Vickie wrote about runners who can't run any more & how we can fall apart when that happens. It's a well written description, which she's gathered by observing bloggers going through this process. I also very much enjoyed the comments.
I also had a conversation Saturday with Niece Kate, the runner from Indy. She is running the Chicago marathon this weekend. It's her 2nd marathon. She'll be 44 in December. Her running friends have stopped running, because of injury or family issues. One has gained weight and is disappointed in herself. One will walk for 10 minutes and run for 5, but she's not putting in the miles like she used to. The sense I got about all of them is exactly what Vickie described--they can't run, so they aren't doing much of anything else.
Ok, so onto the running/yoga thing.
Saturday I took a 95 minutes hot yoga class from a guest instructor from Israel, Gabriel Azoulay. Here's his webpage.
I've not taken 100s of yoga classes, but I've taken enough to know when I'm in the hands of a master. He was brilliant. I pushed myself farther than I ever have before. I was holding and getting deeper into poses I never thought was possible for me. It was incredible. I feel blessed that I lucked into this class (although, I don't think luck had anything to do with it).
I am still sore. He worked every muscle in my body. If I had the money & time, I swear I'd follow him all over the country, like a yoga groupie.
I had mentioned in my comment on Vickie's post how I can't get a runner's high from any other activity, with the possible exception of a 90 minute hot yoga class. I have started taking yoga again at my gym (they put in a new studio this spring) but the classes I've gone to are 60-75 minutes. I haven't taken a 90 minute class in well over a year. I haven't gotten a runner's high from these shorter classes.
Saturday morning I got up at 7:30 and decided on the spur of the moment to take the 8 am class. I had no idea we'd have a guest instructor. I just knew it was 90 minutes of hot yoga, and I wanted to test out my hypothesis that I could get a runner's high from yoga.
The answer? Yes. Yes, I did.
There's something about 90 minutes that is key. I can get there in 60 minutes of running, but I get a better "high" the longer I run. Which is why I got into long distance running in the first place.
I started running to lose weight. I kept running because of that high.
I've said before, 3 miles is my least favorite distance to run (and why I don't run 5k races). All the work with none of the payoff (runner's high wise). Put me out there for 5+ miles, and I often no longer even feel my body. I just run, the endorphins do their job, and my mind is completely abuzz with tranquility.I think what happens during the hot yoga classes is similar to what happens with long distance running, from an endorphins standpoint. But it's also very different.
Many people hate running. Many RUNNERS hate running. I've read comments by runners who say they love running after they're finished with a run. The during? Sometimes not so much.
On the mat in a class, working as intensely as I did Saturday, I can think of nothing but my body. The world is shut out. I have to concentrate on the pose. But I also am learning to just let go and NOT concentrate on the pose. Does that make any sense? Surrender, I guess, is the word.
I surrender during a long distance run, too.
My body is so wrung out, so completely spent, that my mind goes with it.
Gabriel made a profound statement during class. He said "yoga is the only exercise that gives energy back to you." I found this fascinating, and quite astute.
When I run long distance, I usually feel revitalized when I'm finished, but more often than not I'm also worn out physically and need an equal amount of rest afterwards.
Saturday after class, I had this immense sense of peace and ramped-up energy. I do think I was also going through a slightly manic state that day--which can happen to me from hormone cycles, or whatever else is going on in my crazy brain. And that may have enhanced my reaction to the class. But, regardless, I haven't felt anything like it in a long time. Probably not since the last fabulous long run I had in January.
The weight I've lost and the classes I've taken in the past month have strengthened me and helped me make it through the entire class Saturday. I'm so thankful I was prepared for it, physically.