 miles.

At this moment in my life I don’t want to put that kind of pressure on my running, which would take it from stress-busting to stress inducing, trying to find time to run without completely exhausting myself.

It does make me sad, I won’t lie. There is a time for everything in our lives, though, and clearly right now it’s time to take care of my parents — and myself.

Where’s mom?

If we were enjoying tea/coffee . . .
I’d tell you September was a really rough month and I’m exhausted — with no end in sight, really. I’ve split my time about evenly between home and my parents. The poor dogs never know if I’m staying or going (and neither do I, frankly). I often end up having to stay for longer than I plan for.

We had a setback this week, when I went down to stay with my mom for Rosh Hashanah, planning to take her to the rehab facility my Dad is in, and instead we ended up going back and forth to a hospital in CT (literally across the street from the rehab), as my Dad ended up there with non-life threatening, but painful, problems.

Do you believe no good deed goes unpunished, or what we put out comes back to us many times over?

Have you ever set aside your own goals to care for your loved ones?

Can you make today your best day? 

I am also linking up with the  Fridays with Fairytales and Fitness from Fairytales & Fitness.

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The one where I skip stuff: Runfessions September 2019

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I usually try to refrain from the “ohmygosh it’s already _____” statements. But ohmygosh I can’t believe September is almost over. Truly, with all the unexpected travel to my parents it went by in the blink of an eye. I’m joining Marcia @ Marcia’s Healthy Slice and getting a few other runfessions off my chest.

Except suddenly when I wanted to take a photo, it got a signal quickly! I had to stage this photo on a non-running day.

I runfess . . .
Lately the only reason my dynamic warmups have been happening are because it takes my Garmin Vivoactive 3 longer than I’d like to get a satellite signal most runs, leaving me enough time to do a quickie (and sometimes longer) dynamic warmup.

This past Monday I finally tried just seeing if it would pick up a signal on the run, like my old Vivoactive did. Apparently it will. Good, because I was really getting cross about how long it took to get a signal most days.

I runfess . . .
I am surprised that I’ve already had to resort to running in capris a few times when morning temps were in the low 50s. I’m always laying out two outfits, one with capris, one with a skirt.

My mom’s eyes nearly bugged out of her head one morning when I headed out for a run in capris and a tank top. Seriously, I wish I had a photo of that look! Mind you, this is a woman who wears turtlenecks all summer long.

I runfess . . .
This Monday’s run had me out the door without foam rolling. I’ll revisit this next week in my September grade, but foam rolling has been very scanty lately, and I miss it! I just knew I had a very narrow window to get out there for a run that wouldn’t be life-suckingly-bad once the clouds burned off.

It was the right call.

Using the little guy so my running  clothes wouldn’t get white blotches on them

I runfess . . .
In that same run I headed out without applying sunscreen. Usually I do it first thing when I wake up to avoid getting it all over my running clothes. I used to use Sun Bum, which is clear, but I tried another one that was on sale and it gets on everything.

I do have one of those small solid ones for my face, which I used. I also used it on my shoulders, neck and decolletage. Unfortunately I couldn’t reach my back. Really not good, and I runfess it’s not the only time it’s happened this month.

Sunscreen, even on a cloudy day, is really important, y’all! Do as I say, not as I rarely do.

I runfess . . .
I had one night when I got home from a visit to my parents where I ate the Garden of Eatin’ Sweet Potato chips my mom gave me (because of course she thought this healthy version tasted like cardboard) and greek yogurt for dinner. I was exhausted! And I’m human. Those sorts of instances are the exception — for sure! — not the rule.

What do you skip when you’re running out of time? 

What’s your go-to I’m-too-tired-to-even-reheat-something meal (not ordering in!)?

Have you had your first pumpkin whatever yet? Not me.

What do you have to runfess from September? Come join us

Runfessions

I am also linking up with:

 

Are you crutching?

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Crutching, yes, I totally made up a word: reliance on a crutch.

Runners can have many crutches, and it’s the rare runner that has no crutch at all. The only real problem with crutches is that we can become too dependent on them.

Fairytales and Fitness

Reliance on technology
Guilty as charged. I’d say I don’t have many crutches, but you will never find me running without my Garmin, unless it’s to catch a train. I don’t always pay attention to the data, but it’s collecting it as I run. So far, knock on wood, it hasn’t failed me in a goal race. I did not have a Garmin until my second half marathon, though, so I did run in the beginning with not a lot of input — and that left me undertrained!

I’m pretty sure I’d just run the race if it did. Whether or not I’d run it better or worse is anyone’s guess.

Reliance on music
I started out running with music. Sometimes I think about going back to it, but I gave it up long ago. I know a lot of runners who really have a problem if for some reason their music fails them during a race.

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Reliance on other people
Most of us will probably never run a whole race with another runner. Sure, some people do, and I once walked a race with a friend (we’d planned to run it together, but she was injured).

It’s definitely easier training with a buddy. You just have to be sure that when push comes to shove, you can go it alone.

Reliance on outcome
I train hard for goal races. I train (sometimes) with PRs in mind. I’m also painfully aware that just because you train well — even if everything goes right — an outcome is never a given. I always have a few goals, and while I might be unhappy if I don’t meet a time goal — although I rarely actually have one — if I’ve done my best, I get over that pretty quickly. I usually only get upset if I feel I gave up, for whatever reason.

Reliance on good weather
Most will advise runners to do their training runs no matter the weather. Because you never know what race day will hand you. It’s sound advice. I have raced in all sorts of adverse weather, from freezing temps to a Nor’easter to blazing temps.

I will still often choose to rearrange my running schedule due to weather. I know, though, that I have — and can — run through almost anything the day hands me. Except sleet or slippery snow!

Do you recognize any crutches you think might be hindering you?

What would you add to the list?

Can you think of a way a crutch can be a good thing?

 

No One-Size-Fits All

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Google training plans or eating plans and you’ll have enough choices to choose from to make your head spin. The problem? You are the only you there ever will be, and who knows who those training plans or diets were created for?

Fairytales and Fitness

Free training plans found on the Internet might work for you, but they’re not going to work for every runner and every runner would have to tweak the same plan to meet their needs.

No one size in training plans
That’s why I highly recommend working with a coach, even if it’s only for a short while. A good coach will ask you a lot of questions, and then tailor a training plan to meet your needs. They’ll update it on the fly, because a training plan is a living thing, and it should change as your needs change.

Even if a coach is not in the cards, if you decide to follow a training plan you find online, or in a book, or from a friend, you need to tailor it to your own needs.

Some people do great with high mileage, and that same mileage, for another runner training for the same race, will result in injury. Some runners can run almost every day, and others will benefit from more rest days and cross training. Some runners do best running by time, some by perceived effort, others by pace.

I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

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Ayurveda is tailoring your diet to you

No one size in diet
Your best friend gushes about her latest diet, how great she feels, how much weight she’s lost or muscle she’s put on. A trusted coach has a plan that works for all their athletes. That Facebook group you belong to is all atwitter with their newest plan.

No doubt all examples work for those people, but will it work for you? Maybe. Maybe not. No doubt you get frustrated when it seems to work for everyone but you.

That’s the beauty of trying an elimination diet, like the one I followed in Eat, Live Thrive (read the review here), or following the guidelines of Ayurveda (which I talked about a little in this post here).

Both these methods can teach you so much about your body, but they will require more time, effort, and paying attention to your body than you’re probably used to. The payoff is finding what works for your body, at this time. The only thing sure in life is that everything changes, and any woman in her 40s and beyond will probably tell you what  used to work for her no longer does.

Ayurveda is a fascinating and difficult subject, and next week I’ll be reviewing another book about it. The good news about Ayurveda is that there are more and more books lately that try to bring that ancient wisdom into our modern lifestyles.

Final Thoughts
Mr. Judy often complains about health science: that what was good to eat yesterday is demonized today. It’s a valid complaint.

On the flip side, there’s a certain beauty to knowing you can create a plan that is tailored to your specific needs. You just have to pay attention to your body.

Does change bother you, or do you embrace it?

Do you follow training plans from the Internet to the letter, or adapt them to your needs?

Have you found that you continually have to change up what you eat?

What if you ran like an elite?

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Obviously most of us are not going to be paid to run or earn a lot (or any, most likely) money running and racing. I think we could still all learn a lot from how elites run.

If you’ve ever watched an elite runner, you probably marveled at how effortless they make running fast look. A lot of effort goes into being an elite runner, and I think all runners could take a page from the elite runner’s book.

Pick races carefully
Elite runners don’t usually race injured. It happens, like it does to everyone, but they are much more choosy about the races they run. They often will bail on a race with weather that isn’t conducive to their best performance.

Obviously elite runners’ livelihood is on the line — there’s prize money to be won to support their families. Elite runners, can, and do, run in some amazingly bad weather, too. Boston Marathon tales are made from those races!

Because their livelihood is on the line, though, they are more likely to skip the races that don’t play to their strengths.

We may share a birthday, but not much else!

Don’t run #alltheraces
I still remember listening to Meb on a runner panel at my very first half — yes, that Meb (I wish I’d known who he was!). He talked about how elite runners don’t run a marathon every month. Don’t race a marathon every month, anyway, no doubt they’re running marathons as training runs, which is faster than we mere mortal runners can race.

Elite runners know that races are grueling and they need to be trained and recover properly — Deena Kastor even wrote about how she took months off after a marathon. No running at all!

Do all that supportive crap you don’t want to do
They take ice baths, they get massages, they foam roll, they lift weights, they do yoga — and more! They have a whole team taking care of them, of course. It’s their job. They also put in the hard work in every way to make their dreams come to fruition.

Take fueling seriously
You’re probably not going to find elite runners downing some beers the night before a race. Or having poptarts as a pre-race breakfast. They know that if you eat crap, you feel like crap, and even worse — it effects your performance.

Recover like it’s your job
Well, for them it is their job. However, not all elite runners are just runners. Believe it or not, some have families and jobs in addition to running, too. This one also goes back to #dontrunalltheraces — you generally won’t find them running a marathon every week, or month, or even multiple marathons every year. They take time off after a goal race to properly recover; to be able to come back even stronger.

What else do elite runners do that we could lean from?

Which one of these do you think would help you if you started to do it?

How much does hard work vs the right body type and talent come into play to make a runner elite, do you think?

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Linking up with Zenaida Arroyo and Kim @ Kookyrunner

This week I am also joining up with Running on Happy, Suzlyfe, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs each week for the Coaches’ Corner linkup

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Rest needed, stat!: Spilling over tea/coffee September 2019

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On Monday we spent the day with my parents. Despite the rain, the dogs were pretty good. Bandit (he appears here a couple of times) seems to particularly enjoy going to my parents — until it’s dinner time. We had a nice visit with my parents and some of their friends.

The next day my sister called to tell me my mom had found my Dad unresponsive on the toilet (sorry if that’s TMI) not too long after we left and he was in the hospital. They finally determined he has a blood infection and pneumonia. Yet he seemed normal Monday.

He’s tough, although quite frankly has little that makes him happy, and yes, we siblings have discussed that it would be a blessing if he passed quietly in his sleep. Sorry if that’s also TMI, but that’s our reality.

He doesn’t appear ready to go, though, for whatever reason. I am headed down there tomorrow — prayers & good vibes appreciated, but it sounds as though it’s not a dire situation, either. At 93, though, you never know.

Confessions of a Mother Runner

Pull up a chair and mug with Coco and Deborah and me for the ultimate coffee tea date — I enjoy hot tea year round, and just love curling my hands around a warm mug of tea. It’s so soothing.

I was going to video this soothing fountain on the patio, but the cars and occasional planes made me realize that it wouldn’t be so soothing to listen to. Still, it was a nice dinner!

If we were enjoying tea/coffee . . .
I’d tell you that Mr. Judy and I enjoyed an al fresco dinner at a very nice restaurant a couple of weeks ago. It was a lovely evening. While the restaurant is in a strip mall, they have tall shrubs surrounding it and it’s really quite nice.

We also had the patio all to ourselves. Despite the restaurant being busy, no one else chose to sit outside. Their loss!

Trails look so deceptively easy

If we were enjoying tea/coffee . . .
I’d tell you I enjoyed my trail 10k a lot more since I didn’t set out to race it and I had company for the second half. I would also runfess that I definitely wasn’t trained for that long on the trails, and I was tired by about mile 3! I finally runfess that I felt as though I had run a half by the time I finished, even though it was only half that distance (if you missed last week’s runfessions, they’re here).

Why is it that trail running, while so much slower than road running, feels twice as hard?

If we were enjoying tea/coffee . . .
I’d tell you that I am planning to take my YTT test today; nope, actually took it yesterday and passed with flying colors, although I didn’t think it was as easy as some did. I had wanted one more day to study, and to do it this morning when I wasn’t so tired (ha! didn’t get enough sleep last night), but I also want to get in a long run today and need to pack.

I submitted my practicum video on Wednesday; finished filming it right before the thunderstorms hit, thankfully. I’m pretty much assuming that I passed, but am waiting for my certificate and feedback on my practicum.

Bandit getting some Grandpa love — Grandpa didn’t act sick at all

If we were enjoying tea/coffee . . .
I’d tell you Bandit is a strange dog. I know, I know, they’re all strange in their own ways but he is probably the strangest one we’ve had so far. The last couple of times we went to my parents, he refused to eat dinner there.

I was prepared this time, and only offered a very little, and when he refused that I gave it to Lola who was happy to help. When I fed him when we got home, he still just looked at it. Until I realized that I’d put the glass bowl on the floor of his crate, rather than in the raised bowl I usually use; I was very tired. When I put it in the raised bowl, he chowed down.

The odd thing is that in the beginning we fed him by putting the bowl on the floor of the crate . . .  spoiled much?

If we were enjoying tea/coffee . . .
Poor Mr. Judy. He loves Bandit so. Bandit, who does like Mr. Judy, has made it very clear that I am his person. If I sit outside on the lounge chair, he almost always comes out and sits with me for a while — although with the cooling days, sometimes he doesn’t want to be outside.

He will go outside and lay with Mr. Judy — but only if I am not home. If I am home, and in the house, he stays inside with me.

What are some of your furkids quirks?

Do your furkids show a preference for one person or love the whole family?

Would you pick a trail race over a road race? 

I am also linking up with the  Fridays with Fairytales and Fitness from Fairytales & Fitness.

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