Saturday, January 9, 2010
Be The Rubber Man
I have been doing some reading and have found a number of different options on the topic of stretching. Some people say don't worry about it and others say you must take the time to stretch. I am going to take the advice of those who say stretch, because I have personally felt the effects of not stretching. Stretching for triathletes is extremely important and necessary because of the way we treat our bodies. When we swim, bike or run our muscles expand and contract over and over again in the same way. This creates tension and to add to that, most of the time you are not fully extending so you are pulling that tension in. When I think of how flexibility will make me fast I always think of a runner I saw coming towards me in an out and back 5 mile race. This guy was absolutely TRUCKING. Each one of his steps was so much longer than mine even though his legs were shorter.
This year the number one goal is to stay healthy. If you are healthy you can train and be better prepared for each race. Last year I didn't stretch enough and end up with some lower back problems and the year before that I had some hip problems. I always experienced these problems in the late winter or early spring when the training really started to ramp up. The reason most of us including me don't take the extra time to stretch is because we don't think we have the time. I know when it is time to put in a long work out I am thinking to myself that it is time to go because I have a number of other responsibilities on my plate. You know what I am talking about. You have to work, take care of our families, cut the grass, trim the shrubs or fix the pipe that just burst under the sink.
I almost injured myself last week. Manuel and I put in four long runs and I increased my weekly distance by much more than 10% and as a result my knee hurt for a few days. Fortunately I did a lot of stretching and I think I have avoided an injury that would keep me from training.
What I find works the best for me is taking 15-20 extra minutes to put on my iPod and use the time to relax and stretch out before I start my work out. I also put in some extra time while I am on the floor playing with my one year old daughter. Some times she does bring a challenging element to stretching by climbing on my face or pulling on the limb I am trying to stretch out but it is better than doing nothing at all.