4 min read
Your muscles contract and lengthen with every movement, in different groups and places. Before exerting any force on your body, you need to warm up. You also need to cool down after a workout, allowing your body to get back to normal levels.
Over the time that I’ve been training, the primary warm up I have used is a yoga routine containing stretches for running. This year I have also been periodically supplementing this with massage, using a hard foam roller for my IT band, back and shoulders. For this, you could even use a tennis ball or try using your hands – a spa treatment is nice too when you have some extra disposable income (look at getting a voucher for a discount).
Flexibility is very important but often neglected in fitness. The way I see it, if your limbs aren’t stretched to capacity, your muscles have less room for growth. Yoga brings the added element of relaxation and meditation though it’s very important to always be mindful, feel that mind to muscle connection with whatever exercises you are practicing. With each breath, you should sink deeper into your stretches and feel the tension release.
It is also substantial to assess your goals in terms of strength and power versus endurance. Of course, with what I am doing right now which is (half) marathon training, endurance is the goal (21.1km). Though, testing your power can also be useful for long distance, splitting sprints and taking rests in between. Both strength and endurance are vital, just understand that endurance includes extra toning.
Most essentially, check with your GP if you’re feeling any discomfort or pain during training. They may be able to refer you to a physiotherapist who can prescribe you exercises to help with any sticky points. In my case, I was given a resistance band and the following instructions:
With my physiotherapist enlightening me that all I needed to do was stay active, obviously, it took a few months to comfortably integrate these into my routine after which I began Pilates home workouts (Blogilates releases a calendar each month along with other programmes and challenges), later still incorporating cardio with running when I started my training for The Vitality Big Half 2020, to which I am continually grateful.
Yoga and Pilates helped me a lot with toning, flexibility and perfecting good form and that mind to muscle connection. It’s only until two weeks ago that I finally took the plunge to get to the gym and gain some proper power with weightlifting. I am very weak at the moment, but I already feel the accelerated growth and cannot wait to get even stronger.
Don’t forget to follow along with my journey until the big day Sunday 22nd August 2021 as I will be sharing more on marathon training.