Easier Said Than Done

I was about to title this post “Just Relax Already!” but I thought the answer was better than the prompt. What’s this post about, you ask? Two seemingly unconnected topics that have been circling my brain as of late.

The first is regarding stretching. As most of you know, I’ve been religiously stretching almost everyday. What I quickly noticed is how short I used to hold stretches for. It wasn’t until the PT-recommended regimen that I realized that holding a stretch for 30 seconds is WORLDS APART from what I used to do; namely, half-heartedly holding a stretch for ~5-10 seconds. Another (totes obvs) thing I realized is that stretching is boring. That’s why there’s no such thing as “passive TV watching” in my life anymore. Any time we’re watching a show or movie, I’m sprawled out on the ground, stretching and rolling.

Finally, and this is the thing I wanted to write about, what I’ve noticed is that there are different phases of a stretch. The first is when I get into the stretching position. I immediately feel the stretch in the desired muscle group. However, as I get about 10 seconds into the stretch, I sometimes notice that I’m tensing up in other muscle groups. For instance, when I do a spinal twist stretch, I notice that my bottom leg, the one that’s not actively stretching, often tenses up. Then I have to actively release that leg so that I can get into a deeper stretch. It was really weird to me at first, but then I realized that it sort of makes sense. If your muscles are tight, stretching can hurt at first and your body reflexively compensates in a way to minimize the discomfort.

Everyone takes to stretching a little differently, so I’m not trying to tell you what to do. However, if you do like stretching or find it helpful, I think it’s worth trying to hold each stretch for at least 20 seconds. Then, during the stretch, do a mental body scan and check your various muscle groups for tension. If you notice any tension, try to release the muscle if possible. If not, just breathe, relax, and try to deepen your stretch. If you can, hold stretches for longer than 30 seconds. Every time I start the butterfly stretch, my knees are up near my armpits, but over the course of 1-2 minutes, they get much closer to the ground. So, even if you don’t think you’re very flexible, perhaps you just haven’t given your body a chance to really respond to stretching.

***

The second thing I wanted to write about was my low-level anxiety re:the Oakland Half Marathon. I was fretting about it the other day; specifically, I was fretting about whether I could meet my “A goal” of under 2 hours. And even more specifically, I was fretting about whether I could go sub-2 on a long course. Last year, I ran it in 2:05:40 over 13.25 miles. That extra 0.15 miles is the difference between running a 9:09 pace and a 9:03 pace… basically, it’s the difference between hard, but doable and hard, and I might die. OK, so I’m being a bit dramatic, but you know what I’m saying, right?

I was voicing my concerns to the Gypsy Runner the other day, and he (wisely) told me not to over think it. True, but I can’t help myself. He also told me that I’m a much better runner than I was last year. Also true, but it’s hard to believe that when I feel like I’m running so slowly most of the time these days. So, my anxiety is being fueled by one part lack of confidence plus one part lack of courage. I haven’t yet worked myself up to the point of accepting the pain that will be required to suffer through 13.1+ miles of 9-minute miles. But I think I will get there in the next 3.5 weeks. And until I do, I guess there’s no point in worrying too much about it.

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About

Howdy! My name is Jen and I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I like to eat, run, and blog, but not usually at the same time.

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Posted in Goals, random
10 comments on “Easier Said Than Done
  1. Amy says:

    As a chronic worrier…I understand all of your fretness. I completely think that you are going to dominate the heck out of this half marathon. 3.5 weeks is plenty of time to convince yourself to dig deep when things get rough. You can do it!

  2. Angela says:

    I soooooo think this is going to happen. You just had a great 5K PR!! Is the course the same (& thus long) again this year? I thought I heard something about some changes but I don’t remember exactly (like maybe they were going to get rid of that little out-and-back at the beginning?).

    • Jen says:

      Thanks, Angela! Re: the course, they did get rid of that awful U-turn at Broadway & Telegraph, but there are still some tight turns in the beginning. One nice thing is that they got rid of a lot of out-and-backs in Chinatown (that section seemed ridiculously long to me last year). Most of the course is the same though, and there are still 40+ turns!

  3. Dominick S. says:

    Here it comes…STOP IT…you got this! You have been a strong runner this year and although it seems daunting, don’t underestimate the power of your mind and the potential of the well oiled body you have, you are a running machine. I am not going to say you are going to go sub 2 because we never know what can happen, but I will say that you have prepared yourself physically to do it, and it sounds like you’re getting there mentally. 3.5 weeks, train right, and then focus that energy on the day of your race. I am excited for you.

  4. Cathryn says:

    I understand how badly you want this. All you can do is train your best and then run your best. You can’t ask any more of yourself than that! Adrenaline and good music may do the rest 🙂 I’m so excited for you, in any case.

    • Jen says:

      Thanks, Cathryn! You’re totally right. As long as I try my best on race day, then I won’t be disappointed… regardless of what the clock says.

  5. Tammy says:

    And some caffeinated goo during the last bit!

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