Coach Mike Mead


Stretching Your Limits

I have gone back and forth on the topic of stretching for many years.  If you are a runner of any ability, stretching needs to be part of your daily regimen.  How much and when one should stretch is debatable.

Let me start off by stating that when it comes to stretching, I do not practice what I preach.  Over the course of my lengthy running career (over 40 years) I have not been a consistent practitioner to stretching.  I will state that during my peak years – and successful ones, at that – I regularly stretched after each workout.

I have never been a believer or practitioner of stretching before a run.  There are a few “experts” who have sound reasons why one should not stretch before running.  There are a few running advocates who believe stretching before a run is important.

Again, I have been at this running thing for many years and I side with the non-stretchers before running.  Unless I had a tough workout the previous day, I rarely have stretched before a run.  To this day, I typically go out the door and start running.  Most days it is a slow jog that gradually picks up into a relaxed run.  There have been rare times where I got out the door and immediately started off with a quick pace.

I like to get me day going with a run and stretching just creates a delay to my start.  When I finish my runs, I used to spend anywhere from 10-30 minutes stretching.  It depended upon the effort.  If I was doing an easy run, or a long, steady run, my stretching did not take much time.  However, if I did a hard, fast run, or an intense interval workout, I usually would spend a good 30 minutes working out the kinks and trying to prevent having soreness for the next run.

That’s what I used to do!  These days, I’m not much for stretching.  My main excuse is that I am just not putting in the intensity or the mileage, nor am I training for competitive races anymore.  But that’s me.  I’ve been called a “freak of nature” by some of my running pals over the years.  Never really had any significant issues that hindered my running, except for an occasional bout with plantar fasciitis.  However, during my competitive years of running, I always took time to stretch after every run.

I still believe stretching is a critical element for those runners who are seeking to maximize their running potential.  There are different types of stretching one can incorporate into their daily routine.  With a wealth of information available on the internet, take a little time and do some research to find the stretches that best address the needs of an active, competitive runner.

Stretching is one of those details I advise my runners they must address daily if they seek to become an elite runner.  Stretching isn’t just done when one is feeling sore or tight.  Stretching should be as common as brushing one’s teeth.   Stretching is one of those details that cannot be ignored if you intend to be a competitive runner.

Talent and raw abilities will get you only so far.  It is those details like stretching, rest, nutrition, strength training, etc. that are the difference makers.  The great ones do not overlook the details.  That’s what separates the great ones from the average achievers and the wanta-bees! 

If you are striving to be above average, stretch your limits by attending to the details like stretching.  What do you have to lose?