Hello and Happy Sunday! I usually love to go for an easy run on Sunday mornings, but after my first 8 mile run since December yesterday I think I could use a rest day. The good news is, I RAN 97 MILES IN JUNE! The old me would have been very tempted to make it 100, but now I’m the old me in a different way. I turn 40 in September (just reading it makes me cringe), so I can’t get away with the recklessness of youth. That means doing grown-up stuff, like warming up and stretching. Bleh.
As I’ve been getting back to being a full-time runner, I’m trying to be smart about all of the other things that go along with trying to be my best. We need to eat right (at least sometimes). We need to rest. We need to warm up and cool down. We need to stretch. Being a good runner isn’t just about running!
My Achilles injury was no picnic, but anything can be used in a positive manner. My PTs showed me so many things about myself that need improvement and they gave me a blueprint to get there. Physical therapy is often a lesson in humility. Weakness and flaws are found there. I have many.
My old warmups consisted of nothing for most runs and maybe a jog (pronounced “yog”, it’s a soft j) around the track a few times before speed work. On race day, I might have run an easy quarter to half mile. Times have changed.
My running buddy M.C. has a warmup routine that she’s done for years. She does the same one every time I’ve run with her. If we ask her nicely, maybe she’ll put out a tutorial. 🙂
Now I do some of what they call “dynamic stretching” (here’s an intro from Runner’s World . It’s a great way to get the blood flowing while loosening up and it can be done pretty quickly. I’ve definitely noticed improvement in my range of motion on these and that has to be a good thing. Thanks Rebecca and Rachelle!
On race day or higher intensity training days, I’ll certainly continue to run a warmup before hitting the hard paces.
I’m an awful stretcher. Awful. It’s really sad to see my lack of flexibility. I used to get away with it, but realize that those days are gone. When I’m running and doing other stuff all week, if I neglect my stretching I can feel myself getting tighter and tighter. Since I have a scar to prove that I’m not invincible, I know that I just can’t operate that way.
I’m sticking to pretty basic stuff that takes 5-10 minutes. I focus a lot on my calves, since that’s the source of my former injury. Did you know that there are TWO parts to a calf that require separate stretches? Most of us do stretch the gastrocnemius muscle and that’s all fine and dandy, but there’s another part of the calf called the soleus that must not be neglected. I’ll leave you to google how to stretch these.
Unlike Shakira, my hips DO lie. Much of my tightness and soreness revolves around my hips. The awesome combo of sitting in an office chair all day and pounding the pavement for 800-1,000 miles a year does a number on me. I’ve managed to get by without doing a lot for them, but physical therapy gave me a pretty good wake up call. If I had to recommend just one stretch, it would without a doubt be the pigeon pose. My pigeon is horrible to look at, but it’s getting better. There are many variations for total beginners (like me) to human pretzels. I suggest you give it a try.
Newsflash: Sleep is important. Most of us don’t get enough. I can’t speak for all of you, but when I DO get some good sleep, I remember HOW MUCH I LOVE SLEEP. I’m going to try and average 7 hours a night. We’ll see how it goes.
As far as nutrition goes, I will never be good at nutrition. My goal is to not be really really bad at it. I believe in being the best runner that I can be while not hating my life, so that means when I see a good donut, I eat a good donut. I’m just going to try not to eat 3 good donuts. Everything in moderation, they say.
I always found it so interesting that so many runners will tell you that they LOVE running and really couldn’t imagine life without it, yet those same runners will neglect so many aspects of their lives that impact their recovery and performance.
I would work so hard at the track or on my long runs and then not take the time to ice or stretch my tired muscles, or get a good night’s sleep as opposed to putting some beers down and staying up too late. This was even the case when I was training to qualify for Boston, which I supposedly wanted so badly.
My injury has given me some clarity. Let’s hope it sticks. I have a race this Wednesday and depending on how I feel, I might just race it. For real. Wish me luck.