Running Confession: I Was Over-Stretching
You know you’re running in South Florida when your elevation chart looks like this:
I think that little blip at the beginning might be my Garmin actually registering a speed bump!! Hah!
(Just FYI I ran more than 2.5 miles last night but my Garmin decided not to connect to the satellites for the first part of my run! So annoying!)
I just recently discovered a new super flat route and I love it, although it’s not exactly that much flatter than my normal route. Everything is pretty pancake like in these parts. Actually, a pancake with blueberries is probably more hilly than my normal running routes.
Oh man, my legs are gonna have a good time with the couple of “gentle” hills in Portland.
… I have no idea what a “gentle” hill even is…
When I Google image searched it the results varied widely (and scared me):
I hope my daily run up over the bridge (obviously not reflected in the elevation chart above) helps!
One thing that has definitely been helping me lately is a DECREASE in stretching.
About a week ago I watched THIS VIDEO by elite ultrarunner Sage Canaday (also the youngest to ever qualify for the Olympics in the marathon). In the video Sage talks about his post-run recovery routine, which includes about five minutes of light stretching.
As I was scrolling through the comments I saw this:
That comment really caught my eye because for a few weeks my right hip and calves were really tight. I have always had a post-run stretching routine that focuses on the hip-flexors and calves. As the two areas started feeling tighter I started holding the stretches longer. Despite the longer stretches my calves in particular never felt any looser.
For a while I would have to stop about a 1/2 mile into every run to stretch because my calves felt so tight I thought the skin would literally just rip in half and all of the muscles and tendons would pop out onto the ground next to me!
After seeing Sage’s comment and doing some research on over-stretching I realized I was probably causing extra problems by stretching more and holding the stretches longer.
Research out of MIT says that when you stretch you should feel some discomfort but not a burning sensation.
Well, when I was stretching my calves I felt burning, but I thought it was just because they were so tight. I thought I needed to stretch them more to get rid of the burning. I’m obviously not a doctor or a personal trainer or a running coach, but I’m pretty sure I was wrong.
I likely should have asked my coach about it to begin with, but you know I always think I know everything! : )
Anyway, for about a week now I’ve gone back to only holding the stretches for about 30 seconds each instead of ~2 minutes and my hips and calves feel great! I think the muscles have finally recovered from all the little extra micro-tears I subjected them to!
While I was doing my research on over-stretching I definitely found differing opinions. I’d love to hear what has worked best for you.
Do you stretch after every run? Or just a couple times per week?
Do you do dynamic stretches before you run or just static stretches after?
How long do you hold your stretches for?