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Home » How to Boost Your Running Game with Yoga with Dana DeSutter! Ep86

How to Boost Your Running Game with Yoga with Dana DeSutter! Ep86

#086 – Do you want to boost your running performance while also preventing injuries and improving your overall health? If so, I have the solution for you. Avid runner turned yoga teacher, Dana DeSutter, shares the key to injury prevention and improved health for runners through incorporating yoga into their training plans.

Topics Covered:

  • Find out how incorporating yoga into your training plan can boost your running game and reduce injury risk
  • Hear about the surprising mental and physical benefits awaiting runners who embrace yoga
  • Get practical advice on kicking off your yoga journey as a novice
  • Learn how strength training can act as a vital ally in reaching your running goals

Today’s Guest

Dana DeSutter

Dana, the founder of Namastride, is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer, RYT200 Certified Yoga Teacher through the Marianne Wells Yoga School, and an avid runner. She has run 3 marathons and a number of half marathons. After dealing with injuries throughout marathon training during her first and second marathons, she decided to incorporate a more consistent yoga practice into her training plan. She saw mental and physical benefits, and decided to become a yoga teacher so she could share yoga with other runners. 

Follow Dana @ Namastride:


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Listen to Inspire to Run Podcast:

Richard Conner: [00:00:00] Hey, my friend for runners cross training is just as important as going out there and getting in our training runs. But have you ever considered incorporating yoga as part of your cross training? If not, you could be missing out on a lot of the benefits that yoga brings in general, but in particular, from runners today, I’m going to share a great conversation that I had with Dana from Namastride an online yoga instruction business. And we’re going to talk about what those benefits are physically and mentally from runners by doing yoga. Hope you enjoy.

Hi everyone. Welcome to Inspire to Run podcast. Today we’re here with Dana DeSutter. Dana is [00:01:00] the founder of Namastride, an ACE certified personal trainer, RYT200 certified yoga teacher through the Maryanne Wells Yoga School and an avid runner. She has run three marathons and a number of half marathons after dealing with injuries throughout marathon training during her first and second marathons.

She decided to incorporate a more consistent yoga practice into her training plan. She saw mental and physical benefits and decided to become a yoga teacher so she could share yoga with other runners. Welcome to the show, Dana.

Dana DeSutter: Thank you. I’m excited to be here.

Richard Conner: Well, I’m excited to have you here as well and really talk about the topic of yoga. It’s, it’s a topic that we brought on the show really early on, I think when I first launched a show, and it’s something that. Personally I’ve wanted to incorporate into my own training plan, and I’ve done it a little bit, but not consistently and not to the extent that I’d like to.

And I’m sure there are other runners out there that may have tried in the past or maybe just don’t know the [00:02:00] benefits of yoga. So let’s just kind of jump into the conversation and learn a little bit about you. I know you’re first a runner, so let’s kind of start the story there in terms of how you became a runner.

Dana DeSutter: Yeah, so I’ve been running most of my life. I was fortunate enough to have parents that were into running. My dad was a good runner in high school. Uh, he ran the two mile and a mile, and my mom, I remember when I was a little kid, she would get up at five o’clock in the morning and go meet friends to run before helping us get ready for school.

And so having that was a great thing for me to see and inspire me and I. I was able to join track in sixth grade. That was the earliest you could join. So, um, got to do that. I started out as a mile or two in the spirit of what my dad did, but realized that I was more of a middle distance runner. I loved the 400, the 200, um, but it’s, it’s harder in my opinion to do that as an adult.

So when I went to college, I decided to [00:03:00] do distance running. I had a cousin that we went to the same school and she was training for half marathon that they had every spring. So I did my first one my freshman year of college, and then my college roommate started running marathons after college and uh, we ran one together.

So I guess I’ve been fortunate to have other people that are into running and I’ve kind of. Said, oh sure, I’ll try that. And here I am still, still running. , I said after my first marathon, I never do one again, and I’ve done two more and I hope to do all of the majors.

Richard Conner: Oh, that’s incredible. Well, we’re gonna have to talk about all the majors cuz uh, I have a story about that. But, you know, really incredible journey and I didn’t start running as early as you did. I started in high school and I could certainly resonate with, you know, having that community or having others, you know, run with you because I think that was probably part of why I didn’t run.

That much after high school and I only ran a little bit as part of my workouts, but I didn’t run races and I didn’t train [00:04:00] in that way for a really long time, just not until a, a few years ago. So definitely can resonate with that, you know, kind of have having that community.

Dana DeSutter: Yeah, that’s been instrumental for me. I’ve, I’ve moved a lot. Um, so I found that in every city I’ve moved to, there’s so many running communities, a lot of them are free. So it’s really great. You can meet people and it’s a little, little cost. You need to pay for your running shoes and. Um, time is probably the biggest constraint for a lot of people.

Richard Conner: Yeah, for sure, for sure. And then, you know, let’s dive into the marathons for just a moment cuz I’m so excited to talk about this. So I was a cross country runner in high school and I did track and I very much preferred cross country, but never considered myself. A long distance runner, right. So for me it was anything more than than a 5k.

And then I started running longer distances just a few years ago as part of my own journey with, uh, obstacle course races. And, you know, working with a running coach and, you know, kind of doing a little bit more than I’ve done in the past. [00:05:00] And. I ran my first half marathon maybe three or four years ago and I’ve run a few since then.

And now I’m thinking about my first marathon, but just the other day I’m like, wow, if I run my first marathon, let’s say New York City, which is one I’m really excited to run, what if, you know, over the next five years I run the other five, you know, major, major marathons. So it’s cool that you said that and we’re gonna have to keep in touch on that topic cuz this is something that’s, uh, interesting for me.

Dana DeSutter: yeah. That’s exciting. And I. I’m at zero right now of them. But, um, I might do Chicago this fall. I haven’t signed up yet, but, um, I think there are still some charity spots. So looking to do that.

Richard Conner: Very cool. Very cool. So, , during your marathon journey, you know, I, I read in your bio that you started to experience some challenges, right? Some, um, obstacles kind of through that journey. So talk to us a little bit about, you know, what you’re going through, through the marathons and how did that lead you to kind of the work that you’re doing today?

Dana DeSutter: Yeah, so my first marathon, [00:06:00] I dealt with a lot of injuries, um, mostly muscle tightness, but it was, it was pretty bad. And I, part of that is a product of when I did track, I was a jumper. So, um, just body imbalances and I think everyone can relate. You know, our bodies are not perfectly. We’re perfectly imperfect, but you know, we’re not, we’re not perfectly aligned, perfectly balanced.

And for me, that really came out when I was training for the marathon and doing long miles. Um, my left, my left side’s weaker. It always has been. Um, and so I worked with the chiropractor and he was good about getting me into the weight room and doing things. But, you know, I, I wanted to understand what I could do.

And so first off, I became a personal trainer. I. Loved learning about how the body works. I have a business background, so for me, learning anatomy and all about the human body was really fascinating and very different from what I studied. And I [00:07:00] guess as part of that, and thinking about long-term, there’s continuing education credits that are required.

I trying to think about what I wanted to do. For my personal training niche, and I lived close to a yoga studio in Houston that a girl I lived with, she loved it. So I started going to it and I started seeing that when I went to yoga, I was doing movements that even going to the weight room, I felt different.

I was able to target smaller muscle groups more easily. I felt more aligned, more in balance and also just. Felt more in tune with my body and had a better, better understanding of what is going on. And so that’s kind of what got me to where I am today and how I dealt with my injuries. And it was kind of a process of figuring out what worked.

And yoga seemed to be the thing that adding to training, uh, that worked for me.

Richard Conner: Okay, and, and I’ve heard this before, you know, in the other conversations that I’ve [00:08:00] had with yoga, so I’m really interested to learn more. More about like what specifically about yoga can help, you know, in, in this area. And then lot of questions about what type of yoga we should be doing as runners and how do we fit it all in, you know, with our training and, and everything else.

So maybe we’ll start with the first part about like, what, I know you mentioned it, it helps you target maybe smaller muscle groups. Maybe that’s one way, but you know, kind of where the big ways is. You think that yoga helps runners in that way.

Dana DeSutter: Well, I think the strength component, , going to the weight room is great. I do that too when I can, but I like that with yoga, I can get strength training in. I can also get mobility, the way you move your body, , and also do relaxation and restoration. And you can do all of those things in one yoga class.

There’s different styles of yoga that focus on strength or focus on. Restoration. But in one yoga class you can get everything. You warm up, you cool down. Um, usually the style I teach, it’s an easy warmup. [00:09:00] Get your body moving and then go through some gentle stretches and build up to where you are doing strength, it’s full body.

Um, and then at the end do more of the relaxation restorative poses. So for me, my favorite time to do yoga is after a long run, and usually those. You know, your legs are tired, but a long yoga session can feel really good, letting you cool down, um, can help reduce inflammation. So there’s all sorts of benefits.

Those are the big ones for me. I, strength, mobility, and, , recovery are the big ones.

Richard Conner: Okay. Okay. And you know, I know that, well, I don’t know. I, I, I think that the way you look at yoga is. More than just stretching, right? It’s in those areas that you talked about, the, um, strength, et cetera. So how would someone fit this in to, if they have, let’s say I’m running five, six

Dana DeSutter: Mm-hmm.

Richard Conner: Uh, typically my long runs are maybe two or three days a week, maybe just not one [00:10:00] day.

And then other days I’m doing more speed work, uh, as an example. So how would I fit? How would I think about this? Would I do that strength and relaxation? , every time I do yoga or I do relaxation on certain days and do the whole thing on other days, like how, how are you thinking about like, um, how runners should fit that into a schedule?

Dana DeSutter: Uh, So two answers. One is a thing I really like about yoga is it’s flexible and you can make it what works for you. So I, I don’t say there’s one size fits all. What I like to do is on rest days, if it’s a true rest day, I will sometimes do a gentle yoga session. I’ll just stretch, relax. I may not even stand up.

I may just lay on the mat and hold poses for a long time. , whatever feels good. , if I have a. It’s cross training or strength today. That’s usually when I do more of the intense yoga. You, you can get your heart rate up pretty high in yoga. , it may not be a true cross training, but sometimes for me, if I [00:11:00] am limited on time rather than cross training, uh, I’ll do yoga because I think for me personally, I get more out of it than I would from getting on a bike.

, and then like I mentioned too, , after a long run I like to do a. A long yoga session. , usually on the weekends, you know, if you have a morning you get up early and run, you can spend some time afterwards and mostly do recovery those days. But I also will do some strength too, because usually after a long run you have a recovery run or rest day after that, so you have a little bit more time to recover from that too.

, time is a constraint even for me. I, I don’t do yoga every day. I wish I did. , but. I’ve realized that five or 10 minutes is better than nothing. So in the morning after run, even when I’m getting ready for work, sometimes when I’m in the bathroom I’ll stand and do some stretches and, um, you know, go through breath work and do that, um, to multitask.

It’s not the best way to do it, but it’s better than nothing, in my opinion.[00:12:00] , or just thinking. Okay, am I really, can I really not make five minutes to do this? , and I think having that mindset of it’s just five minutes and building up to a longer period of time is helpful, rather than trying to do 60 minutes of yoga every day while you’re trying to run 60 minutes every day. ,

Richard Conner: that’s a really great point cuz I mean, I’m just thinking about the times where I was doing my base or my . Build sessions, um, over the course of a few weeks and I’m running like six or seven hours a week.

Dana DeSutter: Mm-hmm.

Richard Conner: So if you can imagine that’s an, that’s an hour a day on average, which it’s not that, right?

It’s more because some days I’m, I’m running for longer. And then to think about, okay, I have to stretch and I have to do. 30 or 60 minutes of yoga. So the i the idea that it is hard, right? If you’re trying to fit this in. So I love what you said about that. Like, you know, you could start small, you could start with that five to 10 minutes to get it in, just to kind of build that habit.

And then over time, if you’re able to work it into your schedule, , work [00:13:00] through you longer sessions, right? And I love how you have that one day where you had that long session and then you work it in through your other, your other workouts. So let’s talk a little bit about like, how does someone get started with yoga? I think when someone, I think it is just like with running, right? If you see someone who runs a 5K and you don’t run today, you’re like, oh, I could never do that, but, and so you see some of the yoga poses and you’re wondering, mm, like how, how does someone even get started and kind of build up to that?

What are your recommendations?

Dana DeSutter: So I, I’m thinking about when I started yoga. I grew up in a really small town. We didn’t have a yoga studio. We, I didn’t really know what yoga was. , so when I started, I went to a studio that I grew to like, but I remember my first class. It was a hot yoga studio. There were all, like a lot of people that clearly did yoga all the time, and a lot of the poses, there’s um, there’s an English term, but then there’s the Sanskrit term and a lot of times in a class they’ll just use that.

And I was like, I don’t know what any of [00:14:00] this means. Um, so I think going to a studio can be great. Um, I love that YouTube and online platforms are available. I have a YouTube page and I try to make it accessible for everyone and. I feel like it’s a safe space to get started. So, , you can learn about what equipment do I need to do yoga.

, for me, I think a mat is great. , I, when I started, I got like a cheap mat at like TJ Max or Marshalls. It was just, I was like, I don’t know what I need. , and then I realized I wanted the nicer one. They last for a long time. , I like blocks, straps, and bolsters. Those are the things I use. , you can use a pillow instead of a bolster you can use.

Books instead of blocks. , and a towel instead of a strap. So I think a lot of people think, oh, it’s gonna be expensive. Yoga yoga’s expensive. It can be that’s true, but you can also make it work with your lifestyle. And I travel a lot. I’m not traveling with all these things, so I make it work in a hotel.

, so that’s, that’s one way to start. Try to [00:15:00] just understand, you know, what are the basics? What do I. What do I need to get started and try out a YouTube video? Do it at home. No one’s around. Um, the other thing I will say is when you go to a yoga studio, talk to the teachers, they, they, they’re there to teach.

They’re there to help you. , and. I would say from my experience too, everyone is focused on themselves and what they’re doing. So if you think you’re making a fool of yourself, no one else is paying attention. And yoga is all about non-judgment. So if someone’s judging you, then that’s on them.

Richard Conner: For sure, for sure. And you know, we say the same thing about, you know, running right? You, it’s, it’s your race, it’s your pace. You know, folks are typically supportive and cheering you on and. But more than likely they’re focused on their own runs and their own races. So I can definitely understand that. And then, you know, now that you’ve brought up YouTube and doing the work that you’re doing with the video.

So let’s talk a little bit about that. So you’ve not only incorporated yoga in your own training plan, but you started this business, NA Mistri, and you’ve, you [00:16:00] moved to online with YouTube. So talk a little bit about the work that you’re doing there.

Dana DeSutter: Yeah, so I, I guess talking about my, my yoga teacher journey, I’ve talked about my yoga journey a little bit, but, um, I went through the Maryanne Wells Yoga School, so Maryanne and Ron, uh, do yoga teacher trainings. I got to do it in Costa Rica, which was. Amazing. Um, great place to spend for a couple weeks, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do with teaching.

It was more just curiosity and wanting to learn. I started teaching in some studios, um, and then Covid happened and, , I was virtual. A lot of students studios were having people teach virtual. I do have a full-time job, so that was a challenge. So I, I stopped teaching during that time when I, I went to grad school, I.

Had classmates that I taught and that was a lot of fun. I realized that I really missed teaching. Um, I was also fortunate enough that school had a program where you could look into starting a business, so I had kind of thought about like, oh, I wanna do something more with yoga. And so that [00:17:00] was the time that I really thought about what do I want to do?

And I love running. I think yoga has helped my running. And so that’s how Anma started. And, um, recently I’ve moved to just having videos on YouTube. I do things on Instagram, um, but I’m trying to make yoga accessible to runners. We’ve talked about it can be challenging, and daunting to try to find the time.

So I’ve made a lot of short five, 10 minute videos that, you know, sometimes I’ll do my, my own videos. It’s five minutes quick, can turn it on, , but get a little bit of benefit. So that’s, It was a little bit of a self-serving business, I guess, because I am a runner, but I really wanted to share the benefits with other people as well.

Richard Conner: I, I think that’s the best, right? I mean, you, you know what you need as, as a runner and you want to help other runners through this. So, yeah, even though you say it’s self-serving, I think that, , it’s a, it’s a very good purpose that you have and, and mission that you have. So, you [00:18:00] know, a couple of questions.

One is I’m very curious about the name Namastride. How did that come about?

Dana DeSutter: Um, I was part of, part of the,, business startup, , class I was doing. I was trying to figure out a name and my, , I, I have a personal Instagram as well, and it was Yogi on the run. And I, I was like, man, that’s, that’s kind of a mouthful for a business name. , trying to think. And I was just brainstorming and that came to me.

I was like, oh, like namaste and Stride running. , that could work. So I asked a few people. , you know, it might, it might go over some people’s heads. It’s maybe confusing to some people, but I thought it was funny. , if you know me well, I love a good pun, so I, I thought it was a good fit for me.

Richard Conner: I love it. I love it. So, so the, I I appreciate you sharing that. And you know, one of the questions that I like to ask our guests on the show is through this journey, whether it’s your running journey or, or starting up Namastride, what would you say was your biggest obstacle and how’d you [00:19:00] overcome it?

Dana DeSutter: I think time, , time for running for the business has been the biggest hurdle. I think I overcome it sometimes and other times not as much. Um, but for me, planning and thinking about having goals is really important. And so with my running journey, You know, I sometimes I get stagnant in my running, and I know if I sign up for a race, it will get me back on track.

, it gives me something to do, a schedule, I don’t have to think about it. , and with yoga too, there are times when, , my body, my body lets me know when I’m not doing yoga enough. And so I’ve found that, you know, sometimes your body’s. Requires you to take the time to do things that are important. And so, , keeping that in mind has also been a way that I’ve been able to overcome the, the time challenges.

Richard Conner: For sure and I could totally get the time. You know, someone asked me the other day like, how do you do it all? Uh, because, you know, work full time. I volunteer quite [00:20:00] a bit for either business associations or I support nonprofits. Podcast training for, you know, half marathons and maybe a marathon next year.

And someone asked me, how do I do it all? I’m like, well, I don’t do it all very well all the time, right? So there’s certain times where there’s certain things that I really put more focus and attention on, and there’s certain things that I just say, I’m gonna do what I need to do here. And one thing that I’ve learned this year is, Around, and this may be what you were talking about in terms of goals, it’s really not so much just finding balance, but knowing when to say no to certain things.

So I could say yes to other things and then I establish those goals around those things that I really want to do that are really important to me. And those are the ones that I go after. So that’s kind of my focus this year. Cause I think I tend to say yes to everything and then I run out of time and I don’t do any of it as well as I want to.

So, Dana DeSutter: Absolutely.

Richard Conner: So, you know, I know we talked a little bit about this in terms of time being a [00:21:00] barrier and the ways that you overcome it. What do you think are some of the other barriers for a runner to consider? Uh, Yoga, it’s all the benefits that comes with it. The strength, the flexibility to help. You know, I don’t know if I can go as far to say preventing injuries or helping, you know, recovering from injuries, but, so you have all these benefits.

What do you think are the barriers besides time for a runner?

Dana DeSutter: A couple things come to mind. One is a lot of people will say like, oh, I’m not flexible. I, I can’t do yoga. And I argue that, well, if you’re not flexible, you, you may arguably need it more. And, um, I am not flexible by any means. And yoga teacher training, I was actually the Guinea pig sometimes of like, This is, this is what someone with really tight hamstrings looks like, and this is a modification you have to take because a lot of people did yoga a lot and they were very flexible.

And I realized that it was actually a little bit of an advantage for me. You know, coming in I was like, oh man, I’m not flexible, like I’m not gonna be able to do any of this stuff. And I realized that the general [00:22:00] public doesn’t necessarily have the flexibility that a lot of yoga teachers do. So I was able to use that to my advantage.

So don’t let. Your, you know, if, if you have tight hips or hamstrings or whatever it is, don’t let that, um, stop you from trying it. , I’ve been doing it for years. I’m not a ton more flexible, but I think I at least keep myself where I want to be. And, , you know, when I’m running, I think I help myself not be super stiff.

So that’s one thing. , I think the mental aspect and keeping that in mind is important too. , so I think if you just think of yoga as stretching, , you’re less likely to do it. Whereas if you realize that there are a lot of mental health benefits of yoga too, , you know, there’s the runner’s high yoga also has similar benefits.

There’s endorphins and all of that associated with yoga as well. And, , reducing stress. So, , trying that and thinking about that can be another way to overcome the barrier of trying and [00:23:00] just letting yourself be a beginner. You know, I’m still learning all the time and letting go of the ego and, , putting yourself out there and whether that’s at home or going to a studio, um, and just trying it out.

Richard Conner: Love it. Love it. I love this conversation. You know, you share so many great tips here and insights, you know, thinking back to. Making the time to do it, setting goals around it, making a plan. So, you know, incorporating yoga in your training plan ahead of time so you’re more likely to do it, having the right tools, doing yoga, using videos online, so you’re, you’re in your own space, you know, judgment free space.

And then just kind of how folks or runners should think about yoga, right? Not more than stretching, but you know, also for. That flexibility and also for the mental, you know, mental aspect of it. So, and that’s something that I don’t know if we talked about before. So that’s in, that’s interesting. And, and I really like that you, that you brought that up.

So, you know, let’s talk a little bit about what’s next for you as a runner, and let’s talk about a little bit [00:24:00] what’s next for Namastride.

Dana DeSutter: , as a runner, hopefully running the Chicago marathon this fall. But, uh, I have not signed up yet. , I found a training firm. I have not used a coach, um, because I, I do have a pretty demanding job. , it’s one thing that, , the unpredictability, I don’t want to invest in a coach. I know they’re super helpful.

I’ve had tons of friends that have seen success with it, but I’m, I’m not there quite yet, but I did find a new training program online that looks fun. And for me, I like to try different programs. I’m a very curious person. I love to learn. , if you’ve, you’ve probably figured that out through a lot of my, , responses today.

But, , trying that out and just having fun with it. So that’s kind of next for my running journey and. , for Namastride, just continue what I’m doing. , I’m hoping to this summer post some new videos for people, , continue teaching. I’ve done some online teaching for, uh, running clubs. I’ve done in-person teaching for running clubs.

I did [00:25:00] a running retreat last year where I taught yoga at. So doing those kind of things, it’s a lot of fun for me to do. And, , I think it’s, I think people enjoy it too and enjoy learning more about yoga and realizing that it is something that’s accessible to pretty much anyone.

Richard Conner: Love it. Love it. Dana, thank you so much. I’m really enjoying this conversation. And you know, another question I like to ask our guests is kind as we wrap up here, is what is the one thing that you would say to inspire our listeners to run and incorporate yoga?

Dana DeSutter: Oh, that’s tough. Um, I think for both is, just have fun with it. Uh, I think that social media is great and it’s not great. Um, you can see so many people trying see beginners, but there’s also the comparison culture that comes into play, and I fall into that as well. But when I’m having fun running, it’s.

You know, and I’m thinking about it [00:26:00] from a fun mindset. It’s really, it’s a really great thing. And I recently, this spring, I was not running, I was running like one or two times a week and then I was trying to run like five days a week and running fast. And it was, it wasn’t fun. And I reset, I slowed down.

Um, the past few weeks I’ve been walking on my runs and, you know, letting go of your ego, that’s a very yoga thing to do. And just, Coming back and saying, I’m not where I was, but I can get there. Um, and I think anyone can do that. You may start walking a hundred yards a day, but you’ll be surprised what your body can do.

And um, I’m always surprised that even when I lose my fitness, it, it comes back. And the same for yoga. , be a beginner learn. You may fall away from it, but come back to it and, um, have fun with it too.

Richard Conner: Love it. Love it. Dana, thank you so much. I really appreciate you coming on the show and sharing this with us. How can our community find you and follow [00:27:00] your journey online?

Dana DeSutter: Yeah, so Namastride is the handle on Instagram. That’s where I’m most active. And I’m also on YouTube. Namastride is the channel as well. So that’s where all the videos. That I have are, and I mentioned earlier, some of them are five minutes long, some are more like 45 minutes long. So whatever you’re feeling that day, I encourage you to try it.

And um, if you have questions on Instagram, I’m pretty active on there. You can just message me too. I’m always happy to help with whatever I can.

Richard Conner: All right, I will put that information in the show notes to make it easy for our listeners to find you. And I can attest that you do respond, , very well, very quickly on a lot of different topics. So I personally appreciate that and I’m sure our community will appreciate that once they follow you. So thanks again, Dana, for coming on the show and good luck with the Chicago Marathon this year.

Dana DeSutter: Thank you. It’s, it’s been fun. Thanks for having me.