Stretching, Who Knew?

Sunday, after much avoidance, I got my butt out the door and did eight miles. The goal was eight miles or eighty minutes, whichever came second. As it is, they came at pretty much the same time. It was warmer but blustery and I took my time. I realized as I ran was that the weather was never going to be perfect, or at least rarely. I definitely preferred the wind to the freezing cold. A little sun would have been nice.

I never stretch before a run. If I run within an hour of first waking, I walk to warm up and then try to start with a slow run. If I have been up and cleaning, running up and down the steps I just go out the door and go. And most days after a run I just don’t have the time. I have read quite a bit about this, and have been under the impression that not only do I not have to stretch, it really isn’t recommended. The two former runners in my family totally disagree and just shake their heads at me.

For my entire running career, all ten months, this has pretty much worked for me. Sometimes I would put my leg on the step and stretch for about ten seconds but then I was done. I just don’t have the time.  Or the patience. However, since I have been upping my miles, I have noticed that my legs really hurt. This has caused a little bit of conundrum. I read that I need to strengthen the muscles that support my running and I just don’t have time (sensing a theme?) to run and do a strength work out on the same day, which means, obviously, I do strength on non-running days. I know this isn’t optimum, but it is how I can fit it in. Which means the muscles don’t get a lot of healing time. Something that I think might be important. Or maybe not. Some people run six days a week. I know, they are elite, but I’m just pointing out that it can be done.

Anyway, the last half mile of my long run on Sunday, I started to really fade. That’s an understatement. I felt as though my whole right side was just going wonky. I felt like a Disney short, where the robot’s parts just aren’t working the way they are suppose to. So while my left side persisted normally, my right side decided to get funky. It was a weird feeling to say the least. But I was so close to my goal, I just kept going. Five more minutes, four more minutes, I didn’t think I could do it. I started to talk myself through it. And then, my last resort, the count down. When I  feel as though I can go no further I count up to thirty or sixty with Mississippi’s. And for some reason it keeps me going. It gives my run a cadence. The caveat is that after the third round of counting it sort of loses its power. So I keep it for the very end of my runs. But it worked for me, and I felt a splash of life and my right side brought itself back. I finished. Hooray!

When I came home, the cramping in my legs that started a little after the seven mile mark had developed into quads that seemed to resist any movement whatsoever. They were stuck clenched and not letting go. So I went to my stretching mentors, also known as my husband and my son. My husband showed me how to sit with one leg bent back and the other stretched out forward and then lay back. It hurt like hell. Thirty seconds for each leg and then some calf stretches. Here is the shocking part. It worked! My legs were still sore. But I wasn’t in awful pain. Just normal tired, somewhat sore legs. Two days later I was sore as hell getting out of bed, but that’s another story. (Delay onset muscle soreness maybe?)

So, I guess I’ll add in more stretching.


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