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May 29, 2008 3:45 AM   Subscribe

A runner's primer
posted by nthdegx (78 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Now that you're all standing at attention, let's focus on your hands. Are they on your hips? No? Then put 'em there, faggot."

This is not okay.
posted by kevin-o at 4:14 AM on May 29, 2008 [7 favorites]


Obscenity is the crutch of the inarticulate.
posted by leapfrog at 4:18 AM on May 29, 2008


kevin-o: We're listening in to a writer who is addressing himself in the character of a filthy-mouthed drill instructor in order to drive himself to excel in his sport. Drill instructors say lots worse stuff than this (not that I approve, myself). Beyond the dirty and abusive talk, the advice is good. I like this...

There are two concerns with eating and running. The first is do not eat right before you run or you will puke it up during the run. This includes shit like Gatorade, which has more sugar in it than your stomach is going to want to deal with.

Gatorade is liquid candy with the consistency of snot, and has nothing to do with actual athletics.
posted by Faze at 4:21 AM on May 29, 2008


"Now that you're all standing at attention, let's focus on your hands. Are they on your hips? No? Then put 'em there, faggot."

Jesus, I missed that. Apologies.
posted by nthdegx at 4:22 AM on May 29, 2008


Hmmm. Bipedal locomotion is a difficult and complex subject. I'm not convinced that my heel should strike the ground first, nor that I should be very erect while running, nor that I should stop my arms swinging in front of my torso. These assertions sound like cultural affectations rather than biomechanical facts.

Oooh, might go for a little run now!
posted by alasdair at 4:34 AM on May 29, 2008


Obscenity is the crutch of the inarticulate motherfucker.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:42 AM on May 29, 2008 [21 favorites]


A mix of good and very bad advice. In the latter camp, I'd put the part about how your arms aren't supposed to cross in front of your torso. This depends on your biomechanics.

Oh, and sand is the best running surface? No.
posted by zippy at 4:53 AM on May 29, 2008


Hmm. I totally forgot about kuro5hin.
posted by purephase at 5:20 AM on May 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


kuro5hin hasn't been ported to the Collaborative Media Foundation yet?
posted by DU at 5:20 AM on May 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is idiotic and offensive for at least a couple of reasons, but also, crucially, it's wrong:
Serious runners stretch. Stupid runners don't. Stretching reduces recovery time, prevents injury, and allows for other interesting activities. You should always stretch immediately after a run. If you're trying to improve flexibility, you should also stretch a mile (1.5 kilometers) into the run.
Research proves that stretching neither reduces recovery time nor prevents injury. The wikipedia article on stretching has some links to studies which demonstrate this, The Lore of Running by Noakes has others. Aside from the evidence (which should always get primacy), the truth is that "serious runners" are the least likely to stretch. Anyone who's spent any time at a local 5k would know that.
posted by OmieWise at 5:23 AM on May 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


Also, this? Singing while you run will also help build your cardiovascular capacity. Stupid.

It really is amazing. Running just isn't that hard, and this bozo writes primer filled with bullshit that will just make it harder.
posted by OmieWise at 5:24 AM on May 29, 2008


Not that it bugs me, but you posted this without noticing the (multiple) faggot references, the "sack of shit", "antisocial loser", and references to a marching cadence called Napalm Sticks to Kids?

Well, anyway, while we're here, is Hal Higdon generally well-regarded? He pops to the top of google searches for marathon and 10k training.
posted by rhys at 5:30 AM on May 29, 2008


Whenever nerds try to sound tough, my face and palm come together like magnets.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 5:36 AM on May 29, 2008 [6 favorites]


I've run at a national class (30:00) 10K level and I say that most of this is bullshit. It's bullshit for giving a lot of specific bad advice (sand, no running for weight loss (it's way better for weight loss than a bike) but in more general terms it's bad for giving so much specific advice period.

Running is the most natural thing we do. Advice like proper hydration to avoid heat stroke, eating a bunch of carbohydrates before racing etc. is just bullshit. I've had my best and most consistent training and racing when I just listen to the body and act accordingly - and this is running 90-100 miles a week. I don't eat when I'm not hungry. I don't carry a water bottle around with me. I don't stop and stretch in the middle of runs. I don't focus on breathing. I don't focus on posture. That stuff comes naturally and you adjust automatically. I run on all surfaces unless they're annoying or overly difficult (hey like sand). I stretch as a general routine and because it feels good, and not because some wanker says I need to because I don't need to.

You're ultimately an animal. Lots of animals in the wild run all day long and eat nothing but wildebeest guts and a sip of pond water. Trust evolution.
posted by jimmythefish at 5:42 AM on May 29, 2008 [19 favorites]


Obscenity is the crutch of the inarticulate.

Yes, but the occasional, well-placed "What the FUCK?" has its own sort of simple eloquence.
posted by middleclasstool at 5:46 AM on May 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


Running for Weight Loss

Don't. Get a bike instead.


Odd. You think an abusive running instructor would have something more to say to those fat sacks of shit.
posted by three blind mice at 5:49 AM on May 29, 2008


Those of you who read the linked article as a serious attempt at giving advice to runners? Don't do that. It's a kuro5hin article. That means it's a half-step from adequacy.org's worst. Read it instead as an attempt at humor, good or bad.
posted by blixco at 6:12 AM on May 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


"but you posted this without noticing the (multiple) faggot references, the "sack of shit", "antisocial loser", and references to a marching cadence called Napalm Sticks to Kids?"

No. I noticed the "sack of shit" and "antisocial losers" references.
posted by nthdegx at 6:29 AM on May 29, 2008


I followed LilDebbs (this is a man!) and found that I lost weight. Have I done something wrong?
posted by Postroad at 6:33 AM on May 29, 2008


jimmythefish Running may be efficient to loose weight, but running while seriously overweight is also quite an efficient way to bust your knees. And then you are likely to end up as a panting lardarse in a rolling chair. So, the "Buy a Bike" advice seems quite wise. Now, you may be perfectly attuned to your body, not least because you run a lot, but lots of people, and certainly lots of wannabe runners aren't. I took part in a 20km race this weekend, in warm, wet weather, and despite plenty of water supply points and generally aware runners, I still saw plenty of ambulances and collapsed runners lying on the roadside.
posted by Skeptic at 6:56 AM on May 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


Well, anyway, while we're here, is Hal Higdon generally well-regarded?

Yes, I think so. His running plans were fantastic, particularly for someone newer to running who didn't know how to get started. Especially since there's different level running plans (novice, intermediate, etc). Two thumbs up.

And while we're actually talking about running -- I missed the signup for the Army 10-Miler. Anyone have a bib they want to transfer to me? Please? I'll paypal you all the fees and stuff!
posted by inigo2 at 7:04 AM on May 29, 2008


We're listening in to a writer who is addressing himself in the character of a filthy-mouthed drill instructor in order to drive himself to excel in his sport. Drill instructors say lots worse stuff than this (not that I approve, myself). Beyond the dirty and abusive talk, the advice is good.

Eh, then why not just substitute "maggot" for "faggot", which I am sure is the more acceptable official insult in the actual Army, at this point?

/NOT MAGGOT-IST
posted by availablelight at 7:08 AM on May 29, 2008


All I know is that if I don't do any stretching I get seriously sore.
posted by grouse at 7:28 AM on May 29, 2008


Eh, then why not just substitute "maggot" for "faggot", which I am sure is the more acceptable official insult in the actual Army, at this point?

Differing views on political correctness, self-censorship, how to deal with the power accorded to taboo words, etc.

Or just plain homophobia, who knows.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 7:29 AM on May 29, 2008


I'm trying to start up running, and considering those Vibram Five Fingers things. Aside from looking like chewbacca from the ankle down, has anybody gotten them and hated them?
posted by cashman at 7:40 AM on May 29, 2008


All I know is that if I do any stretching I get seriously sore at myself for wasting time. Forget the new age goo gah, let's get running, NOW.
posted by Xurando at 7:48 AM on May 29, 2008


Yeah, I don't quite understand all the "running is natural", "stretching is stupid" comments. From my somewhat limited experience, there are good and bad ways to carry yourself when running - if you've spent a good portion of your life hunched in front of a screen, it helps to be reminded to walk upright, keep your head up, pay attention to where your CG is, and roll your feet heel-toe to absorb the shock.

And I hurt without stretching too. The Wikipedia article sounds to me like the jury's out, and it probably depends on you, your base flexibility, and whether you are doing sprint or endurance running.

If you are a l33t runner and don't need to stretch or pay attention to your form, good for you!
posted by rhys at 7:52 AM on May 29, 2008 [2 favorites]



This is idiotic ... Research proves that stretching neither reduces recovery time nor prevents injury.

No, research does not "prove" this; the studies are still inconclusive. And while the nonfaggoty author... LilDebbie... is equally wrong suggesting that the opposite has been proven, he is correct that "serious" athletes tend to be the ones who believe otherwise:

New York Times: "The truth is that after dozens of studies and years of debate, no one really knows whether stretching helps, harms, or does anything in particular for performance or injury rates. Yet most athletes remain convinced that stretching helps..."
posted by dgaicun at 7:56 AM on May 29, 2008


"Still not getting it. OK, OK, I got it. I got it, I got it. Shit, I lost it."
posted by mikhail at 8:05 AM on May 29, 2008


On balance, this is a pretty dopey primer. For instance, leaning into hills puts undue stress on your lower back and makes your legs work harder. Only the steepest grades require you to lean forward to maintain balance; otherwise you are just wasting your energy.
posted by Mister_A at 8:08 AM on May 29, 2008


This is idiotic ... Research proves that stretching neither reduces recovery time nor prevents injury.

I don't get this either. I used to run a lot; I had a really bad hip muscle injury in high school the one time I didn't stretch beforehand. It could have been coincidence, but it convinced this single data point.
Years of karate and doing weird things with my legs convinced me too. My leg muscles, especially quads and hamstrings, just didn't feel right without stretching.
posted by jmd82 at 8:19 AM on May 29, 2008


I started running specifically because it doesn't involve the obnoxious, aggressive, browbeating-as-motivational-tool horsepuckey I found in team sports coming up. If that makes me a maggotfaggotsissy, well....here's my head getting smaller and smaller and smaller as I run away from you, you screaming simpleton.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 8:22 AM on May 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah, no. Not funny, not good running advice.
posted by fixedgear at 8:32 AM on May 29, 2008


I'm trying to start up running, and considering those Vibram Five Fingers things.

I've got 'em and used 'em, but not nearly long enough to give you meaningful, long-term feedback on. But FWIW, here's what I've found out from doing a few barefoot treadmill runs and a few Five Fingers street runs:

What they say about barefoot(ish) running reducing impact is true, in my experience. You're not going to slam your heels into blacktop for two miles straight, so you learn to use the muscles in your lower legs and feet to reduce impact. This will almost certainly drastically alter your running form.

Also, I'm an overpronator, but I've found I've got such better feedback from my feet and responsiveness when I'm not pushing against an inch or so of foam that it's easier for me to not pronate when I run. I've learned more about what's wrong with my gait from about five barefoot runs than I did in six months of marathon training, because I can feel more clearly what's happening.

However, this will likely force you to use those muscles in ways you're not used to using them when you run, so there will likely be some pain. This is especially true in my case, and has resulted in some Achilles tendon issues I'm monitoring. If it goes away fairly quickly, you'll likely be okay. But I'd recommend just walking around in them for a few days first to see. When you start running in them, go slow, run way shorter distances in them than you usually do in running shoes, just to keep an eye on things.

It's also just flat out harder to run this way, as you're putting energy into softening your steps as well as move forward. You're also forced to take a shorter stride, which may slow you down some. I don't regard either of these two points as bad, but they're a bit frustrating.

Bottom line: I'm not sold that running on these will be a great idea yet, but they have made a net improvement on my running form, so I'm glad I've done it, and I'm very hopeful that I can at least get up to doing my shorter (3-5 mile) runs on them to help with strengthening. Big, okay-it-may-not-happen dream is that I can run at least a half marathon in them.
posted by middleclasstool at 8:40 AM on May 29, 2008


I don't think the evidence about stretching and running is all that inconclusive. There are certainly still questions to be answered, and studies to be done, but if the prevailing myth were not that "stretching helps" then the answers provided by the studies would be considered much more conclusive than they are.

The linked NYTimes article contains several statements that seem to bear out my position, despite the quoted line above: "If your goal is to prevent injury, Dr. Gilchrist said, stretching does not seem to be enough. Warming up, though, can help. If you start out by moving through a range of motions that you’ll use during activity, you are less likely to be injured." and "But distance runners do not benefit from being flexible, he found. The most efficient runners, those who exerted the least effort to maintain a pace, were the stiffest." and "She reviewed published papers, saw none that convinced her that stretching either protected people from injuries or improved performance, and became an antistretching evangelist." By contrast, there are fewer people quoted saying that stretching is actually helpful, and most of those are saying that the studies are inadequate to say that it's unhelpful.

Noakes writes about this in The Lore of Running: (p.752) "In fact, injured runners were those who stretched for longer before running (2 cites)." You can search inside on Amazon to read more about the relevant studies.

I'm not an anti-stretching nutjob or anything, I do some stretching and I think it makes me feel better in general (although I have never had it reduce soreness). On the other hand, I do think that the consistent call for beginning runners to stretch is not based in data, and is really the dogmatic position in this debate. (Warming up is absolutely crucial, though.)

Anecdotal experience is just that, anecdote. Just like the anecdotes from people who think stretching has saved them, I have been injured at least once (achilles tendon strain) from stretching. I just got back from a trail running camp over the weekend, a 150 runners, 70 miles over three days, all camping together, and I saw about ten people stretching over the whole weekend. (One of them was me.) My experience at the many races I do is that the slower runners are those most likely to stretch. I'm not claiming anything definitive in these anecdotes, but they are at least as valid as those supporting the myth that stretching is necessary.
posted by OmieWise at 8:46 AM on May 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


This is idiotic ... Research proves that stretching neither reduces recovery time nor prevents injury.

This I have a really hard time believing. I've been running fairly steadily for about 5 years. I need to stretch beforehand or I will pay for it the next day...
posted by autodidact at 8:51 AM on May 29, 2008


Nobody wakes up first thing in the morning, steps into their runners and bounds out the front door at full speed. Everybody either stretches or warms up.

I think the hardcore running types who are seen not stretching before races must already be warmed up. Stretching counts as a warm-up for most people like me.
posted by autodidact at 8:58 AM on May 29, 2008


Stretching counts as a warm-up for most people like me.

It shouldn't. Warming up is a completely different thing from stretching, and there are, indeed, studies which show that stretching without warming up increases injury risk. This is precisely what I mean about the danger and power of myth. From the paper linked below: At the same time, there might also be a risk of injury and impaired performance associated with stretching without adequate conditioning and/or warm-up.

Here is the study being reported in that NYTimes article (Google html of pdf).

I think this comment from the results section is interesting:
The limited epidemiological evidence more clearly addresses the question of injury prevention than its effects on performance. The three RCT in this study that address stretching and injuries fail to demonstrate a protective effect of supervised stretching (3,72,73). The three cohort studies (7,16,32) that find that stretching might prevent injury are small and are of lower methodological quality than the two recent RCT (72,73). Even pooling data from these studies demonstrated no significant protective effect. At the same time, the evidence is not of sufficient strength, quality, and generalizability to recommend altering or eliminating preexercise stretching.
In other words, the studies that show benefit are of poor quality, but even so, demonstrate "no significant protective effect," but we are unwilling to say that because of that you should not stretch. I continue to think that were the Null Hypothesis that stretching did not have benefit, these results would be much less equivocal than they are presented as here.
posted by OmieWise at 9:13 AM on May 29, 2008


I've had my best and most consistent training and racing when I just listen to the body and act accordingly

Unfortunatley my body is telling me to go home and eat burritos
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:17 AM on May 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


Ewwwww... I don't know what's worse - the thought of all that exercise or the verbal abuse that comes with it....

Also, having read peoples' comments, I wouldn't know whether to stretch or warm up (or both) now, so that seems as good an excuse as any not to break any lifelong habits.
posted by Monkeymoo at 9:35 AM on May 29, 2008


You guys go ahead and jack off to your studies all day. I'll be over here stretching for about five minutes...
posted by autodidact at 9:35 AM on May 29, 2008


Eponysterical
posted by OmieWise at 9:56 AM on May 29, 2008


You guys go ahead and jack off [...] I'll be over here stretching for about five minutes

Are we supposed to stretch prior to jacking off now? What's the consensus on this?
posted by everichon at 10:12 AM on May 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've always, even as a child, found running incredibly uncomfortable and awkward and frequently painful within a minute. I'm not fat, or even heavy, but my joints object to forceful impacts and my muscles can't stand more than two minutes of hard use. I walk a few miles a day but running five feet is out of the question. I'm in my mid twenties and under 140 lbs and reasonably healthy but strenuous activity destroys me. I sometimes think I'm another species. To all you runners, how can you do it?
posted by Grod at 10:18 AM on May 29, 2008


Yeah... that article was more humorous than helpful, but I dunno... I guess I'm retarded, but I chuckled a bit.

Speaking of being retarded, I'm also in the "no stretching" camp, and I've been running 40+ mile/weeks for years and years without injury. I do, however, warm up by starting slow and kinda easing into things. As a consequence, lots of people who look pretty confident that they're gonna beat me cruise by in the first couple miles of any given marathon, only to be annihilated later around mile 20.

I guess in the end, I'm pretty much in the jimmythefish school of things -- just listen to your body. Hydration is a good example... they used to say, "Drink ahead of your thirst," but it turns out the body is pretty good at signaling that it needs water through that mechanism.

I do, however, pay close attention to posture. As a chronic sloucher, keeping in good form helps out a lot with efficiency. I really dig Gina Kolata's pieces in the NYC Times for up to date info about that -- some thoughts on running form.
posted by ph00dz at 10:20 AM on May 29, 2008


Reminds me of my scrawny friend who tried to tell me I was doing too many push-ups.
posted by autodidact at 10:31 AM on May 29, 2008


What does?
posted by OmieWise at 10:43 AM on May 29, 2008


Being told not to stretch.

It doesn't correlate 100%. Basically my friend has no idea about exercise, and has never played a sport in his life. When I described my workout to him, he stated that I was doing too many push-ups. He proceeded to cite various interviews he's read with bodybuilders, etc... I then reminded him that I'm not doing body building and the human body is pretty good at signalling when you've done too much of anything. He wouldn't drop it and kept insisting that I was doing myself harm with the number of push-ups I described.

Not that anybody in the thread is really doing this, but I just find it really galling when someone who doesn't do "activity X" tries to act like they know better than me, because they read a study, or a magazine article, or saw some "expert" doing it one way or another.

It's also like my mom looking at every single website I design and saying "Make the text bigger, I can't read it!" even though she's half-blind and not even sitting in front of the monitor.
posted by autodidact at 10:56 AM on May 29, 2008


Yeah, that's an annoying friend, but no part of that is happening here. I'm not telling anyone not to stretch. You should certainly do whatever has worked for you. I am saying that stretching =/= warming up, and that there are studies (see Noakes) that suggest that stretching before warming up can lead to more injuries, but that isn't at all the same thing as saying not to stretch, and it's really a minor part of my larger point. My larger point is that recommending stretching to beginning runners is myth rather than data based. Because such recommendations make running seem harder than it needs to be, because they add to the time and concern novice runners need to invest, and because the results don't appear to be appreciably better, I disagree with the advice because I think it is more likely to limit new runners than help them. I'd rather work to expand the ranks of runners.

I cite the studies because otherwise the conversation is reduced to anecdote, which is unhelpful. (See the article linked for the FPP.) But don't mistake this for me not having anecdote to share: I run 70+ miles/week and race everything from 5ks to 100 mile races, with my preference being for longer stuff. I have an immediate community of ~25 serious runners, belong to local running groups that comprise at least 200 more, and regularly communicate with 100s of others. As one of my comments indicated, I was training with ~150 runners just this past weekend, where the runners in attendance collectively ran over 10,000 miles in the three days. But that doesn't really matter, because that just makes for dueling anecdote. I assure you, however, that I know about the studies because I love to run, not vice versa.
posted by OmieWise at 11:23 AM on May 29, 2008


STOP calling the need to stretch "a myth."

Are you seriously saying you'd advise a new runner, just starting out, that he doesn't need to stretch? I'm sorry, that's moronic, I don't care about your studies or your buddies. Moronic.

Maybe after you become conditioned as a runner, and know your routine and your own body well enough, you're limber enough by the time you're laced up to just get going, but a beginner should ALWAYS stretch. Otherwise, rather than be turned off by the concept of stretching, they're going to be turned off by severe aching in their little-used muscles.
posted by autodidact at 11:45 AM on May 29, 2008


What a lot of people don't recognise in the stretching vs. not stretching is that it isn't 100% related to just running. This also comes down to what is natural for people, what is habit and what sort of physical shape you're in. The average westerner is in really bad shape. Most of us eat too much refined food and do too little exercise, and do things like sit at desks all day, wear bad shoes (shoes at all really) etc. We were never meant to do these things.

Somewhere along the line a segment of the population figured that stuff like eating fried chicken and drinking coke and exercising 30 minutes a day three times a week was the baseline and totally normal and healthy for a human. These are often the same people who 'can't lose the weight no matter how hard they try'. I'm not preaching here. I'm drinking a Coke as I type this. I'm also fatter than I should be.

My point is that we were never meant to get obese or to drive cars or to go shopping. These things are as new as the day compared to what we're evolved to do. We're meant to hit the ground running from day one, and be active and to search out food and to stand most of the day. It takes western athletes 10 years to develop into world class athletes precisely because, as soon as we hit school and sit down all day, we lose the active lifestyle and become sedentary beings.

If you lived an active lifestyle and didn't wear shoes from day one and ran on grass or other natural surfaces your whole life, stretching wouldn't be a necessity. No other animal on earth does anything remotely resembling 'developmental stretching'. A cat or dog's back stretch is the most you'll see.

It hurts to run when you're not used to it, and this is why people think it's not natural. Most people (there are a few exceptions) 'aren't built for running' because of environment and not because of their inherent physiology. Stretching for a lot of us is necessary because of all the other shit we put our bodies through. Even running with running shoes is a new thing, and in my opinion contributes to a lot of problems.
posted by jimmythefish at 11:50 AM on May 29, 2008


I'm sorry, that's moronic, I don't care about your studies or your buddies. Moronic.

I'm sorry, too. I haven't felt the need to insult you or misrepresent your position, and so far, of the two of us, I'm the only one who has attempted to justify my opinion with reference to something other than solipsism.

Perhaps you should consider a different way of learning.
posted by OmieWise at 12:02 PM on May 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


For those of you who came to this post with the hope of finding the knowledge to start running.

1) Ask yourself whether you are healthy enough to run. If you don't know, schedule a physical today and then ask the doctor exactly that question.

2) Set up your routine first. Walk 3-5 times a week for a week or more. Moderate activity is good for you, too.

3) Promise yourself that the first weeks you will run as slow as you possibly can for very short distances. Half a block at a shuffle pace is a perfectly good place to start. 100 feet at a shuffle pace is another perfectly good place to start.

4) Walk whenever you feel you need it. Don't punish yourself. If you do, how will you motivate yourself over the long run?

5) Increase distance before you increase speed. Increase in small increments. Move up to a full block at a shuffle pace when you feel ready.

5) Worry only about two things: (1) Am I consistently getting out for my walk/run (3-5 days/week)?, (2) Am I rewarding myself for consistently getting out the door? No negative self-talk allowed before or after running.

5) Experience is the best teacher, and you get that from running, rather than reading.

That's it. You need nothing else. Consistency and incremental improvements are everything.

You can worry about everything else (stretching, shoe brand, technique) half a year from now. You will be amazed at your improvement by that time. See you on the road!
posted by ferdydurke at 12:06 PM on May 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


6) STRETCH

;D
posted by autodidact at 12:07 PM on May 29, 2008


I'm sorry, too. I haven't felt the need to insult you or misrepresent your position, and so far, of the two of us, I'm the only one who has attempted to justify my opinion with reference to something other than solipsism.

Perhaps you should consider a different way of learning.


Sorry if you feel insulted, but I honestly believe you are giving out bad information.

And I didn't teach myself how to run. Years of being coached in soccer, football, and track and field, followed by being a runner for about five years now has taught me quite a bit.
posted by autodidact at 12:09 PM on May 29, 2008


This has doubtless been posted before, in fact I might have read about it here. I used this very plan to do what it claims to do - to go from Couch to 5,000 metres - and I'd recommend it highly.

Also the person who wrote it didn't seem to find it necessary to include pointless abuse, which is a plus, as it suggests the plan was intended for grown-ups.

Stretching is good anyway, but I've found that doing elementary yoga properly in the morning has left me feeling better overall than rushed (and they do always seem to end up rushed) stretches immediately after exercise.

But then it will almost certainly be different for you.
posted by Grangousier at 12:16 PM on May 29, 2008


autodidact -- I always tell people not to stretch. I mean... stretching... what's even the theory there? That it helps with flexibility?

For running, your body has all the flexibility it needs. More flexibility leads to overextension injuries.

The difference, man, between your pushup hating friend and us is that we DO do this stuff. Now, I'm not the greatest runner in the world or anything, but I'll probably beat 85% of the people in the San Diego marathon this weekend.
posted by ph00dz at 12:20 PM on May 29, 2008


And some more technique tips from The Guardian. There was something in there about Alexander Technique and running, but I can't find it right now.
posted by Grangousier at 12:22 PM on May 29, 2008


Just for the record, you would tell a beginner not to stretch?

This is why I keep coming back to the thread.. I don't understand the logic here. From what I've seen the no-stretchers are all highly experienced and active runners, whose bodies are probably relatively tuned up for running at any given time. I can accept that, and in my own experience, I don't stretch as much on my 10th day in a row jogging as I do coming back on the first day after two months off.

Someone like my friend, however, is going to be in complete agony if he tries to go running for 45 minutes without stretching first. Are you claiming that he will not be?

Because, if it's up to the individual as to whether they're going to benefit from stretching or not, why would you ever advise someone not to? Either they stretch and don't get injured, or they don't stretch and don't get injured, or they don't stretch and DO get injured (from not stretching). Except for really poor form, and doing the wrong stretches before a long distance run, you're not going to hurt yourself by stretching. So, I don't see how it's ever statistically advisable to tell a beginner not to stretch...
posted by autodidact at 12:39 PM on May 29, 2008


Someone like my friend, however, is going to be in complete agony if he tries to go running for 45 minutes without stretching first. Are you claiming that he will not be?

If he runs at the pace he should (though 45 minutes for a non-runner might be a little long, btw), with a proper warmup (starting out slow, etc) and cool down (slowing at the end) then yes, my claim is he will not be sore.
posted by inigo2 at 12:46 PM on May 29, 2008


Slight clarification -- my claim is he will not be any more sore than he would with stretching.
posted by inigo2 at 12:46 PM on May 29, 2008


Or less sore.
Ok, that's it. I quit the internet.
posted by inigo2 at 12:46 PM on May 29, 2008


I honestly believe you are giving out bad information.

Oh, well I guess solipsism is as good an excuse for incivility as anything else.
posted by OmieWise at 12:48 PM on May 29, 2008


@indigo2, re: I missed the signup for the Army 10-Miler. Anyone have a bib they want to transfer to me? Please?

The Army Ten-Miler FAQ prohibits it, and several other races of the sort ban folks for years from participating if they transfer a bib or are an unregistered runner using a registered runner's bib. YMMV.
posted by t2urner at 12:52 PM on May 29, 2008


Dude, relax. I wasn't being all that uncivil. I asked if you were making a certain statement, and then said that if you were making that statement, that would be moronic. It's hard to qualify an "uncivil" statement any more than that.
posted by autodidact at 12:53 PM on May 29, 2008


t2urner > further down on the FAQ page....

Q: If I am unable to run the race can I receive a refund?
A: Sorry, entry fees are non-refundable, but you can transfer your entry to another person via the online Registration Transfer process.

Q: How do I transfer my entry?
A: On the ATM home page there is a link to the transfer page. Or you can go to the bulletin board and post your information there. The Online Registration Transfer Process is available from May 15 to August 8. There is a small fee for transferring registrations.

back to on topic, I am a graduate of the Couch to 5K program (as talked about here) and probably need to work on my form a bit.
posted by Lucinda at 1:01 PM on May 29, 2008


Although repeating "moronic" was not that cool I admit. I'll withdraw from the thread now.

(stretch, folks!)
posted by autodidact at 1:01 PM on May 29, 2008


Thanks, that's all the acknowledgment I was looking for. No need to withdraw over it, I'm happy to keep disagreeing.
posted by OmieWise at 1:23 PM on May 29, 2008


Just for the record, you would tell a beginner not to stretch?

If you are a beginner and you run more than 20 minutes your first time you will be sore if you stretch or warm-up or not. Unless your the type that doesn't get sore. In which case I hate you.

You should stretch to improve performance and mobility. However, stretching has been shown in some very convincing studies to not really prevent injury or even limit soreness all that much. A good warm-up does much more on both counts.

Stretching after an activity, while your still warm, will help with recovery. As in speed healing a little and prevent loss of mobility as things tend to stiffen while they heal. But people in the study who stretched and those who did not were still sore the next day. I'll try to find the study. I think I have it from a printed PDF at the gym.
posted by tkchrist at 2:52 PM on May 29, 2008


The jury on stretching is still out. Even professionals (physical therapists, sports medicine practitioners, personal trainers, and coaches) differ vastly in opinions on the matter. My experience has been that over the past twelve months or so, a new common ground has been reached and preached.

1) Always warm up at a moderate pace. For those who train by heart rate, this means roughly 60% of your max HR. The point of the warm up is to get the heart pumping and your parts moving. Some people believe any cardio will suffice or even that cross training with your warm up is beneficial. For a runner this might mean a swim before a run. Others would tell the same runner to jog or walk.

2) Active stretching, like yoga, is en vogue. Kinesiologist's beg to differ on its effectiveness and would tell you to run, walk, cycle, swim, or what have you, more efficiently. Stretching of any sort is not recommended before warming up. Some even believe that doing so increases the likelihood of injury. If stretching is not your bag, a tangible benefit can be achieve by employing myofascial release. There are numerous ways of achieving this. I swear by The Stick, but others are equally happy with foam rollers.

3) Cool down. And cool down slowly. Don't exert yourself hard for any length of time and then just stop. I don't know the science here, so someone else can comment, but it's a very common bit of advice.

I notice a huge difference in my recovery times and in sport performance when I use a warm up and the stick. Prior to using myofascial release before and after cycling, I was plagued by near constant iliotibial (IT) band problems, even when I was warming up and cooling down. Now that I use The Stick before and after every ride, I don't have any problems. Stretching never made a dent in the problems.

Your mileage will vary. Different bodies are well adapted to different routines.
posted by sequential at 2:53 PM on May 29, 2008


Yeah sequential I have found pretty much the same thing. Studying in Traditional Martial Arts, where they would insist on some very intense stretching ( and an even more intense warm up) before high intensity work-outs, I found many of nagging injuries actually increased.

I would argue this point repeatedly to the other instructors (since I had come from a Boxing background), but there was no bucking tradition. Even though all this intense stretching was crippling students and not producing any results (increased flexibility) at all.

Actual Sports Science was not their "bag."

My entire world changed when I went back to training on my own with an actual educated sports professional and lo' a methodical warm-up and cool down and light stretching AFTER... and not a single serious injury.

Also people forget Yoga should be treated like one would strength training. IOW: you need to heal. It's not really a same-day-as-intense-performance kinda thing.
posted by tkchrist at 3:14 PM on May 29, 2008


MetaFilter: Perhaps you should consider a different way of learning.
posted by jimmythefish at 3:33 PM on May 29, 2008


jimmythefish writes "You're ultimately an animal. Lots of animals in the wild run all day long and eat nothing but wildebeest guts and a sip of pond water. Trust evolution."

Yeah, well, I tried that - running was one of the few athletic activities I really liked growing up. Turns out I have a knee condition that acts up if I run consistently. Pretty hard on the knees. I can ski every weekend or bike and it doesn't bother me. But at least for the time being, I'm not required to run in order to survive. Lucky me.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:02 PM on May 29, 2008


I think a little bit of the "debate" about stretching might be due to comparing apples and oranges. For runners and other regular athletes, it seems that many experts think that static stretching *before* activity does not help and may hurt performance.

However, I think that most medical/physical fitness professionals believe that stretching muscles in general (not just for regular athletes) is a good thing. Maybe y'all are talking about two different things?

Recent studies have supported the beneficial effects of stretching. See LSU's Nelson and Kokkonen from October 2007 (I couldn't find the original study). They also have a book on Google.

"The study found that a regular stretching program may actually enhance performance, making people stronger and increasing their endurance."

Also, from the Mayo Clinic. (First Google result, ;)

No other animal on earth does anything remotely resembling 'developmental stretching'. A cat or dog's back stretch is the most you'll see.

Bollocks. Almost all animals stretch when they wake up, and most do it throughout the day. I'm not going to even bother looking it up.

Stretching in Horses Has Health Benefits
posted by mrgrimm at 5:09 PM on May 29, 2008


Listen to jimmythefish in his excellent post above. He speaks the gospel truth. I will also agree with Omiewise in regards to the issues about stretching.

In terms of breathing:
WRONG. I always took air in and out through both passageways, but I can't think of a single decent runner I've known who has breathed through their nose rather than their mouth running at any pace other than a leisurely jog. His breathing advice is excellent if you want to wind up passed out on the side of the road during a race, though.

I was a competitive marathoner up until early 2001 (I've run 2:41 at Boston, that was considered national class at the time for a female). I didn't stretch much, my form took care of itself as my muscles adapted to lots of miles and lots of hard runs. I never looked pretty when I ran and I had biomechanics that were terrible enough that people constantly remarked upon them (I have a severely rotated femur), but that never impeded my running progress. Running isn't figure skating (I should know), there's no extra points for perfect form. The winner is whoever gets from point A to point B first.

I was lucky enough to have had the unusual experience of training for a number of years with Olympic caliber runners, all of them full time athletes. Most of them *did* stretch, usually only before and shortly after hard track sessions, but they also did plyometrics, balancing exercises, drills, weight work, had regular deep tissue massages, and often worked with physiotherapists in addition to coaches. They treated their training as professional work, but how much of this supplemental work was done mainly just to fill up the dead space between actual runs, ward off the anxious thoughts that their competition might be training better/harder than them, and give their days much needed structure, is anyone's guess.

However, they generally bought in to the idea of micro managing every aspect of their daily runs (except for hard training sessions, and they had coaches that worried about those for them) and diet far less than the average recreational runner does. I used to meet a couple of guys for easy (for them) long runs and would often find them jamming Boston creme donuts into their mouths as they answered their doorbell, finishing the last crumbs as they tied their shoelaces and bounded down the front stairs for the road. Mind you, one of these men made the World Cross country team two years later, the other was (and still is, I believe) the current national record holder in 3 events.

What I learned from all of the great runners I was able to hang out with, and from my coach, was that running, at its core, is really basic. That is the beauty of the sport. There are no magic secrets (well, legal ones at least). To run at all is easy, it just takes patience and perseverance. To run fast takes patience, perseverance, and a lot of hard work interspersed with adequate recovery. There's no need to over think it.
posted by stagewhisper at 5:14 PM on May 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


Those that want to stretch before a long run, please do warm up first or you increase your risk of injury. In fact, some people initiate the injury during cold stretching. Don't stretch because you think it will prevent injuries: it won't. As Omniwise points out, this is not opinion or anecdotally based; it is science.

I, subjectively, have noticed a decrease in muscle soreness if I stretch after running, but I also notice reduced pain if I swim after running. There is some, but not definitive evidence that stretching after warming up increases endurance and strength. So I do it. But I don't expect it to decrease my injury rate.
posted by Mental Wimp at 5:40 PM on May 29, 2008


Apples and oranges might be the case between warm-up\stretching too. I guess a lot of what I think about as "stretching" actually is also a warm-up. I definitely make a point of limbering up\jumping about\climbing down 18 flights of stairs before I ever start stretching.
posted by autodidact at 6:35 PM on May 29, 2008


I was a competitive HS distance runner, and I think Jimmythefish's advice is a good start - listen to your body.

However, many new runners come from a sedentary background and have not spent time running 2 or more miles. So they do not necessarily know what a normal distance run feels like. They may think that side stitches are abnormal and that they should be out of breath for it to count as a workout. They may let their hands flop around not realizing that this makes their stride inefficient.

That's not to say that the basics are really hard to pick up, just that for the first few months it's good to have some sort of reference so you know what normal is.
posted by zippy at 1:11 AM on May 31, 2008


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