Sunday, March 17, 2013

Flexibility...where have you gone?

"Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true" 

When it comes to mental flexibility, I have no problem...I adapt well and do not have a rigid personality. However, when it comes to physical flexibility, that's a whole other story. In fact, the stronger I feel when I run, the less flexible I become. During my yoga class last Friday, we had to stand facing the wall, raise our leg at a 90 degree angle and place it against the wall. Then, if we "could" we had to reach forward and touch our toes on the foot that was against the wall. I had to use the strap to hold my foot up, because I was unable to raise my leg more than about a foot off the ground, and it wouldn't stay up by itself. I looked around the room and noticed that EVERYONE else could do it...even the few, not so flexible men in our group! I've been doing yoga once a week, almost continuously, for the past four years, and when I do my strength workout, I end it with some stretching. But, that's it and it doesn't seem to be enough. I left yoga Friday determined to improve my flexibility!

Yesterday evening, as I'm stretching on my bed, I am reading a book on running for women (it's in French, from Québec, and it came out last week - so all information is recent). So, I'm reading this book and I come across a section that answers different questions, one of which is, "Should I stretch before or after running?" The answer was "No." Warming up is encouraged, but not stretching, even after a run. According to Guy Thibault (expert), "We recently learned that when we stretch a muscle, it even slightly loses some of its strength." However, they suggest stretching when coming back to running after an injury. Now I'm confused! Intuitively, I still feel that working on my stretching will be a good thing (I mean I'm not an elite runner, the difference in my strength is surely not going to show)...but I'll do it carefully and not excessively (I don't have that much time anyways)! 

What's your take on runners and flexibility?!

As for the rest of my weekend, yesterday I ran 6 X 600m hill repeats and I was quite pleased with myself. It's funny how going uphill, I was telling myself that "maybe I should do just 4, that would be enough" and then going downhill, I'd be like, "it's not so bad, I can probably do 6" and I did this every. single. time. :) Well, I did 6 of course, because when I set out to do something, I usually do it.

Then today, I had 22km (13.67 miles) on the program and as I was approaching 21K, I looked at my watch and realized that I was really close to a half-marathon PR, so km 21 was my fastest and I ended up with a 45 second PR. Then I remembered that every half-marathon race I've run, I ended up going longer than 21.1, so when I compare this time to my last race, where I went 21.28, it's about the same. BUT, when I look at my last training 21.1, it's a PR :) Regardless, it went well today and I'm really pleased with how I'm feeling.

Six weeks to go before the big day! 


Kate Geisen said...

I'm like that on repeats, too. :) Bargain, bargain, bargain. Usually stick it out though.

I have no stretching advice, but I know I'm far, far tighter than before I started running. I used to take a once a week yoga class; I can't now bc a set class time just doesn't fit into my life, but I miss it. Doing a yoga DVD is so not the same!

Nice job on the pr! It counts! :)

Tina @GottaRunNow said...

Thanks for sharing the information about stretching! Great job on the run, too!

Jill said...

Stretching??? What the hell is that?
I used to go to Pilates and it was the best stretching class for my angry hammie. Then I got healthy and stopped going because I just wanted to run, which was just a lame excuse. Ugh, I so needed this blog to remind me to get back at it. Thanks sweet girl!! Good job on the run - yahoo!

Johann said...

Ha, this is my guilty space. I don't stretch at all. Never have and never will. I am not flexible at all and I'm afraid I will just stay like that. It kind of works well for ultra running though. Have a good week!

Robin said...

I heard that too, that stretching before not a good idea (stretching cold muscles could damage them). This was great news, since I'm not a stretcher either. The only time I do stretch is if I have an minor twinge or ache then I'll stretch it out after the run. I also roll my foot on the golf ball (after).

Great running! Your training is awesome.

ajh said...

I was so good about stretching for so long but have done NONE since I got injured. I can feel it too. I like stretching and the way it makes me feel.

Char said...

I always stretch and I do yoga but I'm pretty inflexible. The stretching is just to stop rigor mortis setting in. I thought by nature most runners were pretty inflexible and I know flexibility reduces with age so basically we're screwed.

Marv said...

I am not as disciplined about pre-run strething as I should be. Now, after 30 years of this, I have flexibility issues. But, and this is my experience only, I have found that if I do about a mile to a mile and a half and then stretch, I run smoother and my speed improves 1-2 minutes per mile. I don't know if it makes me stronger or weaker but I run better.

Caroline said...

I roll but I don't stretch...I can touch my toes though :)

Pour les fideles qui sont francophones..le nom du livre svp et aussi est ce que c bien???