Foam rolling keeps my legs in tact to tackle those long runs. (Photo courtesy of EcoWise)
Week two – done and done. This week for me was all about logging the miles. I'm still in the beginning of my training so it's not a huge amount of miles yet, but it's still a lot of time. Sticking with my trusty plan, I’m thankful that at this point, outside of the usual soreness, I haven’t had any injuries. Staying injury-free is a big goal for me during this process, and one thing I learned from The Biggest Loser is that sidestepping injuries when you are training has nothing to do with crossing your fingers and hoping for the best. That sounds silly, right? But when you think about it, how often have you really taken the time to concentrate on prepping your body for a run, or any workout for that matter? I know in the past the most I ever did was maybe a side bend or two. After injuring my IT band last spring I quickly realized the importance of taking care of my body not only before a workout, but after as well.
One of the best tools I have been using for the last two weeks is my foam roller. If you are unfamiliar with the foam roller let me first apologize for being the one to introduce you. Yes, "rolling" using the roller is not pleasant and in the beginning hurts a quite bit. It takes a few tries to get used to it, but I can truly say has saved my IT bands. If you find you’re experiencing similar problems, pick one up at a sporting goods store of even online, they are pretty cheap!
Here’s my stretching routine lately. But first, disclaimer time: I am in no way suggesting this will work for everyone. I am obviously not a doctor, but this really works for me and hopefully will help you start to figure out your own routine:
Before running, I start out by rolling my IT bands with my foam roller on each side for 5 minutes. If they are feeling extra tight I will sometimes roll a little longer. Next, I begin a 6 to 8 minute session of what I call "functional" stretching. By that I mean jumping jacks, lunges (forward and back) and step-ups either on the curb or a bench. Functional stretching not only stretches my muscles, it warms them up as well, killing two birds with one stone. Static stretching is great too, but I find that when I do it I'm still cold and it makes the first few minutes of my run a little miserable.
After I'm finished with my run I roll again, this time just a few minutes each side. I also ice both of my knees for 15 minutes, no more no less. Seriously, I set the oven timer. Then wash, rinse, and repeat when I run the next time.
I know it sounds like a lot of work, and it is. But I want to not only make it to race day in one piece, I want to be ready and feel good! So I put in the time and make my pre and post-run routine as important as the run itself.
Tell me: How are you all doing with your training?