Goals Set the Direction, But Habits Are Best For Becoming The Runner You Want to Become

“When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at this rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that last blow that did it – but all that had gone before.” – Jacob Riis (social reformer)

Happy New Year Runners!

Each year approximately 40 percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. Unfortunately, by the time February arrives most have quit, and will probably make the same resolution next January. Why weren’t they successful? Most likely they didn’t develop the proper behaviors and habits necessary to be successful. Yes, goals are important and provide direction, however it’s the systems and habits that we develop, that are most important to our success.

I recently finished reading James Clear’s Atomic Habits, which I highly recommend. He shares some valuable insight on how to develop good habits, and eliminate bad ones. In this article, I will touch upon a few insights that might help you get started in developing the habits you need to become a better runner and achieve your running goals.

Goals are helpful in that they provide us direction. Such as if we were flying from Los Angeles to Maui, it is helpful to know which direction we need to go. However, if we set a course starting from Los Angeles to land in Maui we would not arrive, if we did not make adjustments along the way. Similar with our running goals. We may have a goal of completing our first marathon, or breaking four hours, or qualifying for Boston, however if we don’t develop the proper plan, get in the runs and support work (dynamic warmup, cool down, strengthening exercises, and cross-training) and develop other important habits, we’ll not optimize our training. Instead, we may develop an injury and we won’t develop the endurance and/or speed necessary to achieve our goal.

Take Small Steps with a System-Focused Approach, Instead of Goal-Focused

One important principle from Atomic Habits is developing systems that set you up to become the person necessary to achieve whatever goals you set for yourself. Thus, to become a better runner such things as: proper training and nutrition plans, running form, support work, sleep, and hydration are important. If these are implemented on a consistent basis, incremental progress will be made leading to improved running performance, which then lead to better race results.

One of my favorite coaches of all time is the late Coach John Wooden, who had his players focus on making some small improvement each day that would help improve their game. These small improvements compound over time, like when you invest in mutual funds. Wooden put the emphasis on improvement and not on winning basketball games and national championships. As a result, some of Wooden’s players became some of the best basketball players in history (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Walton), and his teams won ten national championships, including seven in a row.

It is interesting to note that Wooden did not win his first national championship until he had been coaching at UCLA for 16 years! So, it took him a while to develop and successfully implement a system that would maximize his players’ performance, as well as his own coaching abilities. Similarly, if you are growing bamboo. It takes a significant amount of time for a bamboo plant to lay down an extensive root system. Then, all of sudden, a whole bunch of bamboo appears!

A systems-first mentality also allows you to fall in love with the process rather than the product/goal and you don’t have to wait to give yourself permission to be happy. You can be satisfied anytime your system is running. This is important because we are hardwired for immediate gratification. The goal-first mentality forces us to delay gratification until the next milestone is reached. The goal-first mentality also creates an “either-or” conflict in which you are either successful or a failure. Also, a goal-oriented mindset can create a “yo-yo” effect, which once the goal is achieved, you revert back to old habits. This is common with those trying to achieve weight loss.

So, it can be more beneficial to focus on what you want to become, instead of what you want to achieve, and develop the habits or systems to do so. If instead of waiting until we achieve our goal, we can achieve satisfaction in performing the steps along the way, we will be much happier and are more likely to make good habits automatic. Early on we may want to set up a rewards system for when we are completing the habits that we need to become the runner we need to become. Therefore, if we complete our run and the important support work, then we reward ourselves appropriately. For example, I reward myself with ten minutes of additional guitar-playing time. Over time you may not need the reward system because you automatically include support work on your run days.

So, again even though your goals will direct you, what’s most importance is the system you implement to become the runner necessary to achieve those goals. If you develop the habits and put in the work, the results will follow, just as they did for Coach Wooden.

 Identity Focus

Another important aspect of Atomic Habits is to become identity-focused, instead of goal-focused. Your habits are consistent with the identity you have for yourself. So, in order to change your habits, you have to change your identity. For example, if someone is trying to lose weight, they could change their identity to that of a healthy person, instead of focusing on losing a certain number of pounds. They can then focus on making decisions consistent with what a healthy person does, and could ask themselves, “What would a healthy person do in this situation?”

Similarly, if you have a time goal and/or want to be a Boston qualifier, your identity could be I’m a “sub-3:45 marathoner” or a “Boston qualifier” and put your focus on the habits necessary or consistent with being a “sub-3:45 marathoner” or “Boston qualifier”. You can then ask yourself, “Who is the type of person that would get these results?” Therefore, you would begin developing the sleep habits (such as 7-9 hours of sleep per night, because while you are sleeping the important adaptations to your training are occurring), nutrition habits (proper nutrients to fuel you and support adaptations), and support work habits necessary. You may also determine that it is necessary to work with a coach, so that you optimize your running form for performance and have an optimal training plan.  You may also need to develop the mind-set of focusing on improving as a runner from year-to-year, and appreciate that it may take a couple of years to break 3:45 in a marathon, or qualify for Boston.

Habit Stacking and Designing Your Environment

Techniques such as habit stacking and designing your environment (make it obvious) may help you facilitate the habits consistent with your identity of being a “sub-3:45 marathoner”, for example. After my runs I grab a glass of water to begin hydrating and focus on “relaxing my legs” by doing gentle leg swings, gradually increasing the range of motion. I perform these close to our designated workout room, which has my yoga mat, resistance band, dumbbells, foam roller, and lacrosse ball all laid out in full view (designing my environment). This cues me to perform the rest of my support work, including my strengthening exercises and cool down (habit stacking). Also, I usually play music I enjoy while performing these, which makes it easier to perform. I’ve performed this routine so many times that it has become automatic, and I recommend setting up a similar situation for yourself.

I will touch upon other important principles from Atomic Habits and other behavior change strategies in future blogs, to help you become the runner you want to become and help you achieve your goals along the way.

Summary of Key Points

  • Success is the product of daily habits
  • Goals are about the results you want to achieve. Systems are about the processes that lead to those results
  • Identity the person you want to become and develop the habits consistent with that identity
  • Consistency of habits is important. Start small and implement a proper reward system for immediate gratification once you’ve completed these habits. These habits should soon become automatic.
  • Focus on improvement over time, such as year-to-year, as a runner, not just a one-time goal

Please let me know if you have any questions, or if I can be of help.

I don’t want to leave you with the idea that goals aren’t important. They have their place, as far as providing direction. Also, there are other steps you should take before beginning your training. Click here for a post from last year on goal setting and here to learn of other steps you should take before you begin training.

Also, it’s not too late to get started on training, if you are planning to run a spring half- or full-marathon. I began my formal training for the Colfax marathon last week.

Finally, I plan to lead a half- and full-marathon training group this year for fall half- and full-marathons. The group will meet once per week in Louisville (CO) for a run, and participants will be provided with a 16-week training plan. If you are interested, or would like to learn more, please contact me at brian@denverrunningcoach.com

Your friend and coach,

Brian

References

James Clear. Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones.  Avery: New York, 2018.

Marathon Training 2019 Day 2: The Importance of a Proper Cool-Down

January 12 2019 family hike“The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today” – H. Jackson Brown Jr.

Today’s run was another easy run and at various times during the run, I focused on different aspects of my running form. In future posts, I will share these with you and some things you can focus on during your run to help improve your running form. You may also want to have your stride assessed, so that you can make any necessary adjustments to improve your running performance. Another thing I needed to focus on during today’s run was not pushing the pace and keeping a relaxed and easy pace, which you should do as well on your easy days.

I began with a dynamic warm-up. Then, I ran for ~42 minutes at an easy pace, in a primarily flat area. Immediately after my run, I did the following mobility and strengthening exercises for 10-15 minutes:

  • Leg swings forward and back with both straight and bent leg (10 repetitions of each for each leg)
  • Leg swings side-to-side with both straight and bent leg (10 repetitions of each for each leg)
  • Single-leg stand (~30 seconds for each leg)
  • Pushups (8 repetitions)
  • Monster walks side-to-side and forward and back (done with resistance band, 10 repetitions for each direction)
  • Prone planks (~30 seconds)
  • Side planks (~20 seconds)
  • Supine planks (~15 seconds)
  • Clamshells (15 repetitions on each side)
  • Y, T, I, and W (8 repetitions for each position)
  • Double leg hip bridges (10 repetitions)
  • Quadrupeds (10 repetitions on each side)
  • Toe yoga (10 repetitions times for each foot)
  • Fire hydrants (5 repetitions on each side)
  • Knee circles forward (5 repetitions for each leg)
  • Knee circles backward (5 repetitions for each leg)
  • Single-leg balance (~30 seconds for each leg)

After these exercises, I did a cool-down, which included foam rolling and eccentric lengthening exercises for ~10 minutes, as shown in the video below. You can also do the active isolated stretching exercises, as shown in the video below, or use static stretching and/or yoga poses.

Recommendation: For beginners and those who have taken a significant amount of time off, you may want to start your training by running three days per week. Other runners may want to start with 4-5 days per week. So, depending on your running history and fitness level, I recommend the following:

  • Beginners (such as those wishing to complete their first marathon):
    • I recommend doing an easy walk for 15-20 minutes.
    • Also, you may want to perform any of the following mobility and strengthening exercises that you know how to perform properly:
      • Leg swings forward and back with both straight and bent leg (5-10 repetitions of each for each leg)
      • Leg swings side-to-side with both straight and bent leg (5-10 repetitions of each for each leg)
      • Single-leg stand (~15-30 seconds for each leg)
      • Standard or knee-assisted pushups (5-10 repetitions)
      • Monster walks side-to-side and forward and back (done with or without a resistance band, 5-10 repetitions for each direction)
      • Prone planks (20-30 seconds)
      • Side planks (15-20 seconds)
      • Supine planks (10-15 seconds)
      • Clamshells (10-15 repetitions on each side)
      • Y, T, I, and W (5 repetitions for each position)
      • Double leg hip bridges (5-10 repetitions)
      • Quadrupeds (5-10 repetitions on each side)
      • Toe yoga (5-10 repetitions for each foot)
      • Fire hydrants (5 repetitions on each side)
      • Knee circles forward (5 repetitions for each leg)
      • Knee circles backward (5 repetitions for each leg)
      • Single-leg balance (~15-30 seconds for each leg)
    • In addition, I recommend foam rolling, static stretching, yoga poses, or active isolated stretching for at least 5-10 minutes
  • Intermediate/Advanced (those runners who have completed at least a couple of marathons and have not taken a significant amount of time off from running):
    • Dynamic warm-up. You may want to do the same dynamic warmup as yesterday, so that you start getting used to that specific dynamic warm-up so that it becomes easier.
    • Then, I recommend a 30-45 minute run at an easy pace, ideally in a primarily flat area.
    • The effort should feel easy. You want to focus on those important adaptations that will help build your “aerobic engine” including strengthening your heart, building more blood vessels and capillaries, improving blood flow.  So don’t push too hard and enjoy it and let your “aerobic engine” build.
    • After your run you may want to perform any of the following mobility and strengthening exercises that you know and can perform properly:
      • Leg swings forward and back with both straight and bent leg (5-10 repetitions of each for each leg)
      • Leg swings side-to-side with both straight and bent leg (5-10 repetitions of each for each leg)
      • Single-leg stand (~15-30 seconds for each leg)
      • Standard or knee-assisted pushups (5-10 repetitions)
      • Monster walks side-to-side and forward and back (done with or without a resistance band, 5-10 repetitions for each direction)
      • Prone planks (20-30 seconds)
      • Side planks (15-20 seconds)
      • Supine planks (10-15 seconds)
      • Clamshells (10-15 repetitions on each side)
      • Y, T, I, and W (5 repetitions for each position)
      • Double leg hip bridges (5-10 repetitions)
      • Quadrupeds (5-10 repetitions on each side)
      • Toe yoga (5-10 repetitions for each foot)
      • Fire hydrants (5 repetitions on each side)
      • Knee circles forward (5 repetitions for each leg)
      • Knee circles backward (5 repetitions for each leg)
      • Single-leg balance (~15-30 seconds for each leg)
    • In addition, you should perform a cool-down that incorporates foam rolling, static stretching, yoga poses, or active isolated stretching for at least 10 minutes

Tip of the Day: To maximize running performance and minimize the risk of injury, you need to do a cool-down after your workouts (this might be after a run and/or mobility and strengthening exercises, which I will discuss in a later post). There are different types of cool-downs you can do. Below are links to videos for two cool-downs; active isolated stretching/flexibility and foam rolling. It is important that you length the muscles after running and break up any adhesions or scar tissue in muscles that could cause shortening of the muscle, and thus, negatively impact running form and increase the risk of injury.

Active isolated stretching:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1080&v=wSUNK3SJWVE

 

Foam rolling:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=7&v=oEJjHW4A1U0

 

Please let me know if you have any questions, or if I can be of help in any way.

Be your best self today.

 

Your friend and coach,

Brian

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cooldown: I Hate Static Stretching So I Don’t Do It – Part 2

In my last post I talked a bit about different cooldowns that you can perform after your workout, including active stretching, which can be beneficial for lengthening muscles and tendons.  I highly recommend performing a cooldown, which incorporates either active stretching and/or what I discuss in this post.  Another type of cooldown, which can be just as beneficial, if not more, is foam and/or ball rolling with eccentric lowering exercises.  This type of cooldown will address mobility issues within the muscle, which is commonly affected because muscle fibers, which undergo micro tearing when we run and perform other types of exercise, haven’t properly repaired.

If you run today, it will typically take the muscle fibers a couple of weeks to repair from this run.  But who waits two weeks before their next run for the fibers to properly repair?  So, we can facilitate this repair process with foam and/or ball rolling with eccentric exercises.

So What’s the Issue?
The problem with muscle fibers that don’t properly heal and repair after a run, or strengthening workout, is that they clump together and they’re not in their normal proper arrangement or alignment.  Scar tissue can develop in this area as well.  This decreases the mobility in this area of the muscle tissue and causes this area of tissue to be under more stress the next time we run.  This can increase the risk of significant injury in that area of the muscle, as well as affect the function of the joint(s) connected to that muscle through tendons.  This can also lead to compensations in which other muscles are used instead.  This can cause these compensatory muscles to get overused and tight as well, further increasing the risk of injury.  A prime example of an overused compensatory muscle is the TFL or tensor fascia latae, which is located on the front (just under the hip) and towards the outside of upper leg.  An overused TFL can contribute to the development of a whole host of injuries, including iliotibial (IT) band syndrome, plantar fasciitis, knee pain, just to name a few.

Step 1 To Addressing This Issue
A great way to break up the clumps of muscle fibers and scar tissue is by rolling, either with a foam roller, lacrosse/tennis ball, or other devices, such as The Stick.  I highly recommend using a foam roller and lacrosse ball.  Basically, you will slowly roll on the muscle for 30-60 seconds and then identify areas in the muscle that are sore or tender.  This is where the clumps of muscle fibers and scar tissue are located.  Now apply pressure by resting the foam roller or ball on this area for 30 seconds.  You might also increase the amount of pressure by crossing the non-rolling leg.  By rolling and applying pressure you will break up the clumps and scar tissue.   This can also cause that area of the muscle to relax.

Some areas in which muscle tissue mobility is compromised in most runners, which I recommend that you roll include:

∙ Hip flexors/quadriceps – roll along the front of the upper leg from just above the knee to just below the pelvis/hips

∙ TFL – it may be best to use a ball, roll on the front and slightly to the outside of the upper thigh, just below the pelvis

∙ Adductors – roll along the inner thighs

∙ Hamstring – roll on the back of the upper leg from just above the knee to just below the hips/pelvis

∙ Glute/piriformis – it may be best to use a ball to roll on the glutes

∙ Calves – roll from just below the knee to just above the ankle

Now on to step 2…

Step 2 To Addressing This Issue
You might think of muscle fibers as a straws and you want to line up these straws so that they are parallel to each other.  Obviously these straws aren’t parallel to each other if they are in clumps.  Now that we have broken up the clumps with ball or foam rolling, we can take the next step to get our muscles to properly function again.  To realign the muscle fibers so that they are straight and parallel again we can perform body weight exercises, in which we focus on the eccentric or lowering/lengthening phase of the exercise.  This is sometimes referred to as the “negative”.  In performing these exercises, I recommend assisting on the concentric or shortening phase of the exercise so we can focus on the eccentric phase to get the most benefit.  I recommend starting with at least 10 repetitions of the eccentric exercises, ideally increasing the total repetitions to 20-40.  Keep in mind that you don’t have to perform all repetitions in one set.

The eccentric exercises that I recommend you perform include:

∙ Leg raises for hip flexors with slower eccentric lowering:
–  Sit on the ground with both legs straight
–  Place a rope or band underneath one the upper legs
– Use the hands and arms to raise the leg
– Slowly lower the leg using the hip flexors to control the lowering of the leg

∙ Romanian deadlift focusing on slower eccentric lowering:
–  Stand with feet shoulder width distance apart
–  Slowly hinge from the hips
–  Lower until you feel a stretch in the hamstrings
–  Raise up to the starting position and repeat

∙ Calf raises focusing on slower eccentric lowering with one foot:
–  Stand on a step so that your feet are hanging halfway off the step
– Gently rest one hand on the railing for support
– Raise up on your toes with both feet
– Slowly lower with one foot

∙ Leg raises for abductors with slower eccentric lowering:
– Lie on your side with your hips stacked on top of each other
– Raise the top leg and then slowly lower it

∙ Leg raises for adductors with slower eccentric lowering:
– Lie on your side with your hips stacked on top of each other
– Bring the top leg in front of you so that the foot is flat in the ground
– Raise the bottom leg and then slowly lower it

I strongly encourage you to watch the video below for a demonstration on how to perform these two important steps on the muscles in which mobility is commonly an issue in runners.  I recommend that you perform these steps 3-6 times per week.  If performed consistently you should be able to improve your tissue mobility and thus, your running performance within 2-3 weeks.

Depending on the time you have available, you may not be able to perform the foam and/or ball rolling and eccentric exercises after your workout.  If this is the case, at least perform some active stretching and then perform the rolling with eccentric exercises later in the day, such as when you are watching television.

I hope this has been helpful.  If so, please pass this along to anyone you feel might benefit.  Also, leave any questions or comments that you have in the comment box below.  Also, please feel free to post your questions and comments below the video.  I look forward to hearing from you!

 

Cooldown: I Hate Static Stretching So I Don’t Do It – Part 1

Cooldown is a critical component of your workouts.  A cooldown is important because it can help facilitate bringing the heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure back to their normal, resting levels.  Also, a cooldown can facilitate removal of by-products produced from your workout from the exercising muscles.  One of these by-products is lactic acid, which is converted to lactate.  Lactate is actually a primary fuel used by the heart.  Lactate can also be recycled in the liver to reform glucose, which then can be used again as a fuel the next time you exercise.  Isn’t the human body great!

There are different types of cooldowns and one which will help facilitate what I just described is walking for 5-10 minutes.  This is certainly something that I recommend after your run workouts.  I also recommend a cooldown, which will address the length or mobility of the muscle.  In this post and the accompanying video, I will address a cooldown to improve muscle length.  In the next post, I will discuss what you can do to improve muscle mobility, which for many runners may be a more important issue to address.

 

What Is Static Stretching?

It seems every time I run I see someone performing static stretching, either before or after their run.  You may already know this, but I want to make sure everyone is on the same page.  Static stretching is used to stretch muscles while the body is at rest. During static stretching the muscle is gradually lengthened to an elongated position (to the point of discomfort) and held in that position, typically for 30 seconds.  Static stretching is meant to increase or at least maintain the length of the muscles and tendons, which are constantly being shortened when we run or perform strengthening exercises.

 

Does Static Stretching Really Work To Improve Muscle Tissue Length?

Several years ago when I was in graduate school I worked at the university’s wellness lab where I was earning my degree.  As a graduate assistant at this wellness lab I was involved with exercise testing, developing exercise programs, and demonstrating exercises to university staff and faculty.  At this wellness lab we recommended static stretching for those who exercised there.  However, I remember the director sharing in private with me that even though we recommended it, static stretching doesn’t really work.

Unfortunately, I did think too much about this until several years later as I incorporated static stretching after my own workouts, and have recommended it to other runners I have worked with.  Then I began reading more of the research and here it what I found…

Research suggests that to fully realize the benefits of static stretching you need to hold a stretch for 3-5 minutes!  Also, to lengthen the muscle you need to perform static stretching 4-6 days per week and it will typically take 10-12 weeks before you get positive results.

If I’m in a yoga class, holding a pose or a stretch for minutes is possible because I have the instructor constantly cueing to help distract me.  However, if I’m not in a yoga class, holding a static stretch for 3 minutes, even with my favorite music playing is a real challenge!

 

Is There a Better Option?

Fortunately, yes!  Research suggests that there are more effective ways to improve muscle length than static stretching.  These include techniques such as proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) and active stretching usually referred to as Active Isolated Stretching (AIS, developed by Aaron Mattes) or Active Isolated Flexibility.  These techniques typically involve contracting either the muscle we want to stretch first, or contracting the opposing muscle.  This can help trigger the nervous system to cause the muscle we want to stretch to relax, so that we can more effectively stretch that muscle than with static stretching.

I won’t discuss PNF in this post, but will focus on AIS.  In AIS, you contract the muscle or muscle groups opposite the ones you want to stretch for 1-2 seconds and then relax and repeat 5-10 times.  You can gently assist the stretch using a rope or your hand.

In the accompanying video I demonstrate several stretches that I recommend you incorporate into your cooldown.

 

Here is a description of each stretch:

Hamstrings:

–          Lie on your back with your right leg straight and a rope or band wrapped around your foot

–          Keeping your right leg straight, actively lift it as high as possible, then give gentle assistance with the rope until you feel a stretch

–          Keep your opposite leg in the ground by pushing your heel as far away from your head as possible, contracting the glute

–          Pull the rope above your head

–          Exhale and hold for 2 seconds and then relax

–          Repeat 5-10 times

–          Switch legs and repeat

Quadriceps:

–          Lie on your side with your knees curled up against your chest (fetal position)

–          Relax your neck, resting your head on the surface or on a pillow

–          Slide your bottom arm under the thigh of your bottom leg and place your hand around the outside of the foot, if you can’t reach the foot stabilize the knee

–          Contract your abdominal muscles to keep you from rolling

–          Reach down with your upper hand and grasp the shin (or ankle or forefoot) on your upper leg

–          If you are unable to bend your knee sufficiently for you to reach your foot with your hand, use a band or rope and wrap it around the ankle and grasp the ends

–          Keep your knee bent and your leg parallel to the surface on which you are lying

–          Contract your hamstrings and glutes and move your upper leg back as far as you can

–          Use your hand to gently assist

–          Exhale and hold for 2 seconds and then relax

–          Repeat 5-10 times

–          Switch sides and repeat

Psoas (hip flexor):

–          Get in a table top position on hands and knees

–          Reach back with your right hand and grasp your right ankle

–          Contract the hamstring and glute muscles to lift the right leg until the thigh is parallel to the ground

–          Be careful not to arch your back

–          Use your hand to gently assist

–          Exhale and hold for 2 seconds and then relax

–          Repeat 5-10 times

–          Switch legs and repeat

Gluteals:

–          Lie on your back with both legs extended straight

–          Rotate the leg you are not stretching toward the midline of your body by pointing the toes inward, this stabilizes the hip

–          Using your abdominal muscles and hip flexors, lift your bent knee toward the opposite shoulder, keeping your pelvis flat on the surface

–          Place your hand on the outside of the knee and gently guide it toward the opposite shoulder

–          To get a deeper stretch place the opposite hand on the shin and press your heel toward the floor as your knee nears your shoulder

–          Exhale and hold for 2 seconds and then relax

–          Repeat 5-10 times

–          Switch legs and repeat

Adductor (Inner thigh):

–          Lie on your back with a rope or band wrapped around one foot, it should be wrapped around the inside of the lower leg

–          Hold on the end of the band or rope in the hand on the same side as the roped leg

–          Actively lift your leg as far to the side as possible, then give gentle assistance with the band or rope until you feel a stretch

–          Exhale and hold for 2 seconds and then relax

–          Keep your opposite leg on the ground by pushing the heel as far away from your head as possible, contract the glute

–          Keep your toes pointed upward

–          Keep your back in line and your shoulders on the ground

–          Repeat 5-10 times

–          Switch legs and repeat

Abductor (Outer hip):

–          Lie on your back with a rope or band wrapped around the outside of one foot

–          Hold the end of the rope or band in your opposite hand with your free hand out to the side

–          Actively lift your leg across your body as far as possible, and then give gentle assistance with the rope or band until you feel a stretch

–          Exhale and hold for 2 seconds and then relax

–          Keep your non-roped leg on the ground by pushing your heel as far away from your head as possible, contracting the glute

–          Keep your toes pointed upward

–          Keep your back in line and your shoulders on the ground

–          Repeat 5-10 times

–          Switch legs and repeat

Gastrocnemius (Outer calf):

–          Lie on your back with a rope or band wrapped around your right foot and your right leg raised in the air

–          Actively pull your right foot to your shin and then give assistance with the rope

–          Exhale and hold the stretch for 2 seconds and then relax

–          Perform 5-10 repetitions

–          Switch legs and repeat

Soleus (Deeper calf) and Achilles Tendon:

–          Lie on your back with a rope or band wrapped around your right foot and your right leg raised in the air

–          Bend the right knee

–          Actively pull your right foot to your shin and then give assistance with the rope

–          Exhale and hold the stretch for 2 seconds and then relax

–          Perform 5-10 repetitions

–          Switch legs and repeat

 

 

References

Anatomy for Runners.  Jay Dicharry

The Whartons’ Stretch Book.  Jim and Phil Wharton

Core Endurance Performance.  Mark Verstegen and Pete Williams