Stiff and weak muscles

Recent experiences and self-observations have shown me how much balance and flexibility I’m lacking. As part of my efforts to improve running mechanics, Johnny has given me specific exercises to perform daily.  While doing them, I realize that I’m unable to stand or balance well on one foot. My hip mobility and flexibility are very low. I want to improve my race performance, so it’s time to get serious about addressing those weaknesses.

For some time, I’ve fantasized about doing yoga and developing a very flexible and strong body. As I watch other men practice yoga, I’m inspired by what their bodies can do. I’ve just never found a practice that resonated with me. Whether it’s hot yoga or individual classes at various gyms, I’ve never felt “touched” by the sessions. Unaware of what type of yoga practice I was seeking, I only knew the things that I’d tried were not “it”.

Time passed, I stopped actively looking.

My body remained stiff. I stretched occasionally without direction or intention.

Little progress was made.

This year, I began stretching with purpose because I recognize that tight muscles are weak muscles and that my progress would be limited because I am tight. I also have become acutely aware that I have a weak, disengaged core because I have not taken the time to re-connect with those muscles since my prostatectomy. My focus has mostly been on regaining pelvic floor muscle tone and developing the capacity to train and race again. I viewed strength and flexibility as add-on activities rather than necessary parts of training.

Beginning my yoga practice

My recent running performance assessment failure and difficulty with basic balancing exercises have made me acutely aware of the need to address strength and flexibility. Fortunately, I found Athlete Revival Yoga, she’s a yoga instructor that focuses on routines for endurance athletes. Immediately interested, I reached out to Andrea and we had a zoom call to discuss her program and approach. She shared her experience with endurance athletes and I was hooked. She knew, without me saying it, what I was experiencing and what was deficient. We discussed a specific program and the costs for 10 sessions of 1-on-1 coaching. I thought it was reasonable and she was willing to start right away. No time like the present, right?  I also found her self-guided program, Inner Iron Yoga on sale, so I purchased that too. My plan is to learn the fundamentals from her, and use the pre-recorded sessions as practice on the days I didn’t work with her.

Yesterday we had our first live 1-on-1 session via Zoom.  She demonstrated many poses while instructing and observing me. I mentioned that I was having difficulty and becoming frustrated with the inability to follow her or do the poses. She said not to worry, this session was meant for observation so that she could see what I needed and how my body moved. The program would be tailored to what she observed today. We practiced for 1-hour and by the end, I was sweating and felt tired. My initial thoughts were both of elation and surprise. Surprised at how difficult it is to breathe while focusing on holding a pose. I held my breath a lot so she kept reminding me to exhale and focus on it. I was also surprised at how many ways I was unable to fully move my body. There are tight muscles e’rewhere. I immediately recognized the benefits of increased flexibility and decided this would be a commitment to myself.

The journey continues…