Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Stretching Your Limits for 5K Training

Housecall is featuring an eight-week training program that will get you ready to run a 5K race by February. The program was prepared last year by Susan Hastings, co-owner of Fleet Feet of Stuart running store, and it was so good we wanted to present it again.

Her goal is to get you excited about running in the third-annual “Fleet Feet Run for Your Heart 5K.” The run takes place Feb. 7, 2009 and proceeds will benefit the Frances Langford Heart Center at Martin Memorial.

We’ll post the program two weeks at a time and a new version will come out every other week. So lace up your running shoes and prepare to follow along. And we'll see you on race day!

Okay, you’ve been training for two weeks now and if you’ve followed the schedule you are well on your way.

Several things can make your life easier as you continue on your quest to add running or walking to your lifestyle. I’ll talk about stretching on this blog, because it’s an important aspect of helping you remain injury free. I’ll explain a few basic stretches that will focus on the main muscles you use when running. Do each of these three stretches three times each and hold each stretch for 30 seconds – it’s as simple as that.

Calves: Stand facing a wall with your arms slightly bent in front of you on the wall, feet hip-width apart and toes pointing forward. Bring one leg forward with the knee slightly bent and lean into the wall a little. Hold the leg in back straight, with heel on the ground and knee straight, for 30 seconds. Then bend the knee slightly (you should feel the lower part of you calf stretching now) and hold for 30 seconds. Switch legs and repeat with this leg. Do this three times.

Quadriceps: Start where you can hold onto something with one hand and bend one leg behind you and grab your ankle. Your leg should be bent behind you with you holding it up as close to your rear end as possible. The most critical thing is to be sure your knees are even, the bent one is as far back as the one you’re standing on, and it is not flared out.

Hamstrings: Take one leg and raise it in front of you and place your heel on a raised object such as a bench or car bumper. Keep your knee straight as you bend forward, trying to get your forehead as close as you can to your knee. This is a very slow movement, so lean as far forward as you can and hold the stretch for 30 seconds.

Stretching should be done after the muscles have warmed up so it’s never good to jump out of bed and go straight to stretching. In a perfect world you should walk or slow jog for a little, stop and stretch, and then continue on, stretching again when you finish. In the real world you should at least stretch when you return from your run or walk. The least you should do is take an extra 15 minutes and stretch when you finish.

Now for the next two weeks of your training:

Week 3 – Alternately jog/walk, varying the segments between 200 and 400 yards, for a total of 1 1/2 miles. Same workout for all three days.
Week 4 – Alternately jog/walk, but walk only half the distance for each jog. Vary the segments between 1/4 and 1/2 mile for a total of 1 3/4 miles. Same workout for all three days.

Have fun with it!

--Susan Hastings

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