Following closely behind strength and endurance for triathletes is the ability to race with efficiency and economy. Every wasted motion is one that takes away from the reserves an athlete has for an event.
Yoga ties into triathlon training by offering an alternative form of exercise that helps build strength and endurance, while increasing efficiency and economy of movement at the same time.
"It's about core strength and flexibility," Rountree said. The benefits of yoga go beyond the physical. "Yoga can be added in at any point in an athlete's training," she said. "It's becoming more accepted as a training tool."
Closer to an event, when training really begins to ramp up, the athlete can lessen or even stop yoga. When the event is over, they can increase the amount of yoga to help keep the body flexible and whole.
There is a less direct, though no less tangible, connection between yoga and the mental side of training.
The yoga poses teach patience, breath control and allow an athlete to slow down and develop an awareness of their body. This awareness often translates into the ability to remain calm and collected in the face of diversity and intensity -- say, during the last mile of a grueling open-water swim." [Yoga helps you] see things as they are and focus so the mental chatter dies down," Rountree said.
The intensity of triathlon training often leads to burnout, both mental and physical. And this may be the best kept secret yet -- yoga reinvigorates an athlete and reestablishes a training balance. "Yoga is something you can do at home in just a few minutes a day," Rountree said. "Even just a little (fairly often) and you can see benefits."
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