Sage advice: Tune into your breathing

The athlete:
Sage Rountree

Running résumé:
Internationally acclaimed endurance coach Sage Rountree helps athletes leverage yoga for peak athletic performance. A marathoner, mom and regular Runner's World contributor, Rountree's upcoming book, "The Runner's Guide to Yoga: A Practical Approach to Building Strength and Flexibility for Better Running" offers tips and techniques for om-ing your way to a personal best.

Sage advice:
Hit the mat. By boosting strength and flexibility, yoga protects runners from the wear and tear of months of training, helping to make sure your stride stays fluid, energetic and injury-free. Better yet, because the poses demands calm and presence of mind in stressful situations, they make the perfect mental prep for distances that push you outside your comfort zone. Whether or not you're a downward dog regular, aim to squeeze in a session or two before the big day, then put the mental strategies to work in your regular training. During each run, take a few minutes to find your ideal pace and then tune into your breathing, noting which foot hits the ground with each inhale and exhale, the number of footfalls in between and anything else that serves to sync your breath and stride. The exercise will give you a sense of control should race-day jitters or the pull of the crowd throw you off your game. Keep your belly engaged, breath smooth and mellow your way right to the finish line.

Cheer Sage on via Twitter @espnW: #runSAGE.

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