- I don’t want to have to dig through my tags to find all my exercises, if need be. Here they are all in one quick and easy location.
- I hope somebody Googling (much like I did a year ago) can avoid injury and/or strengthen their running, and maybe even create some good habits.
I can’t say there’s any “most important” part of this series to focus on because the whole is crucial to staying healthy and getting better, but if I’m going to emphasize anything, I think it’s this post right here. I feel like so many runners (and athletes, and avid gym-goers alike) don’t take rest as seriously as they should. I see runners going strong 5 to 6 days a week with little rhyme or reason, and their rest day is intensive active rest like swimming laps for time, lengthy bike rides (not at leisurely paces), or hefty strength training. Resting your body from one form of working out to do another is not actually rest. Rest — as in laying on the couch binging on Netflix while stretching and foam rolling — is rest. As if you needed another excuse for Netflix binging, anyways.
Sometimes we all need a day to just lay in bed til the afternoon, then move to the couch and spend the day getting up only for the bathroom or to grab food from the kitchen, mostly indulging in food, naps, and TV. Sometimes that’s not even a recovery from working out, but a recovery from the stresses of life. Don’t get me wrong, I love passive recovery and I definitely take more days like that than I should, but I’ve really started to appreciate active recovery lately. And by active recovery, I still don’t mean swimming, biking, or weightlifiting.
Active recovery for me starts after I get home from my run. I ordered a Thera-Band on Amazon a few weeks ago, but it got “lost” (aka delivered, but not actually delivered) so instead, I bought a rope from the dollar store and folded/knotted it a few times. Going back to the fact that I’m not flexible, these stretches are something I need to stay on after my runs and on my total rest days.
- Laying flat on my back, I loop the rope around my left foot. Keeping my right leg on the ground, I lift my left leg with the rope around it, first letting my leg lift on its own to the start of the stretch. Holding the ends of the rope, I slowly bring my straight left leg closer to me, feeling the stretch in my hamstring. I keep my foot flat during this, thinking about my running form and the midfoot strike. I hold the stretch for about 5-10 seconds, then lower my leg to the floor, and repeat a few more times before switching legs.
- Laying flat on my back, just like the aforementioned stretch with the rope around my left foot, I bend my left knee towards my chest keeping my lower leg against the back of my thigh, not stretching yet. I lift the lower portion of my left leg, thinking about my foot maintaining that midfoot strike form, as I start the stretch I use the rope to pull my left closer to being straight. In this position, my leg won’t ever reach straight my knee is slightly bent still due to my thigh being so close to my torso. I hold for the same amount of time as the previous stretch and switch legs after as many reps as I feel are necessary.
After the stretching, a shower, and some food, I try (sometimes I forget) to use a golf ball, J’s hands, or my R8 to massage my calves and posterior tibial tendon. Typically I find that the golf ball is perfect for under my arch and right around my ankle bone, if J’s hands are unavailable. My R8 is perfect for reaching up my calf and when I don’t have the force to shove the golf ball in all the right spots (that was a questionable ending to a sentence that was not meant to be questionable).
Finally, a soft ice pack (go Google a recipe for homemade ice packs with ice and rubbing alcohol) helps keep any inflammation down before the tendonitis even thinks about creeping back into my life. While I don’t always follow the ideal recovery protocol after runs, I always use an ice pack on my left ankle because of all the trouble it has given me. I sincerely think it’s the one thing that helps me recover so quickly because it’s the one constant between all my runs. I prefer the ice pack to the ice bath because I can target it since I’m not doing any crazy runs and I can watch TV with a blanket on — remember, Netflix binging over here.
Aside from these, I will return to the movement prep stretches occassionally, too. I love the World’s Greatest Stretch and kneeling sequence if my hips are ever feeling tight, which is probably if I’m laying on the couch. The stretches are so simple and take so little time, I really have no problem tossing them into my routine at night as I wind down whether I ran or not.
Prior to therapy, I had no problem with rest days. It wasn’t hard for me to take three days off per week and still feel like I was getting adequate amount of time on the pavement, but I wasn’t training for anything beyond 13 miles. I know with my pre-disposed “issues”, I need to be cognizant of my rest time and use it wisely. I have plans to get back to running half marathons, eventually a marathon, and still getting to that point where a 13 mile run is just something I can do on a whim as a training run, rather than training to just complete that distance competitvely. What isn’t on my plan is another year wasted away due to a preventable injury.