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The year is coming to an end, and we’re officially entering the holiday season!
No need to stress out trying to enjoy all the good things this season has to offer, without compromising your workout and the healthy habits you’ve adopted along the year.
You must be thinking ‘How can I find the time? And how about the motivation?’. We can give you a few tips!
Make a plan
If your calendar gets busier at this time of the year, take a closer look at your weekly schedule, so you can plan your training in advance and fit in some time for a run. If you find it easier, schedule all your runs in your mobile phone or any other kind of digital calendar that notifies you whenever it’s time for hitting the road.
Redefine your workout
Finding some free time to workout during the holiday season is not easy. But that doesn’t mean you should just skip your runs! Remember: shorter runs are better than no running at all. 30 minutes is all it takes to feel the runner’s high!
What about the rainy days? Consider a home workout routine for those times. Crunches, push-ups and running up and down the stairs are all runner-friendly exercises that can be done with no gym equipment.
Bring the family or a friend
The holiday season is a great time to catch up with out-of-town friends who might be home visiting or even your own family members. So why not invite them to run with you? It’s fun and you can challenge each other. If you are the only member in the family who runs, try to find out local trails or tracks and see if anyone wants to go for a walk while you run. Going outdoors can be a fun way to enjoy the holiday season, release some stress, and of course, a great bonding experience.
More Intensity, less time
If you’re struggling to find the time for a long run, do a short run instead, at a faster pace, which will increase the effectiveness of the short run.
You can also try to crank up the intensity of one of your running workouts with a short, fast interval session on a track or treadmill. This will help you break up the monotony and give your fitness level a good boost to start the new year.
Fight the food temptation
This is that time of the year when everyone seems to forget about healthy eating habits, food journals and counting calories. But who can resist the loaded buffet tables with all the delicious dishes?
Remember it’s ok to allow yourself to splurge on drinks or your favorite dessert once in a while, but don’t make a habit of it. All you need to do is to find a healthy balance: for example, if you have two parties on the same night, eat dinner on the first and leave some room for dessert at the next.
Bring the joy of the holiday season to your workout
There are a lot of fun races during this season, from turkey trots to jingle bell runs. Just find one near you, put it on your calendar, take some friends and family with you… and have the time of your life!
Eight weeks have passed and you’re finally an Ease Into 5K Graduate. But there are still two aspects of your running you want to improve: you actually want to run a 5K in 30 minutes, and without stopping. If your progress seemed to plateau in the last couple of weeks and your personal best is far from the 30 minutes, you’re not alone.
In fact, this is a major concern for those who end a 5K training program. And for those in doubt: Yes. It’s possible to run a 5K in 30 minutes without stopping! But it requires work, some adjustments in your training program and even a few tweaks to your diet!
If you have your eyes set on a longer distance, like a 10K, pick up where the 5K app leaves off and get to running a 10K with Bridge to 10K.
Make sure you take the following tips into consideration while training:
One fun way to improve your PR is by adding some interval training.
If you prefer to train in a running track, you can run a lap at your 5K pace, and then, a slower, easier recovery lap.
If you are running on the road, you can use lamp posts to mark intervals. After warm-up, try sprinting from one lamp to the next, followed by a lamp-to-lamp slower run. Repeat the pattern until you’ve covered a mile.
To run faster you need to build up speed and endurance. Hill running is an excellent exercise because it builds up your leg muscle strength, helps your aerobic capacity, your stride length, and of course, your running technique.
And how about adding some speed training to hill running? You can run up a hill at a high speed and on your way down do some easy jogging or just walk.
Don’t start too fast
Endurance is an important aspect of a faster 5K. You need to run at a “conversational pace”, meaning you can talk, finishing your sentences while you’re running.
If you find yourself out of breath, just slow down, without stopping. As you increase your endurance, you’ll be able to pick up your pace; but to start, just focus on increasing your distance.
Posture & Breathing
Your posture is very important while running. Keep in mind: shoulders back. If you tend to lean forward, it’s harder to breathe. With an upright posture, you’ll breathe more efficiently. Don’t forget your arms must be at a 90-degree angle as you use them to move propel yourself forward.
One of the reasons why runners tend to stop and walk while training can be from side stitches. To prevent this, you need to avoid shallow breathing. Breathe in through your nose and breathe out through your mouth when you’re running. Don’t forget: breathe deeply from your belly, not your chest which allows you to take in more air.
Nutrition and Rest
A good balanced diet is important if you have a training routine. Make sure you incorporate carbohydrates, protein and both saturated and unsaturated fat into your diet. You can also keep a food diary and do some research on healthy recipes that will provide fuel for training and recovery.
Speaking of recovery, rest is very important to prevent any injury. Make sure you take at least one day off each week. Your muscles will appreciate the day off because they build and repair themselves during rest days.
Are you already running a 5K in 30 minutes? Share with the community how you accomplished this goal!
Aww, the treadmill… either you love it or you hate it! In case it wasn’t already obvious from this blog’s title, I’m in the group of runners that can’t stand it! When you love to run outside, it can be frustrating if the weather just won’t cooperate and you’re left with only two options: you skip a workout or you run on the treadmill. Skipping? Not a chance!
Without scenery passing me by and something to take my mind off the machine, I usually can only run about 10 minutes on the treadmill before boredom wins and I start to look at the clock every 30 seconds.
Fortunately there are plenty of ways to make the time on the treadmill more interesting. Why not give them a try before the freezing temps stop us all from hitting the road?
Set goals and achieve them
Road running and treadmill running have their differences. For starters, running on the treadmill is somewhat easier than road running because it requires less energy. So why not set different training goals?
Set yourself some benchmark times and distances. Keep a record of your results and then aim to improve them on every visit to the gym. Having evidence that you’re getting fitter is a great motivation booster!
Break it up
Instead of dreading a 30-minute treadmill run, you can break it up into 5-minute increments, interspersed with some strength training or a different type of cardio work, such as rowing or the elliptical trainer. You could even make up a circuit of 8 to 10 exercises and machines, including the treadmill. Just don’t forget to “WooHoo!” yourself every time you finish a 5-minute run!
Do interval training
Intervals are by far my favorite way to pass the time on any cardio machine. Instead of running at one continuous pace for 30 minutes you can break up your treadmill running by mixing up intervals of faster running and slower recovery.
The types of intervals you can do are really endless. Just make sure you put together a sequence where you increase intensity each minute or two, moving you progressively from a walk to a sprint. Here’s an example:
- Run or walk at a moderate pace for 2 minutes.
- Run or walk at a challenging pace for 1 minute.
- Run or walk at an easy pace for 1 minute.
- Repeat until you’ve reached your workout goal (minutes or miles).
Up for a challenge? Ask your running buddy to pay a visit to the gym with you. Choose treadmills next to each other and start the race. First one to run a mile wins! Not only is this strategy motivating, but it also helps you forget about staring at the clock. That first mile will be over in a blink of an eye!
If you’re working out alone, visualize yourself in a race. Or if you’re in a crowded gym, peek at the console of the person next to you and race him or her!
Tired of blisters, rainy days, chafing and sore muscles? Making your run fun, an endorphin inducing activity, should be without hassle, and should also be part of your training.
While the tips below won’t make you a faster runner, they will help you remove obstacles from your way to accomplish your goal and take advantage of smart training.
Let us know in the comments if you’ve ever tried any of these hacks!
Stop static stretching before you run
Studies have shown that static stretching offers no real benefit and may even compromise performance when you run. Opt for dynamic stretching instead, which loosens up muscles and increases heart rate, body temperature, and blood flow to help you run more efficiently.
Move to the groove
If you enjoy music while you run, we have great news: listening to music with a higher-than 120 BPM will not only make your run more enjoyable, but could boost your performance by 15 percent. Use SongBPM to figure out the BPM of your favorite songs or check out Jog.fm’s playlist organized by BPM.
Stock up on pantyhose
If you’re very blister-prone, pantyhose (or nylon stockings) could be your savior. Some soldiers wear them underneath their socks because they act as a second skin, stopping their feet from rubbing against socks and thus preventing blisters.
Go with the older model
Even though brick and mortar stores only have the newest models on display, you can still ask for last year’s model. The changes from model to model are usually fairly minor, and you could end up saving money by opting for the other, just as good shoe.
Lace up your keys
If you don’t have any pockets to hold your house and car keys, just tie them into your shoe laces, making sure they’re tied tight and that the keys are secure. Using a belt or an armband is also a good idea, especially if you want to carry more stuff around, like some cash and your smartphone.
Keep duct tape in hand on rainy days
No more soaked socks after a run in the rain! You can keep your feet dry by duct taping the tops to prevent water from getting in. It won’t keep out the water forever, but it will certainly help.
Shower in your running clothes
Running clothes get stinky quick. But that doesn’t mean you have to wash them after every use.
Jump in the shower with your clothes on and give them a good rinse for about 2-3 minutes, and then hang up to dry to use the next day. After doing this two or three times, you will probably be ready to throw them in the washing machine.
Lick yourself after a run
This might be the most strange hack you’ve ever heard, but it can help you avoid dehydration. How? Lick yourself after finishing a run – if it’s really salty, you’ll need to replenish electrolytes.
A few days ago, we came across a new inspiring story from the other side of the world. Lerie, from Singapore, shared a picture of her first 10K on Instagram, done almost 3 years ago. Since she started running, she crossed 12 finish lines, including half and full marathons with the help of our apps!
Lerie is living proof that, regardless your fitness level, you always can challenge yourself and accomplish big! Read her full interview and get off the couch and into your sneaks!
– Share a little bit about yourself?
My name is Lerie and I am 29 years old. I was a teacher but I am now a stay-at-home mom to my 20 month old son. I was born and raised in Bangkok, Thailand but have been living in the lovely clean, green, runner-friendly city of Singapore for the last 7 years.
– Why did you start running?
I started running because my then 25 year old self was sick and tired of being so unfit that I could barely even walk up a flight of stairs without gasping for breath. Running seemed like the simplest sport/workout to start off with.
– What challenges did you face when you began?
It wasn’t easy when I started because I hadn’t been active for so many years. On my first few runs I felt sick and exhausted. I felt like I would never get the hang of running. I had to fight every excuse and take the first step out the door each time. It was just so much “easier” to just sit on my couch and let time pass by.
– What was your first Bluefin app? How did you find it?
My first Bluefin app was Ease into 5K. I randomly read an article online about the best apps to use for health and fitness and they mentioned this app. Back then it was first called Couch to 5K and I was totally drawn to it because I feltl like a couch potato who wanted to run. So I checked out the app and the rest is history. I loved how the app/program was not overwhelming or scary in the sense that running 3 times a week and reaching my goal in 8 weeks sounded pretty realistic. The description clearly states that it was made for people who had never run before (me!) plus knowing that I could walk while training made it less intimidating. I enjoyed knowing the exact time, distance, pace and route and sharing my achievements/progress with friends and family on Facebook. The journal part was also fun for me because I was able to see how I improved. I can sincerely say I wouldn’t be where I am now in running if it weren’t for discovering Bluefin apps.
– Tell us about your progress: What made you go from couch potato to marathon racer? How many races do you have under your belt so far?
Well, as I continued to follow the Ease into 5K program I actually saw and felt progress! I could actually run further and longer than I thought I could each time and I loved having the record and seeing the stats of my run. I was ecstatic when I could actually run 3 minutes straight without stopping! I couldn’t believe myself when I actually ran 3km so you can imagine my happiness when I actually reached 5km. After that I wanted more. I wanted to challenge myself. If I could come this far I could go further right? Since the Ease into 5K worked so well for me I moved to the Bridge to 10K app. Needless to say, I reached my goal and achieved something I never even thought of dreaming which was running a 10K. I told myself if I couldn’t even climb up a flight of stairs without feeling out of breath but now I could run a 10K that means I could go even further right? So I trained and ran for my first half marathon and since I didn’t want to be half crazy I trained and ran my first full marathon too! For both, I used Hal Higdon’s Novice 1 Half Marathon and Novice 1 Marathon app.
I loved how these apps were catered to a newbie runner like me. I am just so glad I found what worked for me. I didn’t dare to dream or imagine how far I could go but I kept surprising myself. My first run to my full marathon all happened in a span of less than a year and a half. Here in Singapore, races are quite costly so I haven’t joined as many races as I would like to but I currently hold 12 medals.
– What has changed since you started running?
Physically I did lose some weight, but I also gained confidence from running that carried out to my work and relationships. A huge difference I felt was my energy. I had the energy and the enthusiasm to do things that normally tired me out or made me cranky. I felt like a new person and everything in life just seemed more positive and meaningful. There was no looking back. I never wanted to be that unfit person again. Even after having my first child, I dragged myself out to run again because I didn’t want that to be an excuse. Running has made me love life and health more. I didn’t realize how much I would love running, how much of an impact it would have on my life and how important it would be to me. It has changed my life so much that I even started a blog focusing on my running and healthy lifestyle journey: iactuallyrun.com.
– Any big motivators during your workouts that have helped you to keep running?
I would remind myself to compare myself to the person I was yesterday. To not forget how far I have come. I became even more motivated because friends and family actually were inspired by what I had achieved in running. Lately, it has been my son and having a family and wanting to stay healthy for my family that keeps me running. My dream is passing on the joy of running to my son and future children and us running together in races.
– What advice would you like to give to newbie runners?
Challenge yourself, give yourself the chance to look back and see how far you have come. Every run will be a miracle because it was something you never knew or imagined you were able to do. If an ordinary person like me can do something beyond what I ever imagined doing, you can do it too. Patience and starting bit by bit will get you somewhere.
You will be amazed at what you and your body can accomplish if you just set your mind to it!
Do you want to share your success story with us and this awesome community of runners? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out to us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram! Your story could be featured on our blog and social media!
We all know that to run our best, we have to eat the best. The cooler temperatures no longer ask for a fresh smoothie or a colorful tropical salad. But that doesn’t mean we have to give up on our healthy habits and fresh, delicious foods as the temperatures drop.
These amazing superfoods are the living proof that we don’t have to sacrifice color, flavor and nutrients this Fall. And the best part, you can find them in the garden, in your local farmer’s market or grocery store.
This satisfying fruit is delicious when eaten raw or baked into a dish. Apples are high in cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber (4 grams of dietary fiber per serving) and, according to a recent study, also contain an antioxidant that may protect against muscle injuries, particularly those caused by downhill running.
They make a deliciously healthy post-run compote or can be paired with cranberries for an Apple Cranberry Pie.
Along with other cruciferous vegetables like cabbage and broccoli, brussels sprouts contain glucosinolates, which destroy cancer-causing agents. In addition, these veggies are a great source of vitamin K, folate and iron.
Even though they have a bitter taste, these veggies taste divine when made the correct way. You can lightly steam them or cut them half, toss in olive oil, and bake at 350°F for 20 minutes. They make great side dishes!
These veggies are more nutritionally dense than their white-potato counterparts: they are an excellent source of vitamin A, a good source of iron and they contain more potassium than bananas. A recent study showed that eating sweet-potato extract for a week boosted levels of antioxidants and lowered markers of muscle damage after a hard run.
Instead of boiling, try roasting them. They’ll taste even better, and you may preserve more nutrients than boiling.
This slightly sour fruit is rich in anthocyanidins, which help keep cholesterol levels healthy and, according to a study from the University of Texas at Austin, reduce post-run soreness. In addition, pomegranates are a good source of vitamin C and folate.
The juice provides a tangy base for marinades and post-run smoothies, and the seeds can be sprinkled over salads or yogurt.
Pumpkin is THE food of the season and can be used for much more than jack-o’-lanterns! Pumpkins are rich in vitamin A, which is the nutrient responsible for giving pumpkin its antioxidants and rich orange color. You’re also getting other minerals, including potassium and calcium, and high quantity of fiber in exchange for fairly low calories.
Its sweet taste and moist texture make it ideal for pies, cakes, and even pudding!
We know how hard it can be to stick to your training program. Even though all our training programs are designed to gradually increase the effort needed, long runs are always tough and exhausting. And not only physically. Long-distance running can be as much a mental challenge as it is a physical test of strength and fitness.
When you find yourself struggling during a longer run, try some of these mental tricks to help win the mental battle while running:
Break it up
A very effective mental running trick for longer training runs is splitting the distance into smaller mileage, so you don’t feel overwhelmed by thinking about how far it is to the finish. For example, you might mentally break a 12 mile run into three 4-mile runs, a much more do-able and not so overwhelming distance.
One easy way to do it is by planning specific destinations into your route: 4 miles to the park, other 4 miles to the church and the last 4 will be logged on the route back to your house or starting point.
Talk to yourself
The person running next to you might think you’re crazy, but who cares? Giving yourself a pep talk can make the difference when you are struggling to keep going. Say to yourself things like, “I can do this!”, “I’m staying strong” or even “I’ll have some water in five minutes – that will make me feel better.”
Picking a mantra, such as “You’re stronger than you think you are.” or “One step at a time” can also be your inner motivation when you need it most and will definitely help you stay focused and centered.
Recruit a friend
Most runners prefer to do their long runs by themselves. But doing it with a running buddy might be the solution for your boredom and lack of enthusiasm during longer distances. Having a buddy to run with can distract you from the mileage and give you the motivation you need to get through the hardest miles.
Taking your mind off your running and placing it elsewhere is a tried and very effective mental running trick. And what better than playing a game to keep your brain busy while your body does its work? Here are two examples:
- Counting cars: pick out a specific car color to look for during your run. Then count how many cars you see with that specific color. You can also do this with specific articles of clothing, houses, types of trees, etc.
- Go fishing: if you’re running on a track with other runners, focus on someone in front of you who you think you can catch. Then picture yourself reeling that person in, as you keep getting closer and closer to him. When you pass that runner, pick out another person and continue the fishing game.
Imagine yourself on race day
Whenever you’re having a tough time with your long run, picture yourself on race day, running the course and crossing the finish line. During a race, you have to be mentally strong and do whatever you can to keep going. You don’t want to disappoint yourself or all those spectators watching you. So, toughen up and push yourself, while you imagine how it will feel to see your loved ones at the finish line cheering for you.
Do you have your own tricks to tackle your long run? Share them in the comments below!
Many of you probably have “running a marathon” on your bucket lists. But here comes the tough question: Which one should you run? With more than 1,100 marathons taking place in the U.S. each year, we understand that choosing a race can be as hard as finding a needle in a haystack.
If you are looking for a unique experience or a fabulous destination, we’ve done the groundwork for you and identified 8 top races that happen from January to December.
While a few of the most popular races are already sold out this year, it’s never too early to mark your calendar and make your way to a starting line in 2016! For extra help, download one of Hal Higdon’s marathon training plans!
When: The 2016 race will happen on the 14th of February 14. The race is typically in March.
Where: Los Angeles, California
Why you should race it: the City of Angels’ signature marathon debuted in 1986, but it has seen a resurgence in popularity in the most recent years. The point-to-point course starts outside Dodger Stadium and wind its way down to a finish on the Santa Monica coastline, taking runners through West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and more.
When: Patriots’ Day, the third Monday in April. The 2016 race will happen on April 18th.
Where: Boston, Massachusetts
Why you should race it: Boston Marathon is the ultimate “bucket list” race for many runners around the world. Not only this is the world’s oldest annual marathon – the Boston Marathon was first run in 1897 – it is also one of the toughest to get into. But once you’ve secured a spot, you’ll conquer the historic course and challenging Heartbreak Hill in front of crowds of more than 500,000 spectators.
Big Sur International Marathon
When: Last Sunday in April. The 2016 race will take place on the 24th of April.
Where: Carmel, California
Why you should race it: Big Sur International Marathon is quite possibly the most scenic marathon in the U.S. Now in its 30th year, this point-to-point Marathon runs along the famous Pacific Coast Highway and seven California State Parks. The signature landmark of the race is at the halfway point, when runners cross the iconic Bixby Bridge.
Twin Cities Marathon
When: First Sunday in October. The 2015 race will take place on the 4th of October.
Where: St. Paul, Minnesota
Why you should race it: The Twin Cities Marathon is a great way to tour two cities for the price of one! The race starts in downtown Minneapolis, passes four of the state’s many lakes, then crosses the Mississippi River into St. Paul, where you’ll finish at the State Capitol Grounds. No wonder it is dubbed “The Most Beautiful Urban Marathon in America”.
When: Second Sunday in October. The 2015 race will take place on the 11th of October.
Where: Chicago, Illinois
Why you should race it: the Chicago Marathon is known for its flat-and-fast course that starts and finishes in Grant Park, winding through downtown Chicago and 29 of its neighborhoods. Along the 26.2 course, there’s not a single spot without spectators, as more than 1 million of them line Chicago’s streets to encourage runners.
Marine Corps Marathon
When: Fourth Sunday in October. The 2015 race takes place on Oct. 25.
Where: Arlington, Virginia
Why you should race it: Also known as the “Marathon of the Monuments”, this popular race starts at Potomac River in Arlington, Va. and offers a comprehensive tour of Washington, D.C.’s most famous landmarks, including Georgetown, the Washington Monument, and the Jefferson Memorial before heading back to Virginia. The MCM has also adopted a lottery system in recent years, due to its increasing popularity.
New York City Marathon
When: First Sunday in November. The 2015 race will take place on November 1st.
Where: New York, New York
Why you should race it: the NYC Marathon is the largest in the world and runners seem to adore the route! The course provides a tour of all five boroughs of New York City, from Staten Island to Manhattan’s Central Park, where you can expect more than a million spectators to cheer you through the finish. To register you’ll have to sign up for a lottery, but the odds might not be in your favour: in 2015, there was only room for 18 percent of the applicants.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon
When: The 2015 race will take place on Nov. 15.
Where: Las Vegas, Nevada
Why you should race it: even though the concept of Rock’n’Roll marathons was created in San Diego, Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas is a runner’s party, where you’ll find a vibrant, enthusiast atmosphere unlike any race in the country. Plus, this is the only opportunity to run the famous Las Vegas Strip at night!
Last week we mentioned how important it is to take time to stretch before every workout. But how about the minutes that follow a run? Shouldn’t they be used to cool-down and stretch out all of the major muscles you used? The answer is: YES!
Stretching after a physical activity improves flexibility, re-establishes a normal range of movement for your body and reduces the potential of any stiffness or soreness by beginning the process of realigning muscle fibers.
After your run, cool-down for 5 to 10 minutes with a brisk walk or a gentle jog. Then, hold these stretches static (without moving) for 10 to 15 seconds, making sure to do both sides.
To make stretching more fun and enjoyable, give our app 5-Minute Stretch for iOS a try!
1. Quadriceps stretch
Often referred to as quads, the quadriceps femoris are the muscles in the front of your thighs, responsible for lifting your knees and increasing your speed.
To stretch them, stand upright and grab hold of a stationary object for balance (a chair, for example) with one hand and use the opposite hand to pull your leg behind you. Try to keep your back straight and your knee pointing downward as you do this stretch to protect your knee joint.
2. Hamstring stretch
The hamstring is the muscle that makes up the back part of your thigh, stretching from just below the knee up into the buttocks. It’s the muscle that lifts the lower leg and bends the knee after the quads have lifted your knees.
For this stretch, lay on your back, lift and straighten one leg directly above hips. Holding the calf or thigh, press the heel towards the ceiling as you pull leg back towards the chest. Switch legs.
Alternatively, you can do this stretch sitting on the ground. Just extend your left leg, move your right foot toward your inner thigh and lean forward, bending but not rounding your back and waist toward the left foot as if reaching for your toes.
3. Calf stretch
Your calf muscles are located on the back of your lower legs. These muscles are responsible for propelling your legs across your grounded foot while running.
To stretch your calf muscles, lean against a wall or other stationary object with your right foot behind your left. Start to bend your left leg forward while keeping your right leg straight. Be sure not to bend the right knee and to keep your heel firmly positioned on the floor. Start with your back straight and gradually lunge forward until you feel the stretch in your calf. Repeat with the other leg.
4. Piriformis stretch
The piriformis is one of six muscles in the gluteal muscles. It’s engaged with every step you take on the run and it’s responsible for lateral rotation of the hip.
To stretch the piriformis, lie on your back and cross your legs just as you might while sitting in a chair. Grasp the “under” leg with both hands pull it up towards your chest until you feel the stretch in your buttocks and hips. Hold for five seconds and then repeat on the other side.
5. Lower back stretch
This is the stretch that most runners forget. But the truth is that running on hard surfaces like sidewalks can lead to lower back pain and irritation.
To stretch your lower back, start by lying on your back with both feet flat. Pull your right knee to your chest until you feel a stretch in your lower back. Hold for up to 15 seconds and repeat with the left leg. End the stretch by pulling both knees to your chest and holding this position for up to 15 seconds.
Which stretching routine works best for you? Let us know in the comments below!
Stretching is an important component of any fitness routine. Although it can be tempting to skip warm-up (especially if you’re on the clock), you should know better. Running with muscles that are not properly stretched can result in injury that keeps you off the road or trail for days, weeks or even months.
According to Nikki Kimball, from Runner’s World, dynamic stretching has many benefits: “loosens up muscles and increases heart rate, body temperature, and blood flow to help you run more efficiently.”
Begin each running workout with a 5 to 10 minute jog followed by these five essential dynamic stretches and your legs will totally return the favor the next time you step out the door.
1. Walking Lunges
Why are they good for you: walking lunges open up the quads and hip flexors, which are the major muscle groups you’ll be using during your run. Plus, they simulate the forward motion of running, making them a runner-friendly warm-up stretch!
How to do them: Stand with your feet together and take a step forward with your right foot using a long stride, keeping the front knee over or just behind your toes. Bend the front knee to 90 degrees and lower your body by dropping your back knee toward the ground. Maintain an upright posture and keep your abdominal muscles tight. Then, rise up and take a big step forward with your left knee to get the stretch on your left side.
2. Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretches
Why are they good for you: this is a very important stretch, especially for those runners who work at a desk all day. If you do, you probably have tight hip flexors, because they’re constantly in a state of flexion.
How to do them: Start in a lunge position (see above how to do it) with your front knee at 90 degrees and aligned over your toes. Straighten your back leg, until you feel a stretch along the front of your back thigh. Raise your arms up over your head and hold for a few seconds, then release.
3. Hip Circles
Why are they good for you: along with the kneeling hip flexor stretches, hip circles help you warm up the hips, which is key to a runner’s performance. In fact, the hips is where the hip flexors, psoas, and quads and hamstrings come in together, so opening up the joints and muscles of that area before hitting the pavement can help prevent injury.
How to do them: standing with your hands on your hips and your feet hip-width apart, rotate your hips in circles in a clockwise and then counterclockwise pattern, 6 to 10 rotations each direction.
4. Calf Raises
Why are they good for you: calf muscles are responsible for every single step you take on your run. When your foot leaves the ground during a run, your calf muscles contract to make that happen. To avoid soreness or – even worse – an injury, give them some pre-run love by doing a simple set of calf raises.
How to do them: stand on a step with your toes on the edge and your heels hanging off. Push up with both feet into a calf raise, then slowly lower your heels so that they come below the stair and you feel a stretch through your calf muscle.
5. Side Stretches
Why are they good for you: although the cause of side stitches is unclear, some fitness experts say you can help prevent them by stretching your torso before running.
How to do them: bring your arms up over your head and, keeping your abdominals tight, lean to the right and then to the left, bending at the waist. Do this movement dynamically, holding for one or two breaths on each side to warm up the muscles of the midsection.
If you need help incorporating stretching into your running routine, try our 5-Minute Stretch for iOS! This app takes the guess-work out of stretching and makes it fun and enjoyable.