stretch

Stretching, Part 1

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This week I wanted to discuss a question I believe a lot runners debate about. Stretching. And more specifically:

When should you stretch?

Before? After? Mid-run? Never? (Not good!)

Image
By Ed Yourdon (Flickr: Summer’s end in NYC, Sep 2009 – 02) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Back when I ran track in high school, each time my team got a new coach, he or she had a different idea of at what point in practice we should stretch. One favored stretching before our run. Another preferred stretching during our run. The last coach I ran for preferred having us run a half mile to a mile, stretch, and then begin our actual run. One thing they all believed in was stretching afterwards. Very important! It helps prevent soreness, speeds muscle recovery, and may help prevent injury. Although, I am guilty of skipping that part sometimes.

Today, I prefer to stretch after I’ve ran about a mile. Then, I just continue my run. It gives my muscles a chance to warm up. Ever since I switched to this method, I have felt stronger during my runs.

Now, since I am not a professional, I cannot tell you definitively when is the perfect time to run. I actually don’t think anyone can. Research on this matter is constantly changing. What I will say, is to try to figure out what works for you. Experiment a bit with the timing of your stretching- see what feels right and commit!

What do you all think, when is the next time to stretch? Comment below and let me know.

Mix It Up!

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As you know, I’ve been some foot pain recently and it has been keeping me from running as much as I want to. Over the last week I’ve only ran one mile. I don’t know when my foot will feel better, but I know I have to do something in the meantime. So, I thought this would be a good time to talk about cross training.

Cross training means incorporating other types of workouts into your routine. For runners, cross training could be a means to strengthen the upper half of their bodies. Or it could be a way to avoid injuries. Cross training could even help improve speed and endurance.

Here are my suggestions:

Cycling: Cycling can help increase speed while giving your legs good workout. It’s not a weight bearing exercise, making it ideal for runners. Road cycling allows to you incorporate speed work, distance, and hills.

Yoga: I firmly believe that all athletes (and probably all people) should try yoga. However, runners in particular put a lot of strain on their bodies due to the high impact nature of running. Yoga is known for increases flexibility and range of motion. Yoga also increases blood circulation, which can help with recovery.

Weight/resistance training: Strong muscles help protect your bones. The right workout can help strengthen your entire body. Definitely my least favorite option, but that’s just me.

Swimming: Gives you a total body workout while giving your bones and joints a break. Swimming also does wonders for your endurance! It’s what I’ve been doing since my foot has been bothering me.