So, you just picked up running? No doubt the beginner running tips are starting to roll in. How to get faster, how to start feeling a little less miserable, how to get rid of cramps…
Well, you’re in luck! In this post we discuss one of the most IMPORTANT beginner running tips for building longevity as a healthy runner.
Beginner Running Tips: Stretching Is Not An Option
Like any other physical activity, running requires strength.
Strength requires muscle.
And muscle requires regular maintenance.
You don’t expect any other machine (your car, refrigerator, blowdryer) to operate day in and day out for you without your taking care of it.
The same goes for your body…and more specifically, your running body.
You’ve GOT to be stretching, every SINGLE day.
Let me repeat that.
EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
Lucky for you, the research has already been done. So let’s break “stretching” down for you!
Beginner Running Tips: When and How You Stretch Matters
By now, you’ve probably realized how different your body feels before and after a run.
Before: achy, cold, stiff, your breathing is shallow
After: warm, sweaty, more mobile, you’re able to take longer, deeper breaths
Knowing this, one of our best beginner running tips is that stretching incorrectly can get you injured, quick!
Harsh, static (still) stretching before you’re warmed up is like yanking on a rotten rubber band.
It’s not going to be pretty.
Stretching before your run:
- Should be dynamic (movement based).
- Shouldn’t hurt.
- Range of motion will be smaller.
- Should help to increase the heart rate and warm up the body.
Stretching after your run:
- Can be a mix of dynamic & static (holding still in one position).
- Should help slow the heart rate.
- Range of motion will be larger.
- Can physically help lengthen the muscles using heat generated by the run.
- Can increase your overall flexibility, longterm.
Understanding these differences from the get-go will benefit you greatly, and most importantly help you avoid injury!
In this post, we’ll be focusing on POST-RUN stretches.
Beginner Running Tips: Side Bend Stretch
Ok, so you just finished your run. Maybe you walked some, but you definitely ran.
You’re sweaty, out of breath, and probably ready to stop moving.
Try this out:
- After your heart rate has calmed down a bit (this part is important!), take a seat.
- Bend one leg in, “butterfly” style.
- Extend the other leg out to the side.
- Wrap the arm of the extended leg around the front of your waist for support.
- Reach the other arm toward the sky, right next to your ear.
- Take a big inhale.
- Take a big exhale and bend towards the extended leg.
- Take a big inhale.
- On the next big exhale, bend even further toward the extended leg.
- Repeat this for 5-10 breaths.
- The exhale is where the magic happens. Your muscles can relax on the exhale, allowing greater length and easier bend.
- This is great for opening up your side body, where a lot of your deep breathing and core engagement occurs.
- Keep your legs in the same configuration but return your body to “upright”.
- Now rotate your torso to face the extended leg.
- You can keep both arms on the extended leg, reaching out near the toe.
- Now repeat the 5-10 inhales & exhales.
- Again, use the exhales to find a greater stretch on each repetition.
- This is a GREAT stretch for your hamstring and calf.
- * For increased stretch, flex and hold onto the toe with your hands.
Complete 5-10 breaths of BOTH stretches on EACH leg.
Beginner Running Tips: Soccer Stretch
Another post-run favorite.
- Sit on the ground.
- Extend one leg out and cross the other over it in a “figure 4” shape.
- Hug the knee of the crossed leg into your chest.
- Allow your back to round into the position, folding over your bent leg.
- Now take a big inhale.
- On your exhale, try and straighten the back into an upright position, while squeezing the knee tighter to the chest.
- Press the chest to the knee and the tailbone straight into the ground.
- Repeat for 5-10 big breaths, increasing the stretch through the glutes, hamstrings and hips.
Here’s a bonus:
- After 5-10 breaths there, place the arm of the extended leg across/in front of your bent leg.
- Find a slight spinal twist, keeping the back as upright as possible.
- Now repeat the 5-10 big breaths, increasing the twist on each exhale.
Repeat everything on the other side!
Beginner Running Tips: Downward Dog
The last of our beginner running tips for unwinding after your run.
Here’s how it works:
- Get onto all fours, on a flat surface.
- From here press up into an inverted “V” position.
- Feet and hands should be hips’ width apart.
- Palms and feet should be flat on the ground (ideally).
- Start by simply pedaling out the feet, giving the calves a light stretch.
- After a few seconds of this, find your still “V” position again.
- Now, you’ll take your 5-10 breaths, but with a little exaggerated movement.
- On the inhale: you’ll bend your knees toward your chest, driving the hips high to the sky, driving heels down to the ground.
- On the exhale: you’ll straighten your legs and press your chest through your hands, back toward your legs. *Heels stay flat.
- Repeat for 5-10 repetitions.
We know how many beginner running tips are out there, overwhelming you from every angle – on the internet, from your seasoned runner friends, in books, magazines, apps…the list goes on.
If you take nothing else away from this post, remember that your body can’t work for you if you don’t work for it!
You’ve got 24 hours in your day. Stretching can take you less than 10 minutes a day. Trust us, it’s worth it!
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