NYC Marathon Runners Use Yoga to Prepare for Race

Pre-NYC Marathon Yoga Event with Pineapple Yogi.

24 hours before the NYC Marathon, runners sit and stretch in contorted positions to prepare for a grueling 26.2 mile race, where they’ll be moving repeatedly for 4 hours.

According to, yoga can be a great benefit to runners, improving their times and building mental endurance. Sharon Armstrong of Pineapple Yogi in NYC has been practicing yoga for five years and been an instructor for one.

This is the first year she is teaching yoga workouts for NYC Marathon runners in her event, Pre NYC Marathon Yoga for Runners and she says they will all see benefits.

“They should see increased flexibility, range of motion and they’ll be able to optimize their running,” Armstrong said. “Basically they’ll have a faster speed, better form and better oxygen intake.”

Sharon Armstrong and NYC Marathon yogis

The event held at The Runners Gym in Midtown Manhattan consisted of a three classes (90 minute sessions) beginning from 12 pm to 4:30 pm. The first class was the largest with 12 students, four to five them running in the NYC Marathon.

The yogis ranged in diversity, including different ages, sexes, races and expertise level. Some were very experienced and had no trouble getting into poses like the lizard pose, the 3-legged dog, the warrior 2 and the half moon, while others needed assistance from Armstrong.

Yogis perform various stretches to optimize running

These various fold and twists are focused on releasing tension, mind relaxation but also strength building.

“Today’s stretching were towards the legs, focusing on the hamstrings, quads, gluteus, calves and shins,” Armstrong said.

In addition to the muscle training, she added that yoga can improve endurance, a power coveted by athletes and marathon runners.

“Runners will improve their mindset, longevity and gain better control over their breathing,” Armstrong said.

Sharon Armstrong assists yogis with difficult poses
More yoga poses

Christopher Sewell, a marathon runner from Brooklyn, NY, is here primarily to get loose. This is Sewell’s first ever yoga class, and it showed, but he is an experienced long distance runner. The NYC Marathon is Sewell’s third marathon in a year and second in less than a month.

“The Philadelphia marathon was my first last year,” Sewell said. “After Philly, I was convinced to run in the Chicago marathon and now I’m doing New York.”

He represents the running team Lean, Strong, Fast and started running with Black Men Run NYC. After doing shorter three-five miles runs, his personal trainer convinced him to begin signing up for marathons, beginning with Philly.

Although experienced, Sewell has come to this yoga class to improve on his weaknesses.

“I’m not good at stretching,” Sewell said.

The yoga he does pre-race helps him stay loose and figure out the tight areas that need extra attention.

“I don’t feel loose yet and I need to figure out where I’m more tight,” Sewell said. “My hips are tighter than other parts and this helps be more cognizant of that.”

“Yoga for Runners” by Christine Felstead, suggests that most runners are intimidated by yoga, due to fear of lack of flexibility.

“Those who are the stiffest have the most to gain. Runners, specifically, have a tremendous amount to gain…,” Felstead writes. “Running can lead to injury because of its repetitive nature and the resulting musculoskeletal imbalances. On a physical level, yoga restores balance and symmetry to the body, making it the perfect complement to running.”