scroll down for more information on my gift to you.
In the final kilometers of the Patagonian International 63km Marathon I realized that the remainder of my 2013 calendar, after reaching this finish line, was clear of any running related events. No races, no FKT attempts, no real training runs. Just open. In the same moment I smiled in spite of my shortened stride caused by the extreme tightness in my hamstrings. I was going to leave my calendar free. It was time for a break. Immediately the justifications rattled through my brain. I’ve been racing since April 2012. I thought I was done after UTMF, but kept going. I feel like I’m on the brink of injury. I’m physically tired from all of the traveling. I just want to. That last justification was the only reason I really I needed. Honoring that ‘want’ always brings back the psyche.
Even with time off, I realize that injuries are not going to heal themselves and while my tight hammies never stopped me from running, they certainly haven’t done me any favors. So this winter my goals are to improve strength and flexibility.
Focusing on strength is not new for me. In fact I do try to maintain time in the gym doing resistance training throughout the year. It might seem weird that I enjoy gym time which is completely counter to trails through the mountains, but it is my belief that training in the gym helps me to better enjoy the rest of the activities I love. Typically while “in season” the majority of time is spent running and I am only likely to get in one day of strength training a week. So in the off-season it seems like a good time to put a bit more focus on strength workouts. I think it is a good idea to help keep balance in the body by working on other supporting muscles that aren’t as developed by the running motion.
Examples: One-legged squats on the Bosu ball. Warrior three with dumbbell. Stabilizers. One-legged bicep curls to shoulder press. Lunges. Diagonal lunges. Dead lift. Burpees. Push-ups. Crunches. Leg throw downs. Jane Fondas – three directions. Box step ups with barbell. Speed jumps (although I definitely lack in the speed department) And whatever other drills my workout buddy might have for me. I’ll try!
Cranky Butt. That is what it has been called since I first found myself running these long distances. Idols that I looked up to warned me about it. Long runs followed by sitting, typically driving home from the trailhead, caused the tightness below the glute, right at the hamstring attachment. We would sit on golf balls in an effort to alleviate the tightness and to this day I have a little massage ball in my glove box for that very purpose. This tightness builds and in addition to pain causes other problems. It was recently brought to my attention (in addition to my hamstrings screaming at me every stride) by my massage therapist and PT friend that my flexibility needs a lot of improvement. Typically when laying on your back with one leg pressed into the floor and the other raised straight into the air a female should be able to reach 120 degrees from the ground. A male should be about 90 degrees. My raised leg on either side can barely reach 90 degrees, and that is with huge effort and trust that my hamstring will (hopefully) not pull out of my glute. Yoga classes help and I try to make at least two classes a week. But with this obvious deficiency I feel that it is time to bring out the Stretch Band!
This is where the BIRTHDAY GIVEAWAY comes in. I am not shy about birthdays and in fact love celebrating mine and everyone else’s when given the chance. This year I turn 36. Sorry to those of you that still have me locked in at 20something. I have definitely grown up in this sport and now find myself creeping up in the age groups and noticing the difference in my recovery times. But that aside, it is a birthday! And to celebrate Pro-Tec decided to help me celebrate by giving away my current favorite piece of equipment, The Stretch Band.
Pro-Tec’s motto is Injury Be Gone and the products that they make serve exactly that purpose. While visiting Pro-Tec this summer the owner gave me a prototype of the new Stretch band. Admittedly I should have put it to use right away as I was amidst my travels and driving many miles. The brightly colored fabric band has a great level of resistance, loops for your feet and some textured rubber grips to make your foot stick, making the whole process a bit smoother that dealing with a rubber tube or leather belt. I believe this aid is going to lead me to healthier running in the future and I would like to share this product with some of you. So we came up with a giveaway – my birthday present to you.
1) First, go LIKE the Pro-Tec Athletics Facebook page.
2) Then be sure to post a comment on the Pro-Tec Wall. You must include the words “birthday” and “flexibility” in your post to be eligible.
3) Six winners will be announced on Monday, October 28. (yes, that is my birthday)
And if you are wondering a bit more… Injury is an opportunity to learn… Here are a few more thoughts on flexibility.
Active Muscle Flexibility and range of motion are directly correlated. In order to maximize force production for running, muscle flexibility and range of motion should exceed the length and angles necessary for the task of running. Think about running a flat open road. Then about jumping up over log. You might have the range of motion (ultra shuffle??) necessary to keep your turn over and stride through on the road. But when you jump over a log your knee now needs to come up through a higher range of motion and if the muscles are too tight, or already maxed out on their flexibility, the strength necessary to easily pull your leg over the log with the same strength as cruising down the road could be compromised by a lack of flexibility. In order to maximize our force production improving range of motion/flexibility. Otherwise we are simply fighting against our selves.
Active Isolated Stretching stands out in my mind as the best way to make improvements on flexibility. My opinion is purely from experience. When I take the time to go through the recommended motions I see results. This is the biggest piece to my flexibility plan, using the Stretch Band of course to help. **I did a quick google search and like this explanation of AIS.
Happy Birthday to me! I hope you win the gift.
Also, please feel free to share your winter training goals on my Facebook Page.