Fanni gyrko

You recently came 2nd in the female runners in the Manchester Marathon – well done!! Finishing in the top 10 of your events is 'normal' for you as you are a competitive athlete. In the last 20 months you've been doing hot yoga and TRX, alongside your running and competing. You've managed 217 visits to HEAT, 81 x 1 hour hot yoga classes, 101 x 90 min hot yoga classes and 35 TRX sessions – great effort! 

Why did you come to your first class? 

I’m not good at stretching and strength training on my own, and I thought that the only way to improve is to find an exercise which is engaging. I find circuit training and Pilates boring, but the worst was when I tried to do any strength training at home. I tried to listen to music or watch TV as a distraction, but it mostly distracted me from doing the exercises properly. Of course I read that many runners do yoga or just implement yoga exercises into their training, but I didn’t know what to expect.  I just thought I would give it a go

How did you feel after your first visit to hot yoga?  

I was very happy, because I didn’t feel bored at all and I got a lot of physical and mental benefits.  I could keep myself present during the whole 90 minutes, because I was just focusing on how to do the poses. It was a 90min Bikram class. I really liked how the Bikram sequence is set up, so that each pose prepares you for the next one: you feel like you are moving forward, not just doing one posture, randomly following with any other random posture

How does hot yoga fit in with your running? 

I do yoga 2-3 times a week, it keeps me injury free. My favourite class in on a Sunday afternoon, after my long run. I always feel very tired and beaten going into the yoga room, and I come out feeling recovered.

What are the benefits, both physically and mentally of hot yoga for you personally?

I had many structural imbalances due to previous injuries and I was often getting the same injuries and pain. These imbalances were very visible in the yoga room; I could see them in the mirror when I was doing the poses. I think they are less distinct now, so I don’t get injured. Also, it has helped with my posture in general and to strengthen my core. I think it also helps me focus and listen to my body.

I really like the fact that the instructors always say that it’s not a competition. I am competitive person and I like to compare myself with other people, but I don’t feel that pressure in the yoga room.  I just do what I can do on the day, and I don’t try to push myself too hard. Now I feel that I can do the same when I am competing in the marathon. I just listen to my body and do whatever I can do on the day. And if I did my best on the day, then I can be satisfied with myself and the result, whatever it is, which is much better than trying too hard and getting injured or giving up the race.

Why did you start doing TRX? 

I started TRX because I wanted to develop some upper body strength. I was especially weak in my arms. It also seemed fun and I liked the idea that we are using our own body weight.

What are benefits of TRX for your sport and for you personally? 

TRX helped me improved my running style, especially using my arms in a more efficient way. I always had strong leg muscles, so I don’t feel that much benefit in my legs, but I understand that TRX can help you to be more explosive, which is good for uphill running.

Do you think yoga is important for runners? If so, why?

It is important for me as a runner, because it keeps me injury free. I think many runners think that they are really inflexible, and they couldn’t do any of the poses or they would get injured trying to do them. It is important to understand that yoga is a complementary training if you are a runner and use it that way. It’s a really good way to move the muscles rather than pounding on them. It substitutes several massage sessions, and it’s cheaper.  Also, you can get mental benefits and improve your training and racing if you can make that body-mind connection.

How much running do you do each week? 

I do between 80 and 100 miles each week. I try to do 2 faster sessions, a competition-speed run or a race and a long run. But I do lots of easy running for warm up, cool down and recovery.

What other events do you have this year? Goals or plans? 

I will run another marathon in the autumn. I want to run a personal best. I will do some shorter races as well, like half- marathons and 10km races as preparation.

Would you recommend hot yoga and/or TRX to others and if so, why? 

Yes, yoga and TRX helps to develop strength and flexibility.  It’s also so much cheaper than having structural imbalances or weak core muscles in the body and visiting the physio every month.  Yoga is also a great way to reduce stress.  I find it really nice that I can concentrate for 90 minutes just on the poses and let everything else go.  It really is an open-eye meditation, but you are exercising at the same time, which is great. I have never regretted going to a yoga class, even if like everyone else, I had hundred other things to do.