Archive for the ‘Stretching’ Category

Training for a Marathon? Here are 5 common issues endurance runners come across, and simple ways to avoid them.

1. Sour Stomach

This is one of the most common issues that can happen on a long run or any run for that matter. Stomach discomfort can be prevented by paying attention to your diet. The night before a long run, eat a meal that is 40% Fat/30% Protein/30% Carbohydrate. Be sure not to eat too late at night as well. The next morning eat a breakfast with the same proportions and give yourself at least one hour to digest before you head out to run.

Quick Fix: Take a break and hit the nearest gas station. Most places are good about letting runners use their bathrooms.

2. Cramping

Runners can be prone to cramping in their stomach and/or legs. Take these three precautions to prevent cramps.

  • The day before your run drink plenty of water and limit drinks that cause dehydration (coffee, soda, alcohol).
  • Use a foam roller daily to help work out any tightness in your legs.
  • Get a massage every couple of weeks

Quick Fix: Slowly come to a stop and stretch until you feel relief in the tight area. Start back again at a slower pace and try to calm your breathing.

3. Boredom

Running the same streets every week can get tedious. Make sure you switch up your running routes so you don’t get bored. Use a running website to map out your runs such as Step out of your comfort zone and try a new path, the variety will keep you awake and engaged in your run.

Quick Fix: Take your mind somewhere else. Visualize crossing the finish line at your race or make a to-do list for your week. Some of your best ideas can come to you during a run.

4. Low Energy Level/Dizziness

Poor fueling will cause you to have a low energy level and this will effect how your run goes. Depending on the length of your run, using Gu can be very beneficial for your energy. Use one Gu packet every 40-45:00 for the most efficient results. If you wait until you’re feeling tired then it’s already too late to get the most benefits out of your Gu. Also, be sure to get enough sleep the night before your long run.

Quick Fix: Stop at the nearest convenient store and pick up something with sugar. If they don’t have Gu, grab some sport jelly beans.

5. Wardrobe Malfunction

Comfortable clothing is key when you’re hitting the streets for hours at a time. If you are uncomfortably dressed, that is bound to be a distraction. Avoid discomfort caused by clothing by trying your running outfit on a shorter run like 3-5 miles. It’s too hard to tell how your clothes will feel during a run by just trying them on in a store. Make sure you to test it out before your longer runs.

Quick Fix: If you’re stuck with multiple layers that are causing discomfort, shed something. You can always drive back and pick up the clothing item(s) you dropped.

Long runs are the time to work out these kinks that can happen on race day. If you experience one of these running issues, pay attention to what you did leading up to your long run. Learn from your mistakes and you will be much better off on the day of your event.

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I couldn’t help but think of my Physical Education students when I read the Times Article “Skip the Stretch Before Running — It Doesn’t Prevent Injuries”¹ The article states that through a recent study, static stretching before a run did not decrease your chance in injury. I spent the first 3 months of my P.E. Teaching career explaining this concept to my students, especially the older ones.

The children that I teach had been use to their routine of coming into the gym, performing static stretches, running laps and then starting the lesson plan for the day. For me to change their routine took a lot of explaining and I still believe they’re not all convinced.

I used the analogy of comparing your muscles to a rubber band. If you’ve ever seen a cold elastic band, what happens when you try to stretch it? The rubber band breaks. When you have a warm rubber band, it stretches very easily.

In my classes, I always start with a warm up, but I never have them perform static stretching at the beginning of class. My students start with a walk/light jog, followed by dynamic stretching and then some additional static stretches before we begin our lesson plan. This prevents injury and gets their muscles prepared for the sport/exercise they are about to partake in. However, at least once a month I will still have a hand raised with the question “why don’t we stretch first?”

As a runner, I agree with the Times Article for myself and for the way I work with my clients and Physical Education classes. I always start with a proper general warm up before exercise. I use static stretching at the end of a session for a cool down and in an effort to prevent any cramping or tightening of the muscles after exercise.

Here is an example of a dynamic warm up that I use with my Physical Education Class.

  • 100Ft. of Toy Soldiers; Take one step, lift the opposite leg as high as it will comfortably go and touch the knee of that leg. Repeat on opposite side
  • 100Ft. of Cherry Pickers; High skip while reaching one hand in the air
  • 100Ft. of Caterpillar; Bend at the waist and walk your hands out to a plank position. Then walk your feet into meet your hands, while keeping only a slight bend in your knees. Walk your hands back out and then your feet in again to meet your hands.
  • 100Ft. Back Shuffle; Step backwards staying on the balls of your feet. Look behind you to make sure you don’t crash into anything.

Repeat all exercises

This warm up will raise your core temperature and improve your flexibility at the same time. For an extra stretch you can perform some static stretches afterward, although it is not necessary.

¹Skip the Stretch Before Running — It Doesn’t Prevent Injuries By Alice Park Friday, February 18, 2011, Time Healthland

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