How do you stretch pre- and post-run? Are there specific exercises you do, for a certain length of time, etc.?
This is an appropriate question for this week because I'm preparing to run another 5K race on Saturday. After running a half-marathon in April, there was serious let down in the days and weeks following. I was floundering and in need of a new goal so I decided to squeeze in a 5K before the intense heat of summer sets in. I'm hoping I've maintained enough of the fitness I built up to run the half and that it will propel me into a new personal record for the 5K distance.
As far as stretching goes, I probably earn a big fat F for fail. I've read that it is damaging to stretch cold muscles. If muscles have not started to move and warm up, stretching them can do more harm that good so instead of stretching before I hit the pavement, I warm up by starting most runs at a gentle, slow pace. I pay attention to how my legs feel and gradually increase the pace as I loosen up.
Okay. So maybe my warm-up routine is acceptable, but I really fail the post-run stretching test. By the time I'm done a run, my muscles are warm and would benefit from stretching, but I rarely (read: once or twice ever) take time to do any type of stretching routine. This is what I do instead. When I stop running and slow to a walk, I do not stop moving for at least 10 minutes. I walk up my driveway. I walk a few laps around the deck. I walk around inside the house while I find a snack, talk to the kids, start a load of laundry. Even more importantly, I am careful not to sit down. Sitting or ceasing movement too quickly after exercise can cause blood to pool in the legs and cause cramping and general discomfort.
How do you stay active? Do you walk, run, work out at the gym, play a sport, or run and play with your kids?
My How Do You...? series is back for a few more weeks. Is there anything you want to know? If you have any other running related questions, I'd love to talk more about it! Leave a comment here or on my Facebook page or send me an e-mail. I'd love to hear from you.
In the meantime, you can browse the archived index of past topics.