Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Resistance Stretching & Long Run Recovery

Long run recovery has always been one of my greatest obstacles in distance training. My body struggles to recovery with each novel distance, the greater the distance, the longer the recovery time. The body does adapt over time, and what once seemed like an insurmountable distance to run, becomes an easily attainable distance. It's all about your perception. Every runner differs in their long run recovery time, some bounce back quickly, others need a week, or even two weeks, to fully recovery from those long runs, especially race day runs. Stretching, foam rolling , and adequate warm up time all aide in shortened recovery time, a lesson I have learned the hard way during marathon training.

Last week, I did a series of resistance stretches I learned from my personal trainer. I found a really great article which details resistance stretching techniques and it's importance here.

Sarah Crone of the Kalamazoo Gazette, defines resistance stretching techniques as "a form of conditioning, contracts a muscle and elongates it -- the opposite of an exercise such as a bicep curl, which causes muscles to shorten.
It is the lengthening of the muscle that is the crux of resistance stretching, since it increases flexibility within the joints and strengthens muscles when they're at their weakest (elongated)".

To stretch each leg, I lay on my back and extend one leg at a time. I use either a person, trainer/ Mr. Noel, or an object that I can hold in both hands (towel/rope), to apply pressure to my foot and I push back in increments of 10-15 seconds per stretch. I'm completing this applying pressure from all sides of my foot, extending my leg across my body with pressure from the outside and inside of my foot. Repeating the process with my leg extended away from my body, with pressure from the inside and outside of my foot.

Currently, I am completing these stretches singularly. If you don't have another person to help you with these types of stretching, it's not a problem. The biggest factor in completing these stretches on your own is using an object that doesn't have any give, a resistance band for example wouldn't work in this scenario. I'm using a bath towel. She has the smarts. That's it. Guess what? It's working....wonders! 

Check out Sarah's article for pictures and details. After a week of completing these stretches once daily, I am fully recovered from my 20 mile long run, and I'm no longer having pains in my left leg. Last Wednesday, I was a little afraid of how long it would take to recover from that long long long long long run. Let's just say walking was an issue. I committed to the stretch routine, and after one day of rest, got back in the groove. It's one of those times where I've felt, this is so simple it's stupid. If you've been reading here for a while, or know me in real life, you know I have no desire to get technical, and I am no expert. I can only pass along what works for me. Resistance stretching is where it's at!

Today I've got a four mile run on the agenda, and I'm really looking forward to it. A four mile run is probably one of my favorite distances. Far enough to feel like I'm burning up some fat, but short enough that I still have lots of energy for strength. Gonna be a great day!

What is your long run recovery time? 
What are your go-to long run recovery methods?

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  1. Love to you girl... I love 4-5 miles too - my fav.

  2. I am finding myself loving the 4-milers too! I will definitely have to try those stretches. I don't know why but I hate stretching and foam rolling. I promised myself I'd do it after every run from now until the marathon to keep my muscles loose and injury-free.