Your body is your vessel for life – look after it not punish it

As a yoga teacher and a runner, my views often conflict with other runners… I like to enter races for the enjoyment of it but I’m not very competitive… I believe in training hard to improve, but not in pushing yourself to the body’s limit. I came up against the latter just last weekend, running my first ultra marathon at the now notoriously tough Roseland August Trail (RAT). It was a great event, and I coped well with the distance but towards the end on that terrain it was very, very tough, and definitely the hardest event I have done so far. I felt an amazing sense of achievement at the end and glad that I had taken on the challenge.

Although I trained for this 32 mile ‘race’, I only felt like I got some proper mileage in the month preceding the event and despite doing several back to back long runs, none of them were over 20 miles. You see, as important as it is to train, I believe that it’s just as important to recover. My daily yoga practice enables me to feel fit and fresh on almost every run, including my first run after the extremities of the RAT. Of course I felt a bit stiff on Sunday morning but after an hour of stretching and a walk, my legs felt (almost) good as new.

I hold ultra runners in very high regard, they are as tough as they come – determined, strong and relentless in their quest to find the toughest challenge, the event that will push them to their limits and discover just how much they can achieve. Yet, I worry that too many aren’t considering the future enough and the toll that ultra marathon running can take – IF the time isn’t given to care for the body in between runs and if thousands of miles are built up in the space of months.

Your body is not here to be punished; it is your vessel for life – so look after it. Train hard but take the time to treat your body afterwards. Yoga can be incorporated into your training as a way of restoring and replenishing energy levels, safely and gently re-lengthening muscles and relieving compression in the spine. By joining a regular class you can learn short sequences and poses to do each day. Find the time and your body will thank you, now and especially in the future.