If you asked friends of mine a few years ago what my number 1 social problem was, they might very well have told you that I am too inflexible. At that time it was true- close minded, anxious, and easily frightened I was unwilling to try anything new so my progress suffered. Thankfully that is no longer a big problem of mine, I have overcome that particular difficulty, now I wish to overcome my other inflexibility. My physical inflexibility – which affects me before, during and after my runs. I wish I could change this with some yoga or personal training or something but my expendable income is too small to commit to those things, so I need to explore other options.
This week’s running wish…
I wish I was more flexible!
Set up- Loose and Light, fast and free
I have recently been experiencing more soreness at a higher level than ever before. To get ready for the distance season to come in the fall I have been ramping up mileage (safely) and this has left my joints stiff and achy more than normal along with that good muscle soreness you get after a hard run. I equate the first mile of a run when you are still a little sore to waking up the engine on an old car. Your hamstrings and glutes just dont want object vehemently when you try to get them going like an engine stuttering before revving through and going forward. There is nothing wrong with that in and of itself.
Lately it has been more so than normal though. Part of it is because I dont stretch enough. I never like stretching, and to stretch before a morning workout (or after a morning workout) means I need to wake up earlier than I already do. This isnt happening. Or when it is an afternoon workout, I always tell myself to stretch before and after, but I dont. The fact that I read an article recently that suggests that dynamic stretching doesnt help with injury prevention or performance has given me that false justification to not stretch at all.
This lack of stretching, my long commute and my natural inflexibility has started to really negatively influence my running. I have experienced 2 small foot problems of late, and upon researching both of them they have a lot due to with muscle stiffness and lack of flexibility. Upon placing greater emphasis onn stretching those areas, I have relieved that pain and ran way better. Still I feel inflexible and stiff, still I think that if I could get looser out on the road more quickly my race time would improve. I also think greater flexibility would help me get used to running at higher speeds and give me the extra edge for some PR’s. Most options to significantly improve my flexibility are on the costly side, but there are some moderate options.
The Reality- Super stiff and super sore
Im fairly inflexible. I had a pediatrician who once told me it would take stretching my hamstrings 45 minutes for them to loosen up. I wish I knew how serious or not he was being at the time, but I feel like he was accurate. Having trained capoeira for 4 years- which places a premium on it- my flexibility has certainly improved. However I would rate it as going from awful to slightly horrible. It is improvement, and a notable one but now it is no longer good enough. Even in those classes where we do extensive stretching it takes me way longer to get loose and feel right for the capo activities and movements to come. The extra time (as compared to my peers) that it takes me to get the stiffness out discourages me further so I often avoid it.
I took a couple of yoga classes a couple of years ago and I like how they made me feel after but they were extremely painful during them. Sadly I could not continue because they were not cheap and the good studios for yoga are way out of my way. I tried doing a DVR yoga workout but it was not the same at all. It definitely pointed out to me, that part of being fit is being flexible and I am most certainly not.
The Ideal Wish- Get loose quickly
I wish that I could stretch for 10 minutes (dynamic or static) before I run and shake the cobwebs out of muscles faster when I started. I wish that not every run began with my muscles “groaning to life” like the Chevy Nova my Dad used to drive when I was younger. I wish that I could touch my toes in any significant hamstring stretch. I wish that after runs, I could stretch for 10 minutes and feel that satisfying feeling that others get from the post workout cooldwon. I wish that I could be more flexible so I could find my speed quicker in shorter races. I wish that I could take yoga (too expensive and too far away currently) or had the time for a flexibility based classes at my gym.
The Possible- How much can you improve personal flexibility?
I am not sure about this one. I have debates on and off with capoeiraistas about whether or not you can make yourself more flexible. I think every one has a range, and I am not quite sure where I am in my own range. I know circus performer is not in that particular spectrum but I am hopeful that I can at reach least normal. Im also hopeful that if I attend college in the fall, I will have more cheap opportunities to work in a yoga class now and again. I also think that less of a commute and more time walking will mea that my legs will not have a lot of residual stiffness and will shake out easier when I need them to. Until then, I will have to make a better effort to stretch at least big muscles groups before, during and after all workouts. Since I cant be naturally flexible, I want to try to be passably so.
Enjoy Your Run. Enjoy Your Day :0