Back in stride


Proof that I was actually in Spain (Segovia in this case), not at a meditation retreat in Nepal. My wife can take credit for this photograph.

This weekend I went to Susan Bowen’s vinyasa class on Saturday and Sunday. I also put in an hour on the elliptical trainer and the treadmill at the gym so I feel that I have gotten back up to speed on my yoga and conditioning after my vacation break. It may be a while before I am up to full strength because I still feel the fatigue in my shoulders from lots of planks, Four-Limbed Staff Pose (Chaturanga Dandasana), and Upward-Facing Dogs (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana). On Saturday, it was a student’s birthday so Susan made us do 40 vinyasas to honor her.

This 10-day process to get back into my exercise routine drives home a simple lesson: the mature adult’s body takes a long time to adapt to more rigorous and skilled endeavors. I started running nine months ago, but seriously only less than six months ago. I should lower my own expectations about what I can achieve, both in the short and the long term. Instead of thinking about having lost training time due to my break, I should look at the two weeks as an opportunity for my body to relax and chill out. Although I can run three miles, it does not mean that I need to do it, especially given the wear and tear on my muscles after years of inactivity. I need to incorporate ample recovery time so that I don’t stress my body too much. Hints of shin splits are a clear warning in that respect. It’s not like I’m on a training schedule for a half-marathon (or any competition, for that matter).

I think it’s been providential that I got into yoga before running. My gradual learning of yoga allowed me to ramp up the physical demands on my body gradually while enhancing my body awareness. Yoga’s emphasis on breathing gives me a value instrument for measuring exertion while jogging. I’ve been using the ChiRunning technique of Danny Dyer to give me a training method in keeping with my yoga approach. I’ve actually had to teach my legs and core how to run, and that’s included some minor pain as muscle groups have found new uses.