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11/05/2009, 05:18 PM

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Canadian Running: The Raw Truth

By Brian Lusczki
By Stephanie Dickison

Trish Stratus has changed a lot from her days as a WWE Wrestler back in the early 2000s. Most obviously, she's a brunette now, not a blonde. And as the owner of Stratusphere Yoga Studio in Vaughan, Ont., the seven-time WWE Women's Champion has traded in chops, "chick kicks," and stratusfaction bulldogs for downward facing dogs, pigeon and tree poses. When Stratus isn't doing yoga, she has also found a new love of running. We had a bunch of questions to ask her, but she managed to answer them all at once. Must be the running – and the yoga.

What got you into running?
I was asked to be part of a charity triathlon event where they would have different celebrities do each part of the race, I was asked to do the running portion. So the fact that I had to train towards something was motivation for me to give running a try – something that I had always wanted to do but never had the chance – or maybe the reason to do. When I was wrestling with 300 days on the road, we had limited time to work out. so when I was approached to do this charity event, I thought, 'What a great opportunity and a challenge for me.' OK, so here I am a non-runner and I'm going to do a triathlon. Well, a part of it, anyway.

I was excited to try a new approach to my training. I had done the weight training thing with the fitness modelling, and during wrestling I had done mostly cross training with weights and cardio – but never more than 45 minutes on a treadmill. I began yoga by means of rehabilitation for a herniated disk I had suffered in the ring, and that was really all I was doing training-wise since I had retired from wrestling in September 2006. The race was six months away, so I got a trainer assigned to me. I began working with Steven Bentley and when I started running, I've gotta say, I thought it was going to come easier than it did. In fact, in the beginning it didn't come at all and I started to think, 'I'm just not a runner. I just can't do this.' And I was really mad at myself because here I am a professional athlete and I can't run – oh my god.

And then it just came, it just started to happen. It was pretty interesting how the whole 'I can't do this' turned into 'I can do this,' and realizing that I was starting to get the kilometres up and not feeling the shin splints. I got so into it, I was reading up all the running magazines and eating like a runner. It's amazing how it's an entire shift in a fitness regimen.

At this point, I was also deep into my yoga practice and about to pursue a teacher's training program, but just before I started that, I went on a week-long yoga retreat where I'd be studying yoga and practising twice daily. But, since I was still preparing for the race I didn't want to let my training get off track. So, I would do my yoga in the morning, go for a 10k run and then do my evening yoga session. It was here that I realized that the two – yoga and running – were actually a great complement, whereas I thought a shift would have to happen; you'd either have to be a runner or a yogi.

So I continued running and when I finally did my first 21k, I remember finishing and thinking, 'I can't believe I'm not sore.' And I think a really a big part of why I wasn't sore and a huge factor with my recovery was the yoga. I think a lot of people miss out on the stretching that they should be doing even though you always read how important it is. People take it for granted what it can do for your running – the increase in agility.

The other thing that the yoga helped me with and why I think I adapted so quickly was the breath work. It's amazing how once you nail your breathing down, you can channel your energy in an amazing way. I felt like I could enter into the runner's "zone" before I even began running and I think that was a turning point for me. That's what I'd learned through yoga.

Trish Stratus can be found running on trails near her yoga studio in Vaughan, Ont. (


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