Haydn & my Best Running Doula (to date)

Aisslinn Nosky and the Handel and Haydn Society performed this weekend and I was overwhelmed!

IMG_7371I took a quick demographic survey of the audience and clearly, classical music performances are not most of my peers idea of a good time; I think they’re missing out.  This ensemble is brilliant! I saw the group perform for a holiday concert in December and the concertmaster of that performance, Susanna Ogata won my heart.  She is a spirited and involved musician. Apart from the mastery, technique and precise interpretation of the orchestra, what I loved most about watching her play, was that I was watching her with the rest of the orchestra celebrate a love affair.

So, I came back for more this month only to have a new beau. The principal bass player models this same finesse.  Anthony Manzo expressively sang his solo and smartly  complimented the melodious refrain for the violins. The performance of the overture to Lo Speziale<–listen! made me dance in my seat.  What exactitude! Moreover, what joy!  When Nosky lead the Violin Concerto in C Major, Hob. vila:1, I wanted to be invited to the party.  Her leadership, her smiles, the pensive glances between her and Ogata made me want in on the party.  There were smiles, furrowed eyebrows of intense concentration, and more smiles.  There was intensity.  At times there were supportive roles, a bystander approach and other times center stage with fireworks.

Watching this group perform was a great honor.  Hearing them play a gift, but watch the dialogue, the interaction and the commitment of each musician to the totality of this theater of performance won my heart.  They had fun playing and also terrific respect for their leaders. How could you not, Nosky has loud  hair and a punk fashion sense.  Take that #cashmereandpearls! (read Carol Christ’s response to the movement)  There was bow waiving and feet stamping and gratitude in the faces of the performers.  Appreciation for their hours of practice and their mutual commitment to such exactitude.

And of course, it was me watching them perform and so I thought of birth.  (you knew that was coming, right?!)  But I also thought of training.

Another recent night, someone offered to run part of an upcoming marathon with me to keep me company.  If you know me, you know this is exactly what I don’t want. My husband tried to “run me in” my first marathon and I just wanted to trip him for having the energy at mile 23 that I did not have.  I didn’t trip him and I tried to remain gracious but really, I wanted to be in my own space.  My husband did run our friend in the last miles of her marathon and she loved it. She said she couldn’t do it without knowing someone had her back until the end.

To that end, we’re all different, we all need different things.  When I trained for my first half-marathon, my friend and I did it together. Together, remotely.  She was in Wisconsin and I was in Massachusetts.  We checked in during training and then took off from the start together 8-weeks later.  Two years later, when we trained for our first marathon, Millie ran one in WI and I did one around the same time at home.  She is an awesome training partner.  I had another running friend, who we’ll call Katie (because that’s her name). She was my rock. We actually did our long runs together on the same morning, in the same city.  We were training for different races but we supported each other, pushed each other further and laughed. We really laughed!  Even when I didn’t think we could do another mile, it was so easy for Katie to talk me into it. She never pushed the pace, she never let me overtake her.  We were truly always in stride on the asphalt.  We talked or didn’t talk. I said I need a break. We took a break. I said let’s push the pace. We did. We said, let’s do a tempo run on Tuesday and we did.  We added hills to our route and we roared at the top. #xcHabitsDieHard

I love my husband and I realize he had the best intentions of supporting me during that run.  He wanted the best race experience for me.  But, what would have helped him in a race, did not help me.  He’s my best friend and I don’t hold this against him. He did his best and I was doing mine. What I really needed, was a doula for that race.  I needed Katie to just show up and be there and not explicitly ask anything of me. Its AN ART to be present in intense silent, pacing, inter-conversation.  As a support person, (an orchestra to the soloist), (or a training buddy), there’s respect, support, moving toward and backing away.  We do that during parts of a marathon course and we do that during a labor and the first days of motherhood.

In Sum, support the H+H Society (tickets are cheap!). Find a doula you like.  Find a running buddy, remotely or nearby.  And then express yo’ self!

This post is for Millie, Hans, Annalee, Katie and all the new Moms and Dads, especially those who have adopted recently (go Kristin! Yah Smithies!), and in memory of Mr. Hofreiter (best conductor ever) who gave me confidence and Nneka who inspires still.  

Love and Peace, Yogis.

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The Yoga Antedote for Running, Cycling & Plain Ol’ Livin’

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A few weeks ago, I visited a good friend and body-worker. I first began visiting her office several years ago when a hamstring injury that just wouldn’t go away needed attention. We worked through that problem and now I see her regularly for maintenance and care.

During this recent session, we were talking about the bike ride I had just completed 150+ miles in two days(MS Cape Cod Getaway! I highly recommend doing an event for charity!)  and her triathlon training.

Wellfleet

I should mention, that my hamstring injury, while not running related  (definitely Yoga, primary series related) affected my running. During training for my most recent marathon, which was a disaster (epic fail), my calve muscle began seizing after long runs. I would wake up in the morning unable to get my heel to the ground.   I bought compression socks, I ate more electrolytes and bananas and greens.  During the marathon, I tied my shoe laces WAY too tightly and coupled with the already angry lower leg, walking became unbearable.

So, back to the present. A few years later, I’m still working on figuring out how exactly to keep my legs happy after lots of forward folding and use running or in yoga.   While exploring this simply fascinating topic, of course, I’ve learned other things about my left leg and namely my adductors. A chiropractor suggested that lymphatic fluid buildup in this area may trigger that party going on in my leg.   So the body-worker whose table I was laying on as we were discussing cycling and training, suggested I do legs up the wall after running.

As it so happens, around Boston marathon time, my husband complained about a sore back and hamstring soreness and the FIRST thing I told him to do, was to put his legs up the wall.  This man doesn’t stretch but I figured, even if he doesn’t stretch, he could listen to a  baseball game with his legs up the wall doing nothing and do some good for his body. IMG_4501

So the one-trillion dollar question is -Do I put my legs up the wall after a run? I prescribe it!  Friends talk about it! Mmmmm…So, why did it take me so long to practice what I preach?

During my MS bike ride where I rode 115 miles, I put my legs up the wall for a good 30 minutes and on the second day of cycling 75 miles, I had no problems. Day later? week later? no soreness.

So now as I write this post I’m lying on my back after 7 mile run with my legs up the wall. So why is this Viparita Karani or legs up the wall such a magical pose?  As part of any first aid training, problem?  RICE! Elevate and ice and so on.  After pounding the pavement incessantly? Repetitive motion of hips, quads, calves, knees?  It would make sense that to reinstate R&R we should elevate them. I’m no medical practitioner and I won’t suggest that when we go upside down into an inversion, our circulation goes upside down; At least I would hope not:  I always want blood flowing to my heart, but it makes sense for other lymphatic fluids to move away from a raised area.

I often suggest legs up the wall for my prenatal students when they suffer from swelling feet or ankles.  I suggest legs up the wall for students who were ever troubling trouble with adrenals. Legs of the wall seems like it’s your cure-all.  Hooray! I fixed everything! It’s a pretty accessible pose. I did it camping,  between rides and at home.  The hardest part is nudging your butt against the wall to get your legs up in the first place.  Besides that – piece of cake! Like I said before, you can listen to the baseball game read a book or record a blog entry. Easy Peezy! #PracticeWhatYouPreach #YogaEveryday

 

 

My Running Story: the marriage of stretch & sprint

Many of you know my yoga story.  This is my running story.

In high school, I remember hyperventilating at every indoor track meet. Could I win? probably not. But if I worked hard enough, I probably could earn points for my team.  Would I earn enough points? I was scared to fail. And it felt terrible to come in 2nd or 3rd each time. I never won.  And, my high school’s track was in the center of the gymnasium.  If you watched the swim meet, the viewing deck opened out onto the track.  Watching wrestling, fencing or squash?  Just turn around and see us running. It seemed the 400, my better race, sometimes had a big crowd. But the 50m dash ALWAYS happened during the other sports’ halftime.

During the spring season, I could figure out how to use the blocks to my advantage. They slowed me down. But I still had to use them.  I pulled my groin once pushing off too hard. I remember I loved track workouts but the meets were dreadful.   I despised being the last one in during cross country but loved that out of body experiences where it felt as though my skin was trying to keep up. My mind was trying to keep up with legs that kept propelling me forward.  I remember the NCISWAA (or whatever) champions of the year trophy. I remember being written about with the star Ashley Brennan as a freshman phenom.  The reporters were just being nice about me.

I loved running. But in the evenings, after study hall and before going to bed, I would flip out and try yoga poses from a book I bought. It was an Iyengar book. Then I got an Astanga book without knowing the two traditions had a history.  My favorite pose was karnapidasana and janusirsasana. I loved hamstring stretches and eventually pulled my hamstrings only I didn’t know it.

I got injured running. I got injured stretching. But I never stopped doing either.

In college, I did sit ups over what I would now, in my new life, call a birthing ball.  The house thought I was athletic but because I’d never won anything, I didn’t believe them.  Housemates told me I should join the XC team. I thought I was too slow despite training 3x week with a winning team member.  One fall, I witnessed my only collegiate track meet in Ainsworth Gymnasium. And stayed away. I still did yoga in my room.

On most weekends after college I would drive up Rt. 2 to watch my sister and her team compete in field hockey. I would run the back roads in the happy valley and then sit in the car for 2 hours. If I missed my run, I would jog through Williamstown and into NY (that happened just once -thank goodness). At the old age of 25, I took home a trophy with my own name on it.  I’d only ever received a medal for placing.

I moved to Boston and a friend in Law School suggested that the only way we’d see each other now that she lived in Wisconsin was if we trained for a race and then saw our other friend in California. I ran 9 miles a few times and then ran my first ½ marathon with an awful hamstring injury and couldn’t walk for a week.

The following year, I enrolled in yoga teacher training and ran the Boston Marathon.

People who I run with don’t understand the allure of yoga: “slow and just stretching=boring.”The yogis “’ think running is unhealthy for the body. Too much stress. Cant’ be good for you”  Both ignore science that confirms stressing the body in long holds makes you more flexible. Stressing the body through strength work makes you stronger. Probably applies to breathing and VO2 max- something runners and yogis care alot about.

I’ve been injured running (1998 groin so bad I slid down the stairs in my dormitory, unable to hold myself up). I’ve been injured practicing yoga (hamstring attachment strain in 2007 that still haunts me). And still, both ways of being are essential to my knowledge of self.

I consider living in an average body. Apart from my chocolate addition, I take care of it, but I’m not a contortionist nor am I a world record holder. Sometimes my flexibility in yoga is curbed by a PR on the road. But, my flexibility has gotten me into trouble. Other times, when running, focused on breathing, I’ve gotten from mile 5 to 18 without knowing how because I’ve just been with myself and only myself for hours. Runners would call that being in the zone, yogis call being present. It is not autopilot, It is clarity that cannot be anticipated or forced.

For me, Running and Yoga augment one to the other. They are similar in that reflection is always relative to your personal best or what your body did last time. Sometimes tempo runs are on the agenda and sometimes holding back to maintain a steady cadence is key.

 

Last Call- Yoga for Runners 4/6 1-3pm

 

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After the 2009 Boston Marathon

Come join me as part of your marathon taper plan.  We’ll stretch the hips, IT band, strengthen the feet and core and get you balanced for your next run whether it is the Boston Marathon or a run to catch the T! Runners’ Yoga Clinic, Sunday 4/6 at O2 Yoga Cambridge 2001 Mass Ave btwn Central and Harvard. Sunday parking is easy. T accessible!

Register under the workshop tab @ o2yoga.com

Yoga for Runners: a student’s review

Little Miss Runshine, Devon, Denise

My friend Jessica, came to my yoga class for the first time last week.  Jessica has her own blog, Little Miss Runshine.  Yup, she’s a runner and we met in running club. She gets around the city cross training, a practice she’d dedicated too since an injury and yoga <<hint, hint>> is part of how she keeps her running in check!  I’ve been talking up my yoga for runner’s class and while she couldn’t make it (you totally should…$40 massage when you do this month @ The Breathing Room), she came to a class I taught at O2 in which I focused on hips, hamstrings and IT stuffs.

This is what she has to say about me:  “As an instructor, Devon is very attentive and comes over to help align you properly and give modifications if need be.  She also isn’t too serious and she makes you laugh throughout the class.  I don’t really take myself too seriously so appreciate an instructor who can throw in some humor.  It was actually interesting that at least half of the class was men-I’m used to the class being predominately women!

Here’s her second review.  Great photos of fun poses!  And the second one, too! She shows, galavasana, bird of paradise, forearm stand and more in her latest commentary.

She showed up again for two more classes this week.  It’s great to get support!  And, in case you forgot,…Tomorrow is Yoga for Runner’s @ The Breathing Room 7pm!! 

Happy New Year

I’ve had  a wonderful first week of 2013 and hope you, too, are getting your yoga on and maintaining a happy and healthful disposition.  Quickly, here are some additions for the new year.:

  • Yoga for Runners & Cyclists @ The Breathing Room 7pm Tuesdays register here
  • Yoga for Runners still @ The Cambridge Y still 6pm Fridays
  • Prenatal Yoga @ O2 Cambridge moved to 5:45 on Wednesdays
  • Pre & Post Natal @ Be in Union through February 12pm. Bring the bebe until crawling!

All other classes as usual for January:

O2 Som O2 Cam Breath Rm Gallery 263 Be. Cam Y
Mon 8:30, 12pm Mon 6pm
Tues 7pm YFR
Wed 5:45- Prenatal Wed 7:15pm
Thurs 6pm, 7:45
Fri 12-Pre/post natal Fri 6pm YFR
Sat 12pm
Sun 10:30am