Two words the cause me to break out in hives when used in the same sentence are "winter" and "crosstraining." The former conjures up bad memories of cancelled birthday parties from being a January baby and the latter just isn't as appealing as pounding pavement. But regardless of my dread, I can neither stop winter from coming (unless anyone knows a Heat Miser who needs some business...) nor deny the positive benefits of crosstraining. So what do I do when I can't log the miles in the chilly months? Yoga!
While I do not see myself as a yogi, I have accepted that this traditional practice really enhances my running and is the perfect exercise during winter. Between sitting inside more due to the limited amount of daylight and the cold weather tightening my muscles with a vengeance, my body just isn't in its peak shape. Adding in the stretching and strength work awakens tired and tense limbs making the days when I can hit the roads way better.
While yoga provides me with a number of physical benefits, the mental component of the exercises is just as important. As someone who gets more irritable from the lack of sunshine and fresh air, a meditative practice that allows me to redirect my negative emotions toward something productive generally leaves me feeling more optimistic about life. I become less embittered about winter opening the way to actually enjoying the beauty that accompanies the season.
As someone who a year ago adamantly refused to partake in the practice, I've since become a willing yoga participant to the point that a significant number of my workouts conclude with some key poses. If you're not sure where to look for sequences, start with the Runner's World Yoga Center. The routines are really easy to follow with special attention to the muscles most used in running. If you are someone who gets more out of social exercise, consider signing up for a class. Many studios will give you a free trial session. Going to a class can also be really beneficial in the winter, since it encourages you to abandon the warm covers for something that you will be thankful for later.
Haven't given yoga a try as a crosstraining method? Consider broadening your horizons! Worse comes to worst, you only used up one of many cold winter days. On the other hand, you may have just found your new go-to for the days when running isn't on the agenda!