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It’s early Saturday morning, and I’m getting ready to go on my long run and I’ve been looking forward to it for most of the week. In reality, I look forward to my long run so much each week it really helps me get through the challenges of daily life most weeks. There is nothing better to me than to lace up my shoes, warm up and get out there for a few hours of peaceful and relaxing running.
Why do I love my long runs so much? I’m sure part of it is I run these at an easy enough pace to be able to hold a conversation, which works out to be about 2 minutes slower than my marathon pace. It feels so ridiculously easy at this pace, I often wondered if I was really getting anything out of my long run.
About 5 ½ years ago, my daughter noticed a small bump on the right side of my neck and told me I needed to go see a doctor about it. She is a bit of a worry wart about medical stuff, but she also happens to be very persistent, so I went.
I wasn’t overly concerned, so you can imagine my surprise when my doctor told me I had Stage 4 Head and Neck Cancer. Not knowing much about cancer at that point, I asked her some questions; in particular, I asked her what Stage 4 meant. I can pinpoint the point in time I realized I was in deep trouble to when she answered “Well, there isn’t a Stage 5”.
After a short 24 hour pity party, we started looking at potential treatment options and agreed on the most aggressive one to start in a week so that had time to put in a feeding tube, and do a boatload of testing to make sure I could survive the treatment.
After the preparation, I went through 4 rounds of chemotherapy (losing about 40 pounds and all my hair) and 7 straight weeks of radiation, broken up only by a 5 day period where I had to go on steroids to reduce the swelling in my face and on May 14, 2015 I had my last treatment.
And, I’m happy to say, I’ve not only been cancer free but I’m probably in better shape than I have been since my 20’s having completed a Sprint Triathlon and become very serious about my running, nutrition and overall health.
This pandemic reminds me of this period of my life, and I think there are many reasons to use this crazy time period to better ourselves and come out in a better place. So, I’ve committed to running every single day during the pandemic and have come up with 5 reasons how and why you can use running to get through this and come out stronger on the other side.
How many of you read our 6 Reason Why the Walk/Run Method May Be For You blog with a little bit of skepticism? I know when I first started researching the idea, I approached it with quite a bit of doubt because the common sense of it told me, I’d run faster and longer if I rate at a slow, consistent rate. When I read up on the concept, I was somewhat swayed by the arguments but, truth be told, I really wasn’t sold.
But, I’m one of those athletes that has been injury prone for most of my life; I tore my right hamstring in Middle School, training for the Regional Track meet (a little brag here, I had won the District Meet in the 400 meter dash); I then tore that same hamstring playing baseball the following year; and, to add insult to injury I then ruptured my Achilles Tendon playing basketball in my late 20’s.
As I took up distance running as I got older, I tended to have calf strains primarily which seemed to happen later in my runs and, in particular, during my long runs. So, this research was about self-survival as a runner entering his 60’s but I determined the research was based on large groups of people and I wanted to know how it would impact ME!
Have you just started running? Maybe you’re coming back from an extended period of not running or possibly from an injury? Or maybe you are using the Couch to 5K method of training or you’re taking up running as you enter your middle age?
In any of these apply to you, I’m guessing you’ve been advised to use the walk/run method to get into or back into shape. In doing so, many people see this as a “means to an end”; in other words, they are using the walk/run method to build up to training and running races with a continuous run.
But, for some people, the walk/run method may be both the means and the end with benefits that will keep you motivated, injury free and running faster. That’s right, we’ll talk about some information that points to people running faster using the walk/run method, especially as the distance of the race gets longer.
So, what exactly is dynamic stretching and why is it good for runners?
Dynamic stretching is a form of stretching where the joints and muscles are stretched through their full range of motion; unlike static stretching, these movements are not held in an end position. Dynamic stretching is best utilized before running as part of a warmup routine as mentioned in our 6 Paths to Injury Free Running blog. It will prepare the muscles and joints to be used while running and will get your blood flowing and heartrate up prior to your run.
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