I grew up a couch potato. Only in graduate school did I start to enjoy exercise. It made for good stress release as I completed my PhD in English literature, a pursuit that involves a whole lot of time sitting and reading. Running provided a yang to all the yin of my schoolwork, and I began to compete both in running races and in triathlons, eventually qualifying for (PB: 3:39:41) and running the Boston Marathon; representing Team USA at the Short-Course World Triathlon Age-Group Championships in 2008; and completing Ironman Coeur d’Alene in 2009. Being able to requalify for the Boston Marathon in the race itself was a career highlight, and probably marks the upper limit of my athletic ability. I’ve never been very fast, but I’m tenacious and self-possessed, two qualities that are really useful in endurance racing (and greatly enhanced by yoga practice).
At the start of this transformation from the couch to the Ironman finish line, I’d tried a few yoga classes, but I found them really hard, in part because I was always tired from workouts. Only in prenatal yoga did I discover the joys of a more gentle yoga practice. I signed up for teacher training during my second pregnancy, and very quickly focused on the niche of yoga for athletes, learning through personal experience how yoga complements athletic training. As part of my research for The Athlete’s Guide to Yoga, my first book, I completed a USA Triathlon coaching certification. That was followed by certifications from USA Cycling and the Road Runners’ Club of America, as well as a level-2 USAT certification and an internship at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. I spent almost ten years offering personal coaching to runners, cyclists, and triathletes, including some very fast masters athletes. I’ve coached my clients to successful finishes at the Leadville 100 mountain bike race, Ironman triathlons, duathlon and triathlon world championships, and 100-mile ultramarathons.
In 2012, on the cusp of turning 40, I celebrated by running the 40-mile Mount Mitchell Challenge, up and down the highest peak in the eastern continental United States. The next year, my best friend Francesca created her own 40-for-40 challenge, staging her own do-it-yourself ultramarathon. I joined her for 30 of those 40 miles, and was surprised at how wonderful that experience was. I joked that I would never do an official race again! In fact, I haven’t—between the joy of running without a clock and in support of a friend, and the release I felt by putting down all my best racing advice in a book (Racing Wisely—please buy it!), I feel like I’d finished the semicompetitive chapter of my sports career. Now I run—and run hard—with friends, with no intention of racing soon. We like to call our workouts all guts, no glory.
My work comprises many jobs: co-owning the Carolina Yoga Company, a group of three studios in central North Carolina; directing its teacher trainings; writing books (see and buy them here) and articles for magazines like Runner’s World and Yoga Journal. And several times a week, I have the joy of teaching athletes of all stripes, from weekend warriors to serious age groupers to groups like the University of North Carolina football and men’s basketball teams. In my classes and my writing, I stress finding balance: balance of the body in space; balance within the body; and, most importantly, balance between work and rest. I look forward to helping you find that balance here. Read more about me and my yoga background at sagerountree.com.