Taking a few minutes now will save you in the "long run"

Tomorrow starts day 1 of my training for the Race 4 Freedom. With that being the case, I think a good topic to bring up is something essential to your success as a runner, yet most occasional runners never do it – Stretching. Runners can be divided into two main categories, well more like three categories: Those who never stretch, those who only stretch after, and those who stretch before and after a workout.

Let’s talk a little about the first group. Now if you found yourself reading the sentence above and felt like raising your hand or ducking your head as I brought up never stretching; then you are likely not alone. When I was younger, I thought stretching was a waste of time, until a trainer tried to stretch my hamstrings and couldn’t get my leg past 60 degrees (which is pretty sad for an 18 year old). It was only after I started to implement a stretching routine, that I began to realize the importance of stretching and seeing the effect it can have. For those of you who can barely touch your knees bending over, I am not asking you to pick up yoga (although extremely helpful and a great for injury prevention) or expecting you to touch your toes immediately. Through out this blog you will see that success for me comes in a shifting of my mentality. If you find yourself constantly sore for days or limping after a single run or if you want to push yourself to the next level, and you aren’t stretching; well then my suggestion is to find someway to fit those few precious moments into your exercise schedule.

Now for the other two groups there is always plenty of debate about whether or not it is necessary for you to stretch before a work out or if you do more damage to your muscles by stretching them cold. The one thing everyone who stretches agrees on is that you need to stretch after any kind of intense physical activity. Why? Well every time your muscle contracts, it shortens ever so slightly. After an extended period of time those contractions cause the muscle to cut off blood flow to the tissue. Without getting too in depth, stretching increases blood flow to the tissues after the activity and reduces soreness and damage. So stretch to stay healthy and pain free!

My personal opinion on the stretching before or after comes down to the length of time I am about to work out or how I feel. My suggestion for you is to find some place to put stretching into your routine. Whether you need to stretch before and after, or only after to feel better – stretching will help you to stay healthy and active during your entire training program.

I hope you will continue to follow me on my journey training for a few races coming up this fall and that you will join me on September 12th, 2015 at the Race 4 Freedom. If you are interested you can sign up at www.race4freedom.com. You can donate to ICT S.O.S. at www.runsignup.com/runningdadbrad or create your own fundraising page when you register. Also please check me out on Twitter for daily posts and tips @runningdadbrad. Tweet me this week with your questions about stretching. I look forward to hearing from you!