Ironman Lake Placid Training: I bend so I don’t break

yoga for triathlon

I have re-emerged from an 8 day pause in my yoga practice. I told you on day one of training that even when training gets challening that “I’m committed to incorporating at least 3 hours of yoga into my training plan each week, even if that means I miss a few miles of a run from time to time just to squeeze it in. Yoga is an essential part of my training plan and perhaps just as important as swim, bike and run.” It takes time, patience and trying out a variety of yoga classes in order to get to the root of how yoga works. It isn’t a practice that just clicks the first or second time you try it. I am a swim-bike-run-cardio junkie just like many of you, and at one time I also said “yoga is not for me.” I get it and understand when I hear this from so many athletes. Fortunately, I see more and more athletes choosing to incorporate yoga into triathlon training. Yoga is not easy. It is a challenge. I am a yoga instructor and know better than to miss an entire week of yoga although I am better and worse for having taken this unintentional break from yoga. You have likely heard that yoga increases flexibility, develops core strength, range of motion, injury prevention, reduces recovery time, improved breathing, balance, stability, body awareness, alignment, relaxes the body, relieves stress and develops mental focus and strength. A consistent yoga practice helps one learn that no matter how challenging things may be, you can get through almost anything.

The last two weeks of training really challenged me and they’ve been more intense than the others. Physically and mentally. Taking a look back I actually think one reason I struggled and carried a less than positive attitude for three days last week was due to not showing up on my mat. I can train, and train ,and train although if I do not take time to take care of my body and mind it is difficult to progress in training. I went to bed a little sore last night, on my belly in half frog pose. I woke up more sore than normal which makes complete sense without yoga. I considered taking a rest day today although hesitant since I will likely miss 3 days of training this weekend. Yoga was the answer. I felt so much throughout my body in just the first yoga pose in class. It felt so good I did not want to leave this pose. I have always enjoyed Cicilee’s class although today was extraordinary. It felt as though class was designed for me today, targeting every single area I needed. I felt tight in areas I am never tight and felt a huge release throughout much of the practice. I became aware of sensations throughout my body that I was not aware until getting back on the mat. Just taking child’s pose at times felt amazing. I reset my mind, brought awareness back to my intentions, set new goals and pretty much was able to begin again. I can not imagine getting through triathlon training without my yoga practice. If my body felt the way it felt this morning more often, it would set me back. I am also thankful that my practice contributes to keeping me injury free so far.

So yes, I missed 8 (maybe 9) days of meeting myself on my mat in exchange for training in respect to swim, bike and run but this pause in my yoga practice has played as a reminder of just how significant this fourth discipline of yoga is to training for Ironman. I am relieved I am no longer sore now by this afternoon and look forward to my swim this evening. I feel happy and excited about training again. My yoga practice is not only a practice of taking care of my body but also a practice of physical and mental strength that will be crucial to every week of these last 15 weeks leading up to the 140.6 miles I will travel on July 26 at Ironman Lake Placid and these next 25 weeks leading to Ironman Maryland. Triathlon training is a constant effort but it is easier and I enjoy it more when it is swim, bike, run, yoga. I bend so I don’t break.

Is yoga part of your training?  How often do you practice and what style of yoga do you enjoy most?

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