Lesson #4 – Running is a Complete Body Sport
Perhaps one of the most valuable lessons I have learned over this year long journey is that running is a complete body sport. It’s as much about every other muscle group in your body as it is about the power of your legs.
From my personal experience, I can tell you that your back and hips play an important role in efficient running. In particular, if your back muscles are tight or weak, some other part of your body will start compensating. At first, this isn’t such a big deal, but over time it adds up. Back muscles might not be such a big area of concern for other runners, but for me, it is. I take 10 minutes before every run and do stretches specifically for my back. So far, so good. And I’m thankful I came to realize this.
With regards to hips, I’ve always thought I had pretty flexible hips. Many of the hip opening yoga poses are fairly easy for me. What has needed work is my hip strength. Back in February when I really injured myself, I think it was a combination of weak hip flexors and tight back muscles. I spent a month working on my hip flexors and the difference has been amazing. I can now feel my hip flexors engage and facilitate smooth running. I feel more upright when I run and overall, my hips feel stronger. Hip exercises have become a routine part of my workout schedule.
Runners get injured. It happens. But I think it’s incredibly important to analyze why we get injured. What part of our body is weak or tight? How has our mileage increased? Have we been too hard on our bodies without enough rest? We have to reflect and we must get in tune with our bodies. Many injuries don’t have to happen.
Happy Trails & Happy Running,
Running Update: I have to admit, I didn’t want to run today. I was incredibly tired and it was almost 90 degrees outside. But I spent some time reflecting on my running goals and made it out the door. It was hot. Really hot. And I had 8 miles on my schedule. Much to my surprise, in spite of the heat, I had an awesome run. The goal was to focus on easy and not push to a point where I felt like I was really trying. My last two miles were 7:40 and 7:35 and that actually felt easy. Perhaps all the hill running is starting to pay off. Stats are here.