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There is more than one way to improve your running and its not always about mileage. Sometimes a different approach and varying your training will actually show great benefits to your running performance, yoga for example is a great variance to training.

Everyone knows that flexibility is important and you may feel left out when all your running club team mates can touch their toes. But the best thing about winter or when its just too hot to run is its a great chance to try something different and see if that can help. At certain times of the year the amount of miles you can do will dip because of the weather or maybe you are coming back from an injury and cant complete as many as you had done previously. Yoga can be a critical part of recovery or a get healthy program as it has huge potential.

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Yoga has the potential to improve many aspects of your training including improving strength in the whole body, flexibility which is essential for recovery and avoiding injuries, but it also helps to improve focus.

Being a runner involves a lot of determination and persistence and mastering yoga can help to improve these traits. With so many benefits its surprising to see that up to 70% of runners in a survey at Runners World said they didn't take part in yoga or any form of flexibility training. And this is quite significant because many world class athletes have actually stated that they take part in yoga such as Lauren Fleshman who is a two time national 5000m outdoor champion claiming she used yoga to overcome an injury.

There are many studies that investigate the affect of yoga and core strength training methods on running performance. In particular, a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research in 2009 found that in a group of runners aged 25-45 their 5000m running time was faster after 6 weeks of yoga based training. They concluded that core strength training methods would significantly benefit performance in runners. As well as physical benefits yoga studies have shown that this type of regular exercise decreases stress, aids in weight loss, relieves pain and actually improves adherence to an exercise routine which in turn will improve running times.

I have briefly mentioned the mental benefits of taking part in yoga and this really is a great advantage. If your looking to compete or challenge yourself in an upcoming race most of what it takes to be successful is in the mind. Yoga builds up a great level of tenacity mainly because you have to apply yourself fully to master the technique's used in classes.

Many athletes have said they use yoga to help control their emotions particularly when struggling at a tough point in a race.

This is because when completing a yoga stance there will be periods where you have to fight the natural urge to give up on the balance and start again, the same happens during a race. But in yoga you learn to control with breathing and patience to accept the situation and find a way to work through the pain and this can be applied to running easily. There are lots of pitfalls that can happen if you decide to start yoga but hopefully some of the information will help you decide how to start and continue onto a yoga filled training program.

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