Stretching and warming up are very important parts of training and should not be overlooked. Do it right after a run when your muscles are warm and loose. This will help you feel better after a run, improve your stride, and help to prevent injury. Within 15 minutes after every run, be sure to do the following:
• Calf Stretch:
Stand up straight and place both hands on the wall. Arms should be fully extended. Take one step back with your right foot and put that same right foot flat on the floor. You will feel the calf muscle begin to pull. Gradually lean into the wall to feel the calf muscle pull. Do the same process with your left leg. During your first weeks of running, hold for 10 seconds. As you begin to increase mileage, work your way up to 20-second holds on each calf.
• Quadriceps: Stand up straight. Place your left hand on the wall. Pick up your right leg so that your right heel is coming towards your right buttocks. Take hold of your ankle or heel with your right hand and hold for 10 seconds. Do the same with the other leg. Again, like with other stretches, begin by holding the position for 10 seconds and gradually build up to 20 seconds as you move into high mileage weeks.
• Hamstrings: Sit on the floor with your legs crossed and tucked in. Extend your right leg so that it is straight in front of you while your left leg is still tucked inside. Extend your arms toward the toes of the right leg as far as you can reach and hold for 10 seconds.
• Groin: Stand with both legs spread apart about twice your shoulder width. Reach your hands towards your toes on the right leg. Then reach straight down with right hand on right ankle and left hand on left ankle to work both at once. Reach both hands towards your left leg to work the left side.
• Lower back and outer thighs: Sit on the floor with both legs stretched in front of you. Pull your right knee in so that your right leg is bent and shift your right foot to the left side of your left knee. The right side of your right ankle should be touching the left side of your left knee. Then twist your torso to the right as if you are turning to look behind you. As you turn, place your left elbow on the right side of your right knee and hold. Put your left leg over the right leg to stretch the other side.
• Inner Thighs: Sit on the ground with your feet tucked in. Push your knees down with you elbows and you will feel your inner thighs begin to stretch.