If I'm running, someone is probably chasing me. I understand the practicality given certain situations, such as avoiding a mugging, or an ex-boyfriend. But for recreational use it is last on my list of preferences. I was recruited for the cross-country team in high school because of my height. The coach must have assumed tall girls make great runners. Well in my case it's not true, and if it is I couldn't muster up the desire to give it a fair shot. Our pack ran all over the neighborhood dressed in shabby uniform sweats, past drab subdivisions, small town businesses, and through the woods. Deep thoughts popped into my brain. Who are we running from? Aren't we just going in a big circle? I'd rather climb that tree than run past it. Isn't this the beginning of shin splints, sprained ankles, and arthritis? I came to my senses and hid in the woods, sneaking out of practice and the silly activity called running for good.
I imagine the runner's high that people talk about must be gratifying or everyone would drop out of the race. Maybe it's the satisfaction of pushing yourself to your physical and mental edge that does it for some people. The Runners Guide tells us benefits may include weight loss, improved cardiovascular health, improved bone health, and improved mood and better coordination. That sounds good. Common injuries also include Achilles tendonitis, Chondromalacia (runner's knee), iliotibial band syndrome, plantar fasciitis, shinsplints, stress fractures, pulled hamstring, sprained ankle, and more! All useful running resources recommend stretching before and after a run for injury prevention. My runner friends know this but few of them actually take the time. A friend who is 27 has chronic hip pain from running and has to get cortisone shots! She loves it though and will probably run for as long as she can.
So if you must run, I propose surrounding your workouts with yoga. Yoga will remind your body of its proper alignment, release instead of over-stretch muscles, calm your mind and cultivate focus. All of which you'll need for running anyway. If it's high intensity that you're after, a good yoga class can push you to your physical and mental edge also. I'll leave you with this short series designed to practice before and after your runs. It focuses on releasing the hip flexors, hamstrings, and calves with a little knee and shin therapy too. Enjoy.
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