Wednesday, January 25, 2012

12 Tools for Your Triathlon Toolbox - #4 Yoga Mat

Have you seen it?  It’s blue.  It’s made of rubber.  It has the name “Andy Moose” written on it with a Sharpie (***don’t ask***).  It has a bit of a funky odor.  It’s my Yoga mat!  It is a very special tool in my triathlon toolbox! 


I use it just about every day for
·        stretching,
·        core strength,
·        swimming,
·        meditation,
·        cycling,
·        and finally, Yoga!

Stretching – I’m doing a lot more stretching these days.  It might be due to the fact that I turned 40 last year.  I don’t know.  All I know is that I try to stretch my muscles in ways that are opposite of the motion that is normally done in swimming, biking and running.  I just want to make sure those muscles don’t get neglected and come back to punish me!

Core Strength – For those of you know me, train with me, are coached by me, read my blog, you all know how I feel about having strong core muscles.  When athletes (and non-athletes) have strong core muscles, all things are possible!  You will go longer, faster and avoid injury!

Swimming – Ah, how I love to bring my Yoga mat to the pool to do my core strength in between swim sets.  The stares.  The snickers.  The whispering.  I just laugh as I drip a on my mat and do my 2 minute plank on the deck.  It’s blissful!

Meditation – This is a bit new to me, but I’ve began to get serious about meditation.  It is very easy for me to get caught up in my daily activities and forget to breathe deeply.  Taking time to meditate each day has helped me be centered and focused.  My Yoga mat provides the extra cushion I need to sit down and not think about the hardwood under my booty.

Cycling – I’ve made it a habit to set up my Yoga mat next to my bike trainer.   Just like with my occasional core strength between swim sets, I enjoy combining core strength sets between cycling intervals.

Tim Crowley, founder and owner of TC2-Training and Coaching who currently coaches several Elite and Ironman Athletes, including 2008 Olympian and two time World Champion Jarrod Shoemaker, US National Team members Alicia Kaye and Steve Sexton, as well as ITU athletes from the US, Egypt and Canada, recommends “enhanced indoor intervals to develop strength in the context of bike workouts”.  He provides an alternative of slow spinning as recovery with jumping off the bike and doing one leg set, one core set and one upper body set.  (Source: Triathlete, December 2011, Page 66).  Tim: I love it!  You get an A+ in my book!  <wink>

Yoga – After a good friend of mine completed her Yoga Teacher Training Certification last year, she convinced me of the many benefits Yoga provides athletes.  Yes.  It is difficult to fit it in my already busy schedule.  Yes.  It costs a bit extra money that I could be using to pay for race registrations.  Yes!  It is worth the time and money!  Not only is Yoga an excellent way to stretch and recover, it encourages strength and balance.  My blue, smelly Yoga mat that once belonged to Andy Moose travels with me to class!    

If you don’t already have one or two (might be nice to keep one in the trunk of your car in case an impromptu Yoga session breaks out during lunch), go to your favorite store,  pick up a Yoga mat and add it to your triathlon toolbox!

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