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I’ve always said that running is “my other yoga.” Yes, putting one foot in front of the other, mile after mile, helps me build physical strength, just like unrolling my mat does. But more than that, running strengthens my mind. It helps me to become a better version of myself, much in the same way meditating and practicing asana does.
Some days when I’m making a loop around my local park, I feel blissful. Other times—and this is more often the case—I think about how much my lungs are burning. How tired my quads are. How much I want to stop and melt into a puddle of sweat and exhaustion in the grass and call someone to pick me up, drive me home, and feed me a muffin. In other words: I am fully in my body. For the duration of that run, however long or short it is, I am 100 percent present. I’m not thinking about work, or what I’m going to feed my family for dinner, or how I (still) haven’t made much a dent in my to-do list. Instead I focus on my breath. On the way my foot rolls through each stride. On whether I’m pushing myself too hard—or not hard enough.
Each run, even if it is a path I’ve run dozens of times before, is an opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and grow as an athlete and a person. At the end of a run, I think about what I’ve gained. Honoring my body, mind and spirit sets me up for a more productive, happier day. It makes me better at my job, and calmer with my family. Running reminds that not only can I do hard things, I am better for doing them.
Still, it’s not always easy to motivate myself to lace up. At those times, I turn to Women’s Running, one of the other brands that I have access to as an Outside+ member. Reading inspiring stories about other runners and learning the tips and tricks they use to get out the door when motivation is lacking helps me remember why I run in the first place.
And while I’m currently focused on building up some of the endurance and stamina I’ve lost over the past year (thanks, pandemic), I’m feeling the itch to sign up for some 10ks or even a half-marathon this fall. Women’s Running has great training plans to help me get there—and plenty of them are designed for everyday runners like me, not just hard-core racers. Also, I’m a few years older than I was when I did my last half, so I’ve also been reading up on their injury-prevention and recovery tips.
But the best part about Women’s Running is that it reminds me that even though I may run solo, I’m not alone. I’m part of a community of women who have discovered that running—like yoga—can literally change your life. That connection is what makes being a runner so incredibly special.
It’s also what makes Outside+ so brilliant. We’ve brought content together from across dozens of brands, so no matter what combination of pursuits you’re into, you can find it here. Join today and get everything you need to become a better version of yourself: healthy recipes and meal plans from Clean Eating and Vegetarian Times, gear reviews from Backpacker, Climbing, and Ski, subscription boxes from Cairn, travel ideas from National Parks Trips and much, much more.
Tracy Middleton is the Editor in Chief and Brand Director at Yoga Journal.