Countdown To Race Day

Exactly a week to go for the Tata Mumbai Mumbai (formerly the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon), one of the largest long distance running events in Asia. Training has been accomplished over the last six months; now all that’s left to do is rest and be ready for race day. I won’t be doing a very long run this weekend; just a few short runs in the next couple of days, to keep the circulation going – not so much to tire out by next weekend.

Stretching will be important in the coming week – better flexibility helps the body to move more freely and efficiently. And a variety of stretches serve the purpose. Dynamic stretching is done before a workout to actively warm up – to prepare the joints for movement, and muscles for optimal activation. Static stretches are designed to hold a position for a joint or muscle, and are done after a session as part of the cool down routine. Stretching provides relief from cramping, improves range of motion in the joints, decreases the chances of any potential injury, and some studies also point towards reducing delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Stretching inhibits the Golgi tendon organs (GTOs) and thereby reduces cramping by preventing an automatic tension in the motor unit. Most endurance athletes are known to display poor posterior chain flexibility (glutes, hamstrings, claves). Static stretching increases range of motion and decreases potential injury by increasing the number of sarcomere series (muscle fiber units), in response to the interaction between mechanical tension and the reaction from the nervous and immune systems. This causes the muscles and surrounding tissues to become longer, and puts less pressure on the pain receptors. Static stretching also decreases procollagen production, that causes collagen fibers to align in a more beneficial pattern. Various schools of exercise science point to durations of fifteen to thirty seconds as most beneficial for a static stretch.

Some examples of typical dynamic stretches for runners would include:
~Walking lunges
~Side stretches
~Hip circles
~Calf raises
~High knees
~Butt kicks
~Leg swings to the side, and front and back
Static stretches would include:
~Hamstring stretch – touching the toes, either standing or seated
~Calf stretch against a wall
~Iliotibial band (ITB) stretch
~Quadricep stretch
~Hip flexor stretch
~Glutes stretch
These would usually be performed before (dynamic) and after (static) a run. But being a runner does not mean only working on the lower half of the body. In general, holistic stretching needs to form an integral part of one’s training plan – upper and lower body, right and left sides, core and extremities – all joints and muscles need to be worked on for the body to function efficiently as one unit. Make stretching a part of the regime, along with endurance and strength training. And have a happy race and finish strong.
A pause to take in the sights at a previous edition of the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon.



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