Racing Wisely: Why This One?

August 18, 2014 – 2:47 pm | Permalink | Coaching, Race Reports, Training and Racing

The biggest question in choosing a race is why. In this excerpt from Racing Wisely, we explore the big reasons.

RW thumbAs you commit to your race, take a few minutes to jot down or type up some notes about why you chose this race. They can be broad (“I’ve wanted to run a marathon ever since I heard Jen describe her experience, and the training will give focus to my summer”) or specific (“Running in Yellowstone is a way to honor my father, who served as a park ranger there for two decades”). You can revisit these notes when you need an extra lift in training, and they will help you focus on the really big picture as the race draws near.

Pay close attention to these reasons. If you find that they’re originating from a training partner’s enthusiasm, or from your own preconceived ideas of how an athlete’s progression in the sport should go, reflect a while longer. When you are very clear on what drives you to race and make choices aligned with your personal motivations, you’ll have a much better chance of being intrinsically motivated to succeed. When your motivation comes from you alone, not from others and not from some projection of what, how, and where you think you should race, you’re setting yourself up for a personal best.

Take a look at the very, very big picture. You aren’t winning prize money to feed your family, you aren’t setting world records—so why race? How does it help people and contribute to society? What do you learn about yourself and your perceived limits that you could then turn into a positive force for change in the world? Ultimately, it’s not about the race. It’s about what you learn about yourself.

To that end, keep the very big picture in mind if you find yourself always reaching for more and more extreme goals. It is easy to get obsessive and self-centered in sport (heck, it’s easy to get obsessive and self-centered in Western culture!) and to lose sight of the noblest reasons to train and race. At some point, what can be an activity with wonderful benefits for your health can begin to adversely affect you, both physically and mentally.

The culture of competition in endurance sports can overshadow these big reasons. When you are regularly racing against familiar competition in your age group, it’s easy to get caught up in a numbers game. Who’s best this year? This race? Worse, there can be a temptation to race in group workouts, which is a great way to ensure you don’t bring your best on race day. If you find yourself consistently underperforming, perpetually frustrated, or hating your sport, remember the big, big picture. If your original goals are to test yourself, be healthy, and do something exciting, perhaps you’d serve humanity better volunteering in park services, at a fire department, or as a member of a backcountry rescue team. That kind of work benefits humanity while meeting the goals of learning your limits in the great outdoors.

To guide yourself as you make decisions that affect your race, you’ll need to be very clear on two things: your intention and your goals. These are not the same thing. Intention is about input: what attitude will you bring to the race? Goals are about output: your time, or your place in the field. Intention is a quality, and can’t be measured; goals are a quantity, and can. Your reflections as you choose your target race will help you start to define both intention and goals.

Read more in Racing Wisely.

Quick Poll: 500-Hour Intensive Option

August 15, 2014 – 12:14 pm | Permalink | Teaching, Yoga
Sage, Mira Shani, and Lies Sapp

Sage, Mira Shani, and Lies Sapp

Yoga teachers: after loving the summer intensive version of our Carolina Yoga 200-hour yoga teacher training, we’re considering adding an intensive version of our advanced studies training (what the Yoga Alliance used to call the 500-hour level, and what is now known as the 300-hour). In this format, you’d be able to complete the bulk of the required hours with me and Mira Shani over the course of four weeks in lovely Carrboro, North Carolina.

Several of our currently enrolled advanced studies students come from out of town; all of them first connected through my Teaching Yoga to Athletes module (a part of the advanced studies program). We’d love to serve them and any teacher interested in furthering his or her studies of the art and practice of teaching and the glorious system of yoga, and a monthlong intensive may be a very appealing option.

If you would find an intensive appealing, please chime in via the comments section below, or on Facebook (/sagerountree) or Twitter (@sagetree). And if you are interested in learning from wherever you are, anytime, please consider these wonderful online courses, all part of our advanced studies curriculum:

Watch: Yoga for Athletes Teachers’ Lounge: Gentle and Restorative

August 14, 2014 – 9:35 am | Permalink | Media, Recovery, Teaching, Yoga

Ahhh, restorative yoga! The sweetest style of yoga, appropriate for virtually anyone. The less you feel like you have time for a restorative practice, the more you need it! The idea of writing The Athlete’s Guide to Recovery came to me while I was in a restorative yoga class. Who knows what wonderful things will happen when you follow along with this luxurious practice, new at YogaVibes?


Yoga Class Description

In this class for athletes, teachers, and everyone, we explore gentle movement and restorative poses to find the appropriate balance between work and rest. Whether you are a vinyasa teacher wondering how to lead a gentle practice, or in need of personal relaxation and restoration, you’ll finish this sequence feeling calm, centered, and clear. Have props handy: a pillow or two, an eye pillow or face mask, blocks, bolster, and a blanket. (76 mins.)

Suggested Yoga Props

pillow, eye pillow or face mask, blocks, bolster, and a blanket

Watch the full practice at YogaVibes.

Refine Your Sequencing

August 13, 2014 – 11:05 am | Permalink | Teaching, Yoga

Much of my work in the last year has been taxonomical—categorizing and collating the sequences of poses I teach in class. There are various approaches to building a yoga pose sequence for class or home practice; mine is based on a chunking model. Each sequence constitutes a chunk, and these chunks can be strung together to create a short or a long practice.


My forthcoming book will expound on this model in a clear, accessible fashion (fans of The Athlete’s Pocket Guide to Yoga will be pleased). I wrote about the model in this post on the prAna blog, as well. And it’s the subject of a course I teach both online (Sequencing Yoga Classes from Welcome to Namaste) and in person. The next in-person offering is at the beautiful Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health next month, and there’s still time and space for you to join me! Full details are here.

Watch: Yoga for Athletes Teachers’ Lounge: Table Legs

August 11, 2014 – 11:20 am | Permalink | Media, Teaching, Yoga

The latest in my series of classes filmed during my Teaching Yoga to Athletes intensive has a fun warmup sequence.


Yoga Class Description

In this yoga class for teachers and everyone, filmed at the end of Day 2 of Sage’s Teaching Yoga to Athletes intensive, we use table pose as a home base to explore the six moves of the spine and four lines of the hip. You’ll find a balance between effort and ease, stability and mobility, in this low-to-the-ground practice. Have a bolster available. (44 mins.)

Suggested Yoga Props


Watch the whole thing at Yoga Vibes.

Read: Warm Up While You Lace Up

July 30, 2014 – 9:06 am | Permalink | Coaching, Media, Training and Racing, Yoga

As a huge fan of efficiency and multitasking, I’m excited to share this shoe-donning-cum-dynamic-warmup routine with you. You’ll find it in the September print edition of Runner’s World, as well as online and in video format (where it’s cheekily named “Get It On”). Enjoy!

Watch: Yoga for Athletes Teachers’ Lounge: Planks Galore

July 29, 2014 – 12:14 pm | Permalink | Media, Teaching, Yoga


Yoga Class Description

In this yoga class for teachers and everyone, filmed in Day 2 of Sage’s Teaching Yoga to Athletes intensive, you’ll move through a well-rounded routine designed to bring balance to your body. Start with supine warmup, then move to standing poses, both dynamic and static. The practice culminates in a series of plank poses alternating with backbends, side bends, and forward folds. You’ll build support for the spine, openness in the hips, and balance in every plane. Have a bolster, block, blanket and eye pillow available. (67 mins.)

Suggested Yoga Props

blocks, blanket, bolster, and eye pillow

Watch: Free Yoga for Athletes Videos

July 26, 2014 – 2:17 pm | Permalink | Coaching, Media, Recovery, Training and Racing, Yoga

AugustYJHave you had a chance to read the August issue of Yoga Journal? I wrote a twelve-week triathlon plan and asana sequences to complement swimming, cycling, and running you’ll find featured in the magazine. (That’s the “15 poses to build a strong, healthy body.”) There’s a set of videos to accompany the article. If you’re signed up for the Yoga for Athletes newsletter, you’re getting pointed to them weekly; if not, here you’ll find the first four:

Week 1: Swim Sequence
Week 2: Bike Sequence
Week 3: Run Sequence
Week 4: Poses for Recovery

You’ll also find beautiful “cheat sheets”:

Swim Sequence
Bike Sequence
Run Sequence

And four-week plans:

Phase 1
Phase 2
Phase 3

restoIf you are a TrainingPeaks user, you’ll find a similar approach to the sprint triathlon and other distances (many with yoga) here.

It’s not too late to pick up the newsletters here. I look forward to hearing how it goes!


Watch: Yoga for Athletes Teachers’ Lounge: Backbends

July 24, 2014 – 2:46 pm | Permalink | Media, Recovery, Teaching, Training and Racing, Yoga

Second in my Yoga Vibes series of ten practices filmed at my Teaching Yoga to Athletes intensive is an investigation of both passive and active backbends. These simple but powerful poses can improve posture, increase balance in the body, and prevent injury in athletes and everyone.


Watch the preview or the full class here.

Take the full teachers’ intensive online anytime.

Yoga Class Description

In this class, filmed at the end of Day 1 of Sage’s Teaching Yoga to Athletes intensive, we enjoy passive backbends to stretch the tight spots in the chest and hip flexors, then active backbends to strengthen the muscles in the posterior chain of the body. Throughout, Sage explains how balance between the front and back improves posture and reduces injury. Have two blocks and a bolster available. (40 mins.)

Suggested Yoga Props

two blocks and a bolster

Watch: IT Band Aid

July 22, 2014 – 10:16 am | Permalink | Media, Teaching, Training and Racing, Yoga

If you don’t know what your IT band (or iliotibial band) is, that’s great news—it’s probably not a problem area. If it is a hotspot for you, or if you have soreness at your outer hip or knee or general tightness along the outer thigh, this free video at YogaVibes has some ideas to help!


Yoga Class Description

In this free online yoga video, running coach and yoga teacher Sage Rountree explains what your IT band is, why it might bother you, and how to take a two-pronged approach both to salve an achy IT band and to strengthen your hips to prevent future pain.