Make Stretching a Habit
When I first started running, all I was focused on was completing my run to the best of my ability. I wasn’t thinking of my run as part of a complete workout – one that includes a warm up, a cool down, and stretching. I was content with simply having gotten myself to run at all, and wasn’t too concerned with these other workout components.
Since my aerobic capacity and the intensity of my runs increased, I’ve started to understand why it’s so important to think beyond just the run. At all times, you want to do your best to preserve your body and avoid injury. If you’re exercising intensely without a proper warmup, or without proper stretching, then your chances of getting hurt are significantly higher.
My old habit of stretching for only five minutes after a hard run just wasn’t enough. My body would always be tight, and I never seemed to recover fully from the workout. Not only were my hips, glutes, and calves always tight, but even worse was the fact that I had a slightly pulled hamstring too.
As I devoted more time to stretching, my body started to feel much better. I was less sore, I recovered more quickly, and I felt stronger and better overall. Initially, stretching seemed to be a waste of time that took away from my already hectic schedule. It didn’t seem like it was worth it.
I now realize that stretching is perhaps the most vital part of the entire process. Without a good stretch and loose muscles, you stand to get injured – and then you can't workout at all!