Quick Chat with Silke
Yoga for runners
Miss Runner: Being a runner and a yoga instructor, at what point did running and yoga really converge for you?
Silke Bender: While running strengthens your muscles and cardio system, yoga works more on softening your muscles and calming down your body and mind.Yoga & Running are very complementary.Due to the permanent pounding, running tightens and shortens muscles while yoga is able to lengthen them and release tension that has been built up from running.
MR: Yoga for runners seems like a new concept to many of us, can you tell us what's so special about it?
SB: Yoga covers strength, balance and flexibility. Strength: It is important to understand that running performance does not only happen on the road or on the trail but that your body also needs targeted strengthening training (especially for feet, ankles, thighs and core). This kind of strength work can be covered by certain yoga postures. Balance: Running is a one legged sport, i.e. while running only one foot at a time is on the ground. With balancing yoga postures, you can improve foot and ankle strength. This is very important especially in trail running as you have to balance yourself on uneven, sometimes slippery grounds, roots and rocks. Having strong feet and ankles prevents injuries. Flexibility: Running shortens & tightens muscles especially in the legs and hip region. Hip opening yoga postures, yoga stretches for the IT band, thighs, calves and hamstrings release tight muscles thus preventing injury, improving motion and running speed.
MR: What is your best piece of advice to marathon runners?
SB: Gradually build up strength, speed and endurance. Don't focus on running only, instead also do strengthening exercises and yoga about 3-4 times a week. Treat your body as a temple: get enough sleep, have a healthy, nutritious (plant based) diet and hydrate well. A healthy lifestyle increases energy levels and boosts physical performance. After a race (marathon), make sure to get good food within 1 hour after the race and do some active recovery by stretching & foam rolling a couple of hours after the race. The following day you may even go for a light 3-5k recovery jog to increase the blood flow which supports recovery.
MR: We know that you are from Germany, so what brought you to Hong Kong? How do you feel about this place?
SB: I've always been a big fan of Asian culture, Asian food and big cities so Hong Kong was kind of the perfect place for me to go. I love Hong Kong's contrasts: Western & Asian culture, traditional and modern spirit, old and new architecture, city and nature...Hong Kong's mix of Western and Asian culture makes me feel like home and provides the excitement of living in a foreign country at the same time. I love the easy accessibility from Hong Kong's city centre to amazing trails and beaches. Being an outdoor person life quality in Hong Kong would not be the same for me without Hong Kong's warm climate and breathtaking nature.
MR: What is the difference of the fitness community between Hong Kong and Germany?
SB: German people love to be active and if the weather allows they prefer to do outdoor than indoor sports. They would rather walk or bike to a destination instead of taking the car or public transportation. Weekends are dedicated to hikes, runs, bike rides or other outdoor activities. Most German people do not have a gym membership but they are part of a club (so-called "Verein") . According to the German Sports Federation, 1 out of 3 Germans plays sports in a club.My impression is that the average German person is more active on a daily basis than the average Hong Kong person. However, the Hong Kong trail running community enjoys nature & outdoor activities just as much as the typical German. I am really grateful that I could connect to Hong Kong's amazing trail running community, enjoy running and yoga for runners sessions together!