Thursday, August 2, 2012

30 Days of Yoga + My First Run in a Month

In lieu of a "What I Love Wednesdays" post this week, I wanted to tell you about something else instead: 30-Day Challenges!

Have you ever done a 30-day Challenge? If you don't know, it's essentially exactly what it sounds like -- you vow to do something (or not do something) for 30 days straight. The cool thing about it is that usually after 30 days, it becomes a habit. Thus, I think it's important to choose something that challenges you to be a better person or live a healthier lifestyle.

Let me back up a bit...

For the past month or so, I've been struggling with ITBS (Iliotibial band syndrome) in my left knee, which has pretty much kept me out of commission, running-wise. ITBS is a very common problem among runners, but that doesn't make it any less frustrating. What's so irritating is the fact that it won't show up until I get to about 1.5-2 miles, at which point it quickly escalates from a dull ache in my knee to a stabbing pain that causes me to walk back home. If I try to push myself to run through the pain, then I end up hobbling around for the rest of the day, even when just walking or shuffling through the house. If I listen to my body and stop as soon as my knee starts to hurt, then it doesn't usually bother me when I'm not actually running on it.

I knew a big factor that was playing into my ITBS was my shoes. It was time to retire my old, worn-out New Balances, so I did a lot of research and wound up buying a pair of Saucony ProGrid Ride 3s. These beauties:

I am so glad I decided to get these shoes! (By the way, I am in no way obligated to promote these shoes and am not affiliated with Saucony at all. I just love 'em.) I took them out on my inaugural run a few days ago, after not having ran at all for a little over a month. The shoes hugged my feet like pillows! They were super comfortable, and the way they're made forces you to run with great form. My ankle, that was badly sprained back in May and still gives me some trouble, didn't hurt even a tiny bit! It was awesome. My legs were a little sore and I could definitely tell it'd been a while since I'd ran last, but everything seemed to be working superbly.

But then mile 2 rolled around and my knee started acting up again. It didn't hurt nearly as bad as it had been before, so I tried to push through and make it at least another half a mile. I ended up going about 1/4 of a mile farther before I had to stop and walk the rest of the way home. I was so incredibly frustrated. I thought for sure my shoes would fix the problem.

It wasn't all bad, though. Because the shoes do such a great job of supporting my feet and making me run with fantastic form, it became very apparent very quickly that I was putting more weight on my right side than my left, and my body was a little imbalanced. I could also very easily feel that my left IT band was tighter than my right, which would obviously explain the ITBS. I read as many articles as I could over the next few days, trying to figure out how to fix this problem so I could actually run again, when it hit me. The most obvious answer to me was to do yoga. What better way to increase my flexibility and alignment than to start a consistent yoga practice?

This brings me to the 30-day Challenge idea I had. For 30 days, I am pledging to do at least 15 minutes of yoga every single day. I am choosing to make this a priority for myself so that I can get back to enjoying one of my favorite cardio options.

Is anyone else interested in joining me on this journey? There are many benefits to practicing yoga regularly! Not only does it increase your flexibility, strengthen your body, and tone your muscles (even ones you wouldn't normally use), it also helps center your energy, calm your mind, heal your body of common illnesses like colds and sinus infections, regulate your digestive tract, align your skeleton, and increase your lung capacity.

I have three really fantastic websites that offer free yoga videos, so we can do it in the comfort of our homes, without having to pay to attend classes. This is also a great option if you don't have more than 15 minutes to spare each day, seeing as there are several videos you can choose from that are only that long (there are also videos that go up to 60 and even 90 minutes in length, if you really want to challenge yourself). You can also choose sequences that target specific areas in your body, mind, or soul; yesterday's yoga for me was a Hip Opening sequence, for example.

One last note: please don't be afraid to do this if you've never tried yoga before! There are so many videos on these sites that are specifically for beginners, and you can always always always modify the poses so they're easier for you. Seriously. Anyone can do yoga. And if you don't have a mat, just do it on the carpet or rug, or lay a towel or blanket down to cushion your joints. The sites you should use are: My Yoga Online, Yoga Journal, and Yoga Yak. There are plenty of other free yoga options out there if you check out Google, but these three are a really terrific starting point.

I am so excited about this challenge! I considered actually turning it into a giveaway contest to get other people ramped up about yoga as well, but I'm not sure how to actually make it a competition, so for now, I'll just be excited and hope you are too. Let's do this!


  1. Ugh, sorry to hear about your ITBS : (. You're right, it can be pretty common, and I definitely had issues with it too a while back. You've probably already done this, but have you gone to a running store and had your gait analyzed? It sounds like you've already got yourself some pretty comfy shoes, but maybe they could recommend some insoles if you need them. Also, physical therapy and foam rolling : )

    1. ITBS is no fun. I think part of the problem stems from almost exclusively sleeping on my right side for the past few months, but that's just a theory. Thanks for the tips!! I've been reading a lot lately about foam rolling; I think I'll definitely have to get into that. I have had my gait analyzed, but it's been a while, so I wonder if anything's changed... might be worth checking out. :)

  2. I'm on board totally with the 30 day challenge! I've been doing yoga sporadically and sometimes not for 15 minutes (which isn't very long). But I'm stoked to jump into the challenge with you and see how it feels after 30 days.

    1. Awesome Dad!!! I've made it 9 days so far, and I can already feel a huge difference. :)

    2. Wow very cool!! I've only gone almost a week now but it definitely feels good. I have to remind myself each morning that I'm doing the 30 day challenge so I don't forget.

    3. Yeah, that's how I was for the first week too! Now I'm at the point where I actually notice if I haven't done my yoga for the day yet, which is what I was hoping would happen! :) How are your 30 days coming along so far??

  3. I'm with you on the 30 day challenge. I have been making a point to do yoga-related-something every day, even if it just means gentle stretching or more meditative like mindful breathing. Weekends are trickier for me sometimes, since we often have other active plans. What do you usually do on the weekend for your yoga?
    Saucony is my FAVORITE brand of running shoe. Good call. Try incorporating lateral training (to strengthen gluteus medius) in your recovery. It seems to make a major difference in alleviating/preventing ITBS.

    1. Yes!! I've been wanting to do something yoga-ish every day for a while now, and just haven't had the motivation to stick with it until now. Weekends are definitely trickier for me too, but I've found that I kind of have to lower my expectations a little. I've noticed that letting myself settle with 15 minutes of yoga or meditation first thing in the morning is the easiest way to get it done. Plus, then I feel great for the rest of the day!

      I haven't had much experience with lateral training, but now that you mention it, it absolutely makes sense. Thanks! I'll definitely add that into my recovery. As for Saucony, I honestly don't think I'll go back to any other brand. It is amazing!