I have a confession to make. I’ve been running pretty consistently for a long time now, and I pretty much never stretch after running. Well, I used to never stretch after a run. Now, I have to. Here’s my story.
I started running in 2010 (it seems like longer ago….) after losing about 50 pounds and deciding that I wanted to focus more on fitness (I started out focusing mainly on diet changes, which turned out to be a great way to lose weight). I did the Beachbody Insanity program from start to finish and after I was done, I thought I’d start running. I just…did it, starting out with walk/running and moving up to running consistently. I ran 3 miles non-stop for the first time one week before my very first 5k. I ended up finishing that hilly course in 30:05 and finishing third in my age group:
After that, I set my sights on doing a half marathon. Remember, I had only run 3 miles non-stop as of August, and the half marathon was in November. I immediately set about a training plan, during the hottest summer/fall that I’ve experienced in West Virginia. I was nervous, but I knew if I just paid the $50 entry fee, I’d have to run, so I did it. I finished that race in 2:15:45
After that race, I signed up for our local Turkey Trot and got my fastest 5k time ever. I’m planning on running it again this year, because I think after training for and running a half marathon, 5k’s seem like a breeze:
After the Turkey Trot in November of 2010, I took a big break from running and started focusing on other forms of exercise. I purchased a YMCA membership and got really into doing group fitness classes and weight training. I still ran here and there, but nothing like before.
In spring/summer of 2011, I signed up for a local 5k class which was sponsored by my Alma Mater (Marshall University). Once a week, we went through running and agility drills, which led up to the West Virginia 5k Championship (the largest 5k in the state). I set a PR in that race of 27:31:
I get side stitches sometimes because I forget to breathe, so that’s me in pain. Also, that guy in the gray shirt in front of me? Yeah, he beat me pushing a stroller. Sigh. After that 5k, I didn’t run another race for a while. I kind of felt like I had lost my running mojo. I had thought I would run the half-marathon again, but I just couldn’t get into a consistent training schedule. Zach and I had started dating around Halloween of the previous year, so I was focusing a lot of time on just falling in love :)
Fast forward to this spring. I decided that I wanted to start running again, in a big way. I had to push myself, but I started running consistently and signed up for the WV 5k Championship again. I focused on getting a PR, and ended up doing it — barely. I finished the 2012 WV 5k Championship in 27:28 — beating my previous time by 3 seconds. Hey, a PR is a PR, right? I’ve done a few other 5k’s here and there, but I’ve never run a 10k or a marathon. Someday, perhaps.
Now, we are about 3 weeks outside of the half-marathon and I’m in the same place I was 2 years ago. I’ve trained, I’ve paid my $50, and I’m hoping to just make it through. I’m faster than I was then, but I’m also not as healthy. Which brings me to the lesson I’ve learned since I’ve started training for races again:
Never, ever skip the post-run stretch.
I never stretched after I ran. Ever. I used to think I was super-human or something. My muscles were alway loose, and I always felt great. Well, after my re-introduction into the sport of competitive running, I’m feeling it. My hips are tight and sore. My hamstrings hurt after a run. It’s awful! I wonder if I had focused on a proper stretching regime when I started running if I’d be having these issues today? I guess I’ll never know. But here is what I do know: If you’re a runner, please focus on the stretch and strengthening your muscles as well as logging your miles. Trust me, you’ll thank me.
I’ve got to give a big old shout-out to Tri-State Racer, a local website that has all of the local races listed, links to the online registrations, and most importantly: A database of all the race results, dating back to 2000! I’d never know my race times without them. Thanks!
Question of the Day:
Be honest, do you ever skimp on your post-run stretch?