Yoga and running: Rountree’s sage advice

The Runner’s Guide to Yoga: A Practical Approach to Building Strength and Flexibility for Better Running

By Sage Rountree

Pub. by Velo Press, 221 pp.; $19.95

Sage Rountree understands running and yoga equally.

Stretch much?

Even five years ago, running and yoga constituted two separate worlds. The former is competitive, pounding and can tear the body down; the latter meditative, restorative and seemingly grounded in esoterica.

Now, however, yoga for runners classes are quite common. Much of the credit goes to Sage Rountree, a yogini and triathlete whose earlier book, The Athlete’s Guide to Yoga, helped popularize the discipline once restricted to seekers of inner peace.

Rountree not only showed how athletes how they could benefit from the strength, flexibility, flow and focus of yoga, but also how they should integrate it into their training.

Rountree has fused the two worlds together for some time. Now a columnist with Runner’s World, she is a certified running and triathlon coach and a registered yoga teacher. Her writing has appeared in Yoga Journal and Endurance Magazine, among other places.

Rountree’s newest book, The Runner’s Guide to Yoga, is more specific still. As its title implies, this time around the author concentrates on creating a series of yoga programs designed to help give runners maximum strength and flexibility.

But the book is more than just a series of poses. Rountree runs herself, remember? So she’s attuned to the particular requirements runners might need in a program.

It’s this unique perspective that Rountree brings that makes her book so invaluable. She doesn’t just mindlessly prescribe yoga on top of a running regime, but advises how to integrate the two so that burn-out doesn’t occur. Rountree is aware that yoga doesn’t always mean relaxation, but can often constitute a workout in and of itself.

Beyond the poses – the bulk of the book – The Runner’s Guide to Yoga is full of practical advice: how to choose a class and what style of yoga; what to look for in a teacher; and full routines to provide a warm-up and cool-down to your runs.

Of course, the poses are – no pun intended – at the core of the book. Rountree provides poses for strength, flexibility and exercises to help increase focus.

Each pose is comes with an explanation as to why it’s done, how it should be done and with variations. Clear photos help guide you into the proper stance. A book will never substitute for a class with an experienced teacher to help correct your posture, but this is the next best thing.

In one brief section titled On the Run, Rountree presents an accurate description of what to look for in good running form. That brief passage alone is worth the price of the book; but beyond that, The Runner’s Guide to Yoga is by far and away the best book around on how and why runners should add yoga to their discipline so that they can enjoy the strength and focus – not to mention the freedom from injuries – that yoga will bring to their athleticism.

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About subthree

A multiple award-winning journalist, I'm currently a contributing editor with both Canadian Running and Canadian Cycling magazines. My articles have appeared in Explore, Canadian Geographic, enRoute, The National Post, The Globe and Mail, and many other magazines and newspapers. Formerly a competitive cross-country mountain biker, I switched to running in 2006. I've run seven marathons, qualifying for Boston five times (and which I've run once). Generally, I've placed or won in my age group in races, in distances ranging from five and 10 kms to half and full marathons. I've also taught spin classes at a number of leading Eastern Canadian gyms. Sub-three was a 2012 #Runchat finalist for Best Overall Blog.
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