Clayton Jordan III is an electrical engineer, disciplined marathon runner, and committed yoga student. Clayton has overcome foot injuries and grown tremendously as a yoga student and runner. In the two years I’ve known him, I’ve been so inspired by how he has added yoga to his running training and in awe of the consistent way he shows up to his practice that I asked him to share his story.
Clayton, when and how did you get into the sport of running?
It all started when I needed to have a serious foot surgery in 2008. The cause for the surgery, along with being flat-footed, were reasons why I accepted, believed and repeatedly told myself that I would never in my life be able to run because it would be too painful. However, I made a promise to myself that after I was recovered and healed from the surgery, I would start running.
Surgery went well, but I had some serious post-surgery complications where I had to keep my foot elevated above my head about 20 hours a day for 30 days. What was supposed to be a 4-6 week recover became over 4 months of recovery and rehab. During this time, I was not working and on disability leave. When I was finally able to go back to work on light-duty, “life” quickly happened, and I simply forgot about my running promise.
Fast-forward to July 2011. I was laid-off from my company of 10 years. I spent 8-10 hours a day searching and applying for jobs online. I was not generating the results I felt I should have. I became beyond frustrated and decided that I needed to get out of the house and walk to clear my head. There was a trail not too far from where I lived. As I was walking, I heard a familiar voice say, “…remember you said you would start running after you healed from your surgery?” Suffice it to say, it was my own voice. In the past, I would successfully ignore the voice and move on. This time I could not ignore it and finally said okay.
Here is where it gets good.
When I started “running” I could barely run 20 seconds before I was beyond winded and could not breathe. I would walk a while to catch my breath and then start to run again. Still in about 20 seconds, maybe less, I was back to walking again. I did this cycle on-and-off (run-walk-run-walk) as I barely made it around the trail, a 1.4-mile loop. Despite the challenges and the heat, I kept at it three days a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday). As I continued with the running-walking, I was able to exchange more walking for running.
I stuck with it and the day I was able to complete the full loop, non-stop was the BEST DAY OF MY LIFE!!! My next goal was to complete two laps, non-stop. After completing a lap, I would walk bit to catch my breath and then pick a mark and run a long as I could past the lap. I eventually built-up to completing two full laps, total of 2.8 miles. Naturally, the next goal was to complete three full laps and then four and more. I utilized the same strategy to increase my mileage distance over the weeks and months. Before long, I was running 8 to 10 miles a day, three times a week. I officially fell in love with running and have been running ever since.
What motivates you to lace up your shoes and get out there each time?
The opportunity to challenge myself physically as well as emotionally and spiritually. Running has become second nature to me. I rarely ever think about it. I must say that being part of a community of runners helps tremendously. I am a member of a few different Run Clubs/Groups. This is great accountability and a wonderful social outlet.
What has running taught you about your body and mind?
Running has taught me how to “listen” to my body. This was an idea and concept that was totally lost on me, until my running journey. Similarly, I can achieve more centeredness in my mind. With lots of training and coaching, I can successfully control the random chattiness of my mind with focused awareness and meditative breathing.
I find countless parallels between my running, training, races and life, in-general. Running has offered many opportunities to learn about myself and how I navigate my way through life.
When did you add yoga to your exercise program?
Spring 2017. My first time ever practicing Yoga was with Katie at, what I believe to the inaugural Yoga for Runners Class hosted at Fleet Feet San Diego, in Carmel Valley.
How has your yoga practice evolved?
My meditative breathing and focus had improved, considerably. I am able to achieve and maintain some of the more difficult poses that I could not before. I have been exposed to the idea that many of the poses in Yoga are “simulated stressful situations”. They way we get through them in Yoga (through meditative-breathing) is what we can use in real stressful situations in life.
What are the main benefits of adding yoga to your running routine?
Awareness in how my body works and moves
Stretching and keeping my muscle loose
Shortened recovery time from injuries
What does your typical training week look like?
Training Runs Monday, Wednesday, Thursday in the evening with local Run Clubs, with an average mileage of 5 to 7 miles.
Track Workouts on Tuesday evening.
Long Runs on Saturday mornings followed by Oceanview Yoga in Pacific Beach.
When I am training for a Marathon, I will add at least one additional day for a Recovery Run.
How do you recommend a runner who is interested in taking up yoga start?
I encourage any runner to add Yoga into their Training regimen. Come to Yoga for Runners at Fleet Feet. Why? Katie is a PT, Yoga Instructor and a Runner. The class focuses on areas and common injuries that most concern runners. She surveys the class to learn of what injuries they have, what they are training for or race, event, activity they just finished. Then she includes poses to address those areas.
Are there any other words of wisdom you can share with us?
No matter, what your current skill or talent level may be in any endeavor, commitment, discipline and determination will yield massive results over time. This is a bonus, I usually listen to audiobooks, podcasts or sermons when I run. There is no distraction. Running can be very monotonous and does not require much concentrated brain power. I have found that my creative side was yearning for something to do. I am not a fan of traditionally, book-reading, but found audiobooks a better solution. Where better to get educated, enlightened, learn, grow and be challenged than when I am running.