I’ve been running, although not always consistently, for more than 22 years. Among the good running habits I’ve failed to consistently practice: stretching.
I’m not sure why I’ve never had a stretching regimen. I wasn’t a high school or college athlete so I didn’t learn stretching on a sports team. I started running early in my marriage, as an adult; I can’t recall my then-running partner (husband) ever stretching before or after runs, so I didn’t either. Or maybe he did, and I just didn’t see the point.
It could be that I rarely felt the need to stretch — until now.
I’m running my 2nd marathon in 5 days. Preparation for this race has been more difficult than training for my last one. I’ve had more aches and pains, recovered from long runs more slowly, and struggled to keep paces that I once achieved easily. In the midst of trying to run through the difficulty, I’ve incorporated more stretching.
I’ve even stopped in the middle of runs to stretch. In doing so, I’ve discovered the value of stretching. Stretching warms my muscles; stretching adds flexibility. When I stretch, I can run faster with less chance of injury. Stretching stretches.
Doing something physically hard — training for this marathon — is making my body stronger as I stretch before, after, and during runs. At the same time, I am gaining mental stamina and fortitude as I also stretch my perceptions of what I can do. I am not confident that I’ll finish this marathon because the miles come with ease. It’s because they’re difficult but I’m committed anyway that I know I can finish.
When you stretch, either literally or figuratively — that stretching stretches you. The act of extending beyond what you thought you could reach makes you reach farther. By attempting more, you achieve more. By extending effort, you increase results.
It’s ironic that I never stretched in my running life because I am always stretching in my work life. I consistently choose to do more than seems possible while setting goals that require that I stretch beyond my limits. As I stretch, my stretching stretches me.
If you want to go farther, in running or life, stretch.