On Sunday the 5th October I took part in my first Half Marathon. I ran a time of 1:28:13 which I was delighted with. Funnily enough it’s virtually the same time as a 90 minute Bikram Yoga class. This blog illustrates how the techniques learned in the hot room were usefully applied to my Half Marathon race.
When participating in a Bikram class, many demands are placed upon you. The toughest thing to achieve but the easiest thing to imagine, is the art of controlled breathing. Breathing quickly induces “fight or flight mode”, increasing your heart rate, making you breathless quicker and making you feel more stressed sometimes even panicky. Gasping for breath is not a place you want to be in a Half Marathon or a Bikram class. The opposite applies also, calming your breathing calms your nervous system stimulating feel good endorphins like dopamine and serotonin. My Bikram practice dramatically improved when I learned to slow down my breathing. You can try it yourself; exhale slowly as you begin to go into a posture, or to go deeper, inhaling as you come out. Without applying this breathing technique my rhythm would have been disjointed and my run even tougher.
The yoga complimented my running practice and the Bikram complimented my running practice. You go through the same thoughts, the same doubts, the same thresholds, the same barriers to break down. Bikram yoga assaults your capabilities from multiple angles; flexibility, strength, balance, endurance, focus and attacks every single muscle in your body. Running you have less to worry about but when you apply the discipline learned from the hot room and execute the barrier breaking never say die attitude, you can only succeed. Bikram has taught me the ONLY way to overcome a period of pain is run even harder, stretch even further. Before you know it, the fatigue has passed and the focus returns. Bikram provides you with many little victories and it’s these little victories which combine giving you a sharpened mental edge. This mental edge gifted me the ability to literally shut off pain during the run.
My energy has deserted me in the final two miles. The crowd couldn’t help, my music didn’t help and I was so disorientated I looked at my stopwatch and my brain wouldn’t read what time I was running. You know you’re in a bad state of affairs when your brain can’t compute a bloody stop watch! I only discovered my time when I crossed the finish line. What got me though those final two miles was saying to myself over and over the same thing I say in class, ‘don’t give up, and don’t give in’.
I didn’t give up or give in, I finished the race in style by being physically sick just after the finish line. Apologies to the small children at the sidelines who had to make a swift exit!
Bikram yoga gave me the strength, confidence and determination required to achieve this. This strength, confidence and determination you will apply to anything you chose.
Find your limit, smile, and go beyond it…..