This classic excerpt from the popular book and film looped in my head as I ran three miles for the first time in months. While the monotonous and tedious movements triggered side stitch and lactic acid build up, I was surprised by my time and learned some lessons while improving it.
Much to contrary beliefs, static stretching can harm your performance if done too much. While some may seem to benefit from it, physiological stand points seem to run against this.
Static stretching (motionless stretching while the body is at rest) prior to exercise stretches muscles and tendons. Obvious right? Well this type of stretching may actually use more ATP (fundamentals of energy) in the process and has the possibility of robbing your performance.
Static stretching may also promote the microscopic tears on muscle fibers (sarcomeres) prior to exercise. Keep in mind that these microscopic tears are normal when exercising of any kind. These tears are also the reason for DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). In consequence, these microscopic tears can hinder the ATP stored in the muscle fibers.
Isometric Stretching should be integrated along with some static stretching. Isometric stretching consists of stretching muscles via contraction and tension while under resistance. Combining both can boost performance for both resistance and endurance training.
For resistance training: Stretch during the exercise by adding one or two warm up sets with progressively heavier weight. Doing this will increase blood flow to the area and loosen up joints involved in the movement. In the end, it helps reduce potential injury.
For endurance training: Start off at a slower pace for the exercise you intend to do (fast walking if you’re going for a run). This will allow your heart rate to gradually increase opposed to it rapidly compensating for the increased blood acidity.
Also for endurance training: as you’re walking to warm up, perform some high knees to emphasize your hip flexors. You can do a few walking lunges to put more emphasis on the hamstrings and glutes, too. Keep these exercises to a minimal in order to keep from tiring out.
Running through Pain
The pain I’m talking about here is side stitch and mental pain. If you tear or twist something, stop immediately. However, if you feel lactic acid build up and that great side stitch flare up, the best thing to do is breath and keep on going. These things simply just happen. It comes with the process like muscle soreness.
You can run through side stitch. Best thing I have found to do is putting your hands on your head (convict style) and slow down a little. Do NOT lose momentum, though. slowing down to the point of stopping will cause a whole plethora of problems. Especially if you’re already a few miles deep.
The mental pain I’m talking about is anything from self doubt to losing focus. Many already know that physical activities are 90% mental. If you start to think that you won’t finish or if you keep thinking about how bad your shins hurt, there’s a good chance you’ll slow down and eventually stop. I know this is easier said than done, and believe me, it took me a long time to work this up for myself.
The best thing I can recommend is to practice, practice, practice. Over time, you’ll develop the stamina and focus to achieve that new mile run time record. Go after a new goal once that’s achieved, too.
Since I’ve made a record time for myself, I’ve also found it easier to get out and just go. For me, the only time I have for this is usually in the early early morning (1-2 AM). Even though I’m dead tired I still find it beneficial to do it, though.
Always keep your head up as you finish something. Whether you finish how you expected or not, have a sense of pride in everything you do.
Also, once you’ve ended it, stay in motion. Doing so will help your body go back to it’s relaxed state at a easier decent. This is done due to your body still needing an increased amount of oxygen. If you flat out stop, you’ll notice yourself breathing heavier longer opposed to walking around. Staying in motion will help blood lactate neutralize as well.
You’ll experience some sort of discomfort when you do something strenuous. It’s all a matter of how you deal with it and use it to your advantage. Overall, keep your head up, stay hydrated, and keep setting goals for yourself.