Runners: Strike a Warrior Pose

Remember the dance craze unleashed by Madonna back in the mid-90s called Vogueing?

The mantra went, "strike a pose" while the dancers twisted themselves into statuesque poses, some quite contorted and elegant. Their bodies were lithe and supple, flexible as rubber bands.

Posing is not just for dancers anymore, and if you're a runner, listen up. Striking a Warrior pose could be just the ticket for taking your running game to new limits.

The Runner's Toolbox

Serious runners know about the training toolbox, which contains the tools necessary for success: aerobic capacity (breath), strength (muscles, especially the legs), and flexibility (whole body). And the glue that holds the process together: the mind (attitude). Most athletes instinctively recognize the importance of developing both lung capacity and strength to carry them through those long-distance runs.

Flexibility, however, is often the ugly step-child of the process. Sure, we all take a moment or two to stretch the hamstrings and calves during our brief warm-up sessions, but what we really want to do is rev up the engine and hit the road. So we're often not as flexible as we could be in order to avoid injury, especially as we grow older.

I Am the Warrior

Think of a rubber band. Loose and supple, stretches easily (within limits, of course), and quickly bounces back to its original shape. Now imagine that same rubber band after a few years of disuse on a cold winter day. A couple of tugs and what happens: it snaps, brittle and broken, beyond repair. You don't want that happening to you.

Yoga is a key to staving off the negative effects of aging on athletic performance. Through asanas (or postures) runners can improve flexibility, and as a result, sharpen the tools in their runner's toolbox.

An excellent pose for the runner looking to improve his or her performance is called The Warrior, or Virabhadra. What makes this pose a natural fit for runners is that it naturally increases lung capacity, which helps you to breathe more efficiently. Next, the legs are strengthened and toned as you increase your ability to hold this pose for a longer period of time. Finally, it works the abdominal muscles so that back pain can be reduced or virtually eliminated.

Loosen Up

The Warrior pose improves the triangle of training: breath, strength, and flexibility. Strike this pose, as the song goes, either before or after your workout sessions, and you will quickly discover that the warrior within you is raising your athletic performance to a whole new level.

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