back to the grindstone//stretching

This last 2 weeks we’ve been on vacation to visit my family and the first week completely derailed my training, hitting me pretty hard. Maybe more mentally than physically. At first I didn’t want to run because I didn’t know my surroundings well and there were very real possibilities of bear danger where we were. Jellystone National Park. Once we got back my folk’s home we spent the first 2 days back recovering from the 4+12 hours of driving over the last couple days. Admitting to myself that it’d been almost a week since I ran last was a large pill to swallow! It was devastating realizing I’d stuck to it so well for almost 3 months, felt great, and now dropped the ball so far. Lost so much momentum. Wallowed for days! The second week I got back to it! It’s gorgeous where I grew up! Sunny, warm and still completely green from almost year-round moisture! Mornings, when I try to get out for my runs, are absolutely stunning! Running along the park path my folks live by, with the sound of streams crossing to join the Willamette river below.

I focused this week on the schedule and got in a good threshold run, an excellent hill workout, enjoyed beautiful slow runs on all the other days and on those easy days made sure to get in quality strength work. I was feeling great! Focused and refreshed!

Stretching is an easy component to overlook, but it is vital. I’ve made it a pretty solid habit to do a super easy warm-up mile before every workout and after that mile do a very thorough stretching routine. Since my body is sufficiently warmed from the first mile I can do thorough static stretching of all my major muscles. I spend 30 seconds to a minute on each, trying to tune into my body and pay attention to when the muscle releases.

I start out with my calves since I think they’re the tightest on me. I do my gastroc first with leg straight, foot up against a post of some kind, then bend the knee to get a little deeper into the soleus.

Next I work my hamstrings. Knees locked I reach down, face facing my legs. My hands only reach about half way down my shins. It’s so shameful, but after a while here I bend a bit at the knee and rotate my sit bones up even higher to really get a good deep stretch in my hammies. This is by far my favorite stretch.

Quads and hip flexors next I bring my foot into my hand and rotate my hips to get my quads good. Hip flexors in a sort of pre-kneeling position rotating the hips again here to feel it on the front of my hips.

Adductors next (inner thigh). This is a great one too. I squat down, heels together, hands on ankles, elbows on knees and push them apart.

Then I do my IT band.. hard to explain, but I put one leg behind the other and push my hip out to the side the back leg is. This one’s great for ‘runner’s knee’ because it loosens the tight muscle on the outside of your hip that attaches to the little bump on your lower knee.

After all this I do a quick dynamic sequence where I swing my legs front and back then side to side just to make sure my hips are really ready for the workout, then I’m off! And I always feel better after that warmup and stretch! I try to remember to do a thorough stretching after my workout too, but this one tends to get neglected from time to time as I’m usually coming home to a clingy baby or rushing off to work. What stretched so you like to do that I’ve missed!? I’d love to hear! Thanks for reading and keep putting one foot in front of the other. 👋

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