The Final Stretch

Whether you’re a novice runner or a multi-marathon veteranyou’ve heard the importance of a post-run stretch, but do you know what to lengthen and what needs to stay strong?  Pilates is a specialized regimen that properly stretches the muscles of the body with the strength and control necessary to help joints maintain a proper range of motion. Without specialized stretching and the opposing strength to hold the newly found range of motions, muscles can become tight and leave you susceptible to pain or injury. 

So, what muscles need stretching? Any physical activity utilizes a whole range of different muscles, but targeting the ones that are being used the most during your runs will be most effective and help you improve in the long run

1. The Quadriceps

Quadriceps_3D

Your Quadriceps, or “Quads” are comprised of four separate muscles on the front of your thigh. This area can be overused during running and may be one of the first areas you feel soreness in, especially in a marathon like Boston that starts off downhill!   If not lengthened out properly, tight quads can cause a misalignment in the leg joints.

2. The Calves

Calf Muscle

Courtesy of lumen learning

Made up of two separate muscles on the back of your lower leg, the calves are an often overlooked, but essential piece of your running anatomy. If weakened or tightened, the calves can affect the movement at both the knee and the ankle joint.

3. The Hamstrings 

Hamstrings

You might not know exactly what or where your hamstrings are, but chances are you’ve felt them. The hamstring is a grouping of three muscles that run the length of the back of your upper leg. Although the hamstring is important for knee and hip movements, runners often forget or neglect to stretch them out. The hamstrings are important hip mobilizers and they also help to stabilize the pelvis.  Maintaining the right flexibility for a runner can help with muscle fatigue, overuse, and even lower back pain!

4. The Iliotibial (IT) Band

Tensor fasciae latae

While the Iliotibial band is not a muscle it plays a vital role in your body’s mechanics for running. The IT Band is a fascial band that spans the outer knee and thigh. It is part of a system that contributes to hip movement and knee stabilization and is used constantly during a run. The IT band is meant to be tight in order to control the position of the leg, yet becomes overly tight and overused when the glutes and inner thighs are weak.

5. The Gluteal MusclesGluteus_all.gif

Did you know that your Gluteus Maximus (aka your backside) is the largest and heaviest muscle in your body? It is also one of the laziest!  Your glutes are made up of three main muscles and several smaller ones that make many of your lower body movements possible. Sitting all day and general inactivity leads to these muscles becoming underutilized and weak, so it’s important to give them the attention they deserve. On the flip side, overuse of the Gluteal muscles can affect hip flexibility and overall pelvic stability.

Now that we’ve covered the basics of which muscles need stretching, you still need to know HOW to stretch them! Endurance is excited to announce two FREE upcoming seminars for runners of all skill levels: 

Runners Relax and Renew

Tuesday, April 16th at 10 AM: 

For our friends running the Boston Marathon, we are hosting a 45-minute post-run stretch and meditation session to help rejuvenate the muscles and embrace your amazing accomplishment!

Sign up HERE.

Saturday, April 20th at 1 PM: 

Inspired by your friends running the marathon? If you’re interested in running next year or just looking to jump head first into the sport, join us for an Intro to Running class where we’ll cover injury prevention, scheduling, nutrition, and cross-training. Learn how to run with the Endurance Method, the safest way to run with your butt and gut! 

Sign up HERE.

Why We #RunBold and You Should Too

(Photo by Servidone Studios)

Choosing to run the Boston Marathon is an amazing commitment to, not only months of training in the dead of the winter, it is a lifestyle decision- an extremely positive resolution that comes with a passion for moving and fitness and a resolution to give back to the community through fundraising and personal example.  It is a choice to put health first, to prioritize activities and to manage time to include hundreds of hours of running and training while seeking donations for a particular cause.  Running is a very physically demanding activity and the mileage necessary to comfortably approach the marathon distance is significant.  Most serious runners plan on running every single day- I know that is usually my plan, so when life gets in the way and I do have to take a day off, I am not taking a step back in my training. Some days are recovery runs and some are speed, others are long runs.  Even if it is just a mile to shake my legs out, putting my running shoes on and heading out the door is a meditation, therapy session, coaching exercise for me.  By choosing to run, I put my health first.  Of course, my son is my priority- as soon as his needs are met, he is on the bus or at his activity, then I get to run.  In fact, every single member of a runner’s family becomes involved with the runner’s dedication- especially when that alarm goes off at 6AM on a Sunday morning or another email is sent to friends and family asking for fundraising support!  We learn to prioritize, plan ahead and hopefully inspire even within our families.  I will never forget an essay that my son wrote a few years ago naming me as his hero for finishing a particularly grueling marathon in a winter storm.  A runner truly inspires by example in his or her training, healthy and nourishing fuel choices and lifestyle.  I won’t have time to meet you for coffee, too much sitting time, but I would love to join you for a 5 mile run!

At Endurance, we applaud and support all of our marathon runners- present, past and future.  It’s usually not a surprise when a new student walks in and explains his or her fitness background with the words, “I’m a runner/triathlete/doing my 10th Boston,” and right away we welcome them with an understanding of an athlete’s particular needs for cross-training, understanding of athletic schedules, active rest days and exactly everything we can help with. 

A few years ago, I had run a few marathons and made the declaration that, in general, for my health and fitness, I wanted to stay in good enough running shape to be able to run a half-marathon on a few days notice.  As of today, I have run 21 marathons- and I have also learned that at the age of 43, I am lucky enough to lead a healthy lifestyle that allows me to jump in and run a full marathon on a couple weeks notice. I am in better physical condition than I was in my twenties and I am very proud of the example that I am for my son, friends and students.   There is no greater feeling in the entire world than crossing that marathon finish line- every single time I do it, I decide to look for another.  I am proud beyond words and passionate enough about yet another that I immediately start to think about “the next time”- that next marathon.  To put it on the schedule, start and plan the training.  Running is an absolute gift- I am privileged to have such a passion for the sport.  It has shaped my fitness, personality, drive and dedication- there is nothing in the world that I cannot accomplish if I put in my best effort.  Run bold- make the decision to try it, to try it again, to become better at it.  You may be surprised at just how much you can accomplish- in greater ways than you ever dreamed you could.  Keep pushing the limits!  Running has made me a better mom, wife, business person, friend and citizen.  Make the decision to Run Bold- to make health and fitness a true priority in your life- you have no idea where it could take you!

50 Legs Charity – Why it is SO IMPORTANT!

On April 16, 2013, I woke up to the news that my friend Carmen’s sister Celeste had needed both of her legs to be amputated.  Celeste had been at the finish line of the Boston Marathon with her family to watch Carmen finish this amazing endeavor that she had chosen to accomplish to raise money for Dana Farber in honor of her family’s experience with cancer . 

When I read this news, my blood ran cold.  At that moment, I knew what Celeste’s life was going to be like.  I knew that she would be the same amazing sister, mom, wife that she had always been, but she physically would be different.  And, that it would be a lot of work, a battle, a constant challenge.  I will NEVER forget the moment later on in the news reports that I heard Carmen say, “I thought that I had lost everything that I had loved” and to this day, it hurts my heart to know that Carmen felt this way.  I knew from the moment that I heard of the injuries that so many sustained in Boston in 2013 that I could help, that my experience with my mom and with Pilates, I could help these folks!

My mom was a juvenile diabetic, diagnosed at the age of 8 in 1955.  By the time she was in her 50s, her doctors told her, she had the body of an 80 year old.  Our lives were dictated by her disease- early dinner times, sports/activities that we were not allowed to play because of conflicts with a very strict dinner time policy.  We watched daily insulin shots and feared reactions.  She had  her first heart attack at 42, when my sister and I were seniors in high school.  We had stayed at a friend’s house overnight after our homecoming and came home to our family leaving church for the hospital.  We felt guilt for years for not getting to the hospital right away- no cell phones in 1990!  She had a quadruple bypass my sophomore year in college, her first leg amputated my junior year.   We had a bathroom in our home on the first floor with a raised toilet, chairs in the bathtub for the shower.  We had acquaintances that were not nice- that called my mother, “Peg” and asked stupid questions and made fun of our family.   People that were uneducated, ignorant and ridiculous and this sort of behavior would never be accepted today.  Our real friends still remain the way they were 20 + years ago in helping us learn how to live with our mom’s disability.  My mom danced at my wedding with her prosthetic leg in flats.  And, quite frankly, they were ugly- big gross Mary Janes and I know she hated them.  This was a huge disappointment for her and I will never ever forget the day that she gave me all of her high heel shoes- I still have every single pair- I was her only daughter with feet the same size. 

My younger sister’s big circle of friends were much more compassionate, but we had already left for college.  When my mom had her second amputation, I was married and in my very early 20s.  I felt like they were pulling pieces of my mom apart- literally tearing her away.  And, her prosthetics were revolting- a disgrace.  She could barely walk after her second amputation.  Nobody tried to help her.  It was almost accepted that she was in a wheelchair for most of the time.  Her prosthetics were ugly, uncomfortable, humiliating.  I was disgusted at the time with her prosthetists, but had no idea how to help or even where to interject.  I still get upset to the point of vomiting at the sight of her old prosthetics which bound her to a wheelchair instead of assisting her to walk.

So- haha- to why I love 50 Legs?  OMG- because Steve has saved SO many lives.  Has recognized that people shouldn’t have legs that keep them put.  That should demand the latest technology in order to get moving again.  Prosthetics are not cosmetic, they are functional AND immensely so!!! But, some insurance companies beg to differ.  50 Legs provides better prosthetics for folks that may not be able to afford on their own or via insurance.  Prosthetics need to be adjusted EVERY few weeks depending on the time of life a patient is in.  And replaced anywhere from every few months for an adolescent, athlete to every few years for an active adult.  With costs in the tens of thousands, EVERY SINGLE AMPUTEE DESERVES the best leg available.  50 Legs helps with this mission.  Paying it backward for my mom who had horrendous prosthetics that prevented her from walking- I WILL NEVER EVER EVER EVER LET that happen to anyone that I know.

I have had the pleasure of volunteer training many folks  post prothetic fitting that have been helped by 50 Legs including Celeste Corcoran and Jeff Bauman along with several of the other folks affected by the Marathon Bombings along with those amputees who became injured in other accidents. 

I am running the Boston Marathon this year to raise money for 50 Legs, an AMAZING foundation that provides funds for kids and adults in order to afford BETTER prosthetics than their insurance will provide.  Prosthetics that will get them up and going- running, hiking, walking, biking!

PLEASE CHECK OUT MY fundraiser page and I hope to see you at the marathon.  This will be my 22nd Marathon- Like my mom, I don’t give up.