Ultra Running with Hot Yoga: Member Feature

We chatted to Ultra Runner and Fierce Grace Brixton yoga fan, Bethan to find out what helps her get race ready: “spending 90 minutes in a hot studio is the perfect way to acclimatise to the types of extreme temperatures I’m likely to experience in Death Valley”.

A self confessed running addict and PhD student, Bethan uses Hot Yoga for strength and flexibility, to unwind after a big run and to work the mental focus required for those long distances, sometimes in extreme heat!

With races coming up in the desert – from Santa Monica Pier in LA to Las Vegas, in the UK and Morocco, Bethan is smashing through her training with some help from the deep, yin-tastic IN class.

So what makes an ultra runner tick?

Tell us about yourself

I’m Bethan, a runner and writer living in Brixton. In September 2018 I quit my job in the city and started a PhD looking at women in ultra running – I joke that when I run I’m technically studying! I’m fascinated by what the sport offers women and how powerful adventure can be, I know from my own experiences it can be life changing.

When I’m not studying running I’m training for The Speed Project 5.0, an unofficial relay race through Death Valley where teams run from Santa Monica Pier in LA to Las Vegas as fast as they can. There aren’t many rules, it’ll be tough, it’ll hurt and our RV will stink (eight women plus crew is a lot of bodies!), but I can’t wait to see what I really am capable of.

When I’m not running (or studying running) I blog at www.aprettyplacetoplay.com and can be found dashing around London on my little bike Doris, practicing yoga or off on some adventure or other.

What attracted you to Hot Yoga?

Hot Yoga offers so much to runners – it helps me build my flexibility and strength, both of which key when it comes to maintaining my form and running faster for longer. Secondly, spending time on the mat really helps to calm and centre me, which is so important when you’re taking on big challenges that can be overwhelming. Finally, spending 90 minutes in a hot studio is the perfect way to acclimatise to the types of extreme temperatures I’m likely to experience in Death Valley!

How do you balance running and yoga in your day to day life?

I’m the first to confess that I don’t have a normal day to day life. I’m a full time student and have a lot of control over my schedule, so I really can train whenever I way. Saying that it can sometimes be difficult to get motivated to step away from the laptop and go and train! Luckily I have amazing coaches who keep me on track, which helps massively, if a workout doesn’t get done I usually have some explaining to do. I also really believe in visualising my goals. Every day I spend some time bringing my focus to what I want to do and how I’m going to do it, it helps me keep my eye on the prize and mentally prepare me for the challenges I’ll face along the way.

What’s your favourite class and posture?

I love IN. It’s the perfect way to unwind and release any tightness I have. I love any practice where I can hold poses for a longer amount of time, I find it really beneficial as a runner because it just releases everything.

Favourite posture is a tough one! I find myself spending a lot of time in Frog to release my hips. Sleeping Swan/Pigeon is also a firm favourite for easing out my glutes, which tend to get worked pretty hard!

What advise would you give to a newcomer?

Give it a go! I was so intimidated by hot yoga because I thought it would be really hard, but what got me through the door was remembering that this is my practice. It doesn’t matter what you can and can’t do compared to other people, it’s about you and what your body needs at that time. Seriously, there are days I spend the whole class in child’s pose because that’s what I need, so no judgement here!

What are you doing at the minute/ what’s up next?

Right now I’m really gearing up for The Speed Project at the end of March. My priority is going in to this race strong; ensuring my body is in the best condition possible, that I’m mentally prepared and that my team have everything they need to perform on the road (we’re sorting out all our own logistics, which is a massive challenge in itself!) After kicking ass in the desert my plan is to spend some time exploring Mojave and Joshua Tree (including getting in some yoga!) before coming back to the UK to get ready for a summer on the trails in the UK and Morocco and a couple of half marathons which I’ll be running with my boyfriend.

Anything else to add?

If there’s something out there that scares you, that you don’t think you can do, give it a go. It will be hard, it will challenge you, but you will do it. It’s far better to be challenged than to wonder what if.