Our student Michelle is an Ultra-runner who has been practicing Bikram Yoga for almost 2 years. The following is an interview capturing her thoughts, experiences and reflections.
Q: How long have you been running for?
A: 16 years
Q: Can you describe what training for your ultra marathons is like?
A: When I am training for an ultra marathon I try to run 70-90 miles per week. I also find that cross training is very beneficial, I do yoga, strength training and cycling to prevent over-use injuries.
Q: Do you have a certain type of terrain you most enjoy?
A: I love to run on trails. Most of my ultra marathons are run on trails. You can’t beat the beauty and peace that you find on the trails.
Q: Do you prefer long distance or short distance running?
A: I prefer long distance running. I do not do races anymore that are less than a marathon distance.
Q: Have you ever sustained injuries from running?
A: Yes, I have had tendonitis in my foot and piriformis pain.
Q: How has Bikram helped to alleviate some of your injuries? Have you ever experienced any mind over body moments before, during or after running?
A: Bikram has really helped me with my piriformis problems. It helps by opening my hips, stretching and strengthening my hamstrings and quads.
Q: Can you describe what you used to think about or your ability to focus when you were running before you began your practice?
A: I often run with other people so I do not always have to think that much. Often times I would be wondering “why do I put myself though this” or I would think about what parts of my body were uncomfortable.
Q: How do you think yoga has affected where your mind goes when you are running?
A: Now I use yoga to think about the beautiful things that my body will do for me because I have trained for what I am doing. I know that if I think I can do something, then I will do it. When something hurts I now know how to breathe and relax those muscles that hurt so that they no longer hurt.
Q: Have you ever experienced a runner's high? If so, what is that like for you?
A: For me a runner’s high is when I am running and if feels effortless.
Q: Obviously as a ultra runner, you push yourself beyond incredible limits that are unimaginable for most people. Since you started, have you seen the practice of Bikram effect your focus when you run to help push you even further into new territory either physically or mentally? If so, can you describe that for me?
A: I started Bikram about 15 months ago and since then I have completed my longest race which was 200 miles. Prior to that, my longest race was 150 miles. I made sure that when I was training for that race, I did not miss any Bikram classes, I knew that it would help me mentally as well as physically.
Q: What has been your biggest challenge you have been faced with in the hot room? How are you overcoming this challenge?
A: I still struggle with balancing poses.
Q: What do you feel that you have learned in your Bikram Practice that has intertwined itself into other areas of your life?
A: I definitely feel stronger both mentally and physically since starting Bikram. I feel more confident and less stress which helps with my work and personal life.
Q: Can you describe your reality in the final moments of the longest marathon?
A: My husband joined me for the last 4 miles of my 200 mile race and it was such a joy to be running with him in the middle of the night in the woods. I still had so much energy I could not believe that I was doing it and going to finish.