As the race date draws near, most runners must be stepping up their training programme to achieve peak race performance. It is, however, important to remember that we can only become “Kings” of the road, if we stay injury-free.

A good way to prevent injury and also improve overall performance is to practice Yoga.

To coincide with Adidas King of the Road Championship at Gardens by the Bay, Singapore, on 28 October, COMO Shambhala Urban Escape will launch a weekly performance-enhancing class, “Yoga for Runners.”

The 60-minute sessions will take place every Saturday at 2.45pm for two months. The class will focus on lengthening and strengthening muscles to counterbalance tension and joint pressure, which result from run trainings.

RunSociety had the honour of watching Ms Celeste Lau, a Yoga instructor at COMO Shambhala Urban Escape, in action. She is also an experienced marathon runner and speaks of the benefits of yoga to runners’ performance.

“Yoga is great for runners because it helps to improve breath pattern and efficiency, promote suppleness, increase blood circulation and prevent the build-up of lactic acid in the muscles,” she said.

Tell us more about yourself. How did you start running and when did Yoga start?
I started running when I was a teenager, as I have always been very athletic since I was a child. I started Yoga when I was at university in London.

What is your running regime like?
I run 8-10 km a day and sometimes more on weekends. I run just before 5am. But when I am tired, I go for a short jog. It’s important to listen to your body and not to push yourself too much every day.

How does Yoga fit into your fitness regime?
Yoga always takes priority over running, so if I’m short on time it’s more important for me to do my daily Yoga practice than to run. But I like doing both each day – I run first, then do my Yoga practice as it helps to avoid muscle soreness, fatigue, stiffness and injury following a run.

How does Yoga complement running?
Yoga helps create flexibility and strength. It also helps in blood circulation through the right way of breathing. Runners tend to use specific muscles repetitively which is not good for the joints. Yoga helps lengthen these ‘shortened’ muscles and prevent injury.

Are there any poses that our readers can try at home?

Pose #1: Side stretch- for the waist, IT band, kidneys.
Pose #2: Anjaneyasana – for the groin, hip flexors and psoas
Pose #3: Downward facing dog- for hamstrings, calves and back and arms
Pose #4: Dwi pada vakrasana- for groin and lower back, sacro-iliac region
Pose #5: Ardha matsyendrasana- back
Pose #6: Supta virassana- for the hip flexor and psoas
Pose #7: Ustrasana- strengthens foot, psoas and releases back.

There are so many types of Yoga. How do we know what’s suitable for us? Do we need an instructor?
The physical form of Yoga has its root in Hatha yoga. Many types of Yoga are a hybrid of Hatha Yoga. COMO Shambhala Urban Escape, Singapore offers a variety of Yoga types from Hatha and Vinyasa to Ashtanga and Yin. Their website has a full explanation of each type of Yoga. Yes, it’s far more beneficial to have an instructor when practicing Yoga whether privately or attending a group class. A qualified instructor ensures you practice Yoga in the correct way e.g. each pose is moved into and held accurately to optimise your practice and prevents injury.

Celeste will be running in the adidas King of the Road championship in Singapore on October 28, 2012. Between now and then, COMO will be releasing tips on nutrition, yoga and training on the COMO Shambhala Facebook page.

I know of people who think that Yoga is too slow, too relaxed and too easy. I say, real men practise yoga too. Give it a try and you might be in for a surprise.

Chow Yong Jun

I am a writer by day, an athlete by night. I love running at night because the streets just become so quiet and peaceful. My active lifestyle includes running, swimming and a passion for soccer. I have completed a few marathons and I enjoy other races like biathlons and urbanthlons. The only reason why I don't do triathlons is bikes are too expensive!

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