No matter if it's your first run you are preparing for or your tenth, there are some things that you just have to do. That is, IF you want to continue running safely & without injury. Sure, you can probably go out and run a 5K with little to no training, little to no stretching program, BUT……it never lasts forever. Believe me. I remember when I began training for my first ultramarathon. I had come off of a marathons that went very well for my first and I was ready to get training for my next distance! It was great, until we started to increase the mileage of my training runs. I began to notice first my ankle pains, which forced me to rest & sstretch for a week, then my knee pains, which forced me to take off another 4-5 days and stretch. It was very discouraging. I began to question if I had what it took to do it. My coach ensured me that rest was needed, despite my best efforts to sneak in shorter runs too early. I learned my lesson after these two setbacks and learned to listen to my body more. I realized, as a lot of runners may not in the beginning, that taking needed rest time will NOT erase all the progress you have made. Continuing on an injury could potentially take you out for the season if not longer.
Listen to your body. It knows best!
I am a huge advocate of pushing yourself, trying to achieve those next goals and challenging yourself. I am however, as a trainer myself, that you need to restrain yourself, especially if you tend to puch to the upper limits. I have clients who will barely do what is prescribed for their training and then those who I need to make sure don't go above and beyond and end up in overtraining mode. Believe me, it may sound obsurd, but it is more difficult to slow someone like that down then to push someone who may not be motivated.
Listen to those who know. You don't need to go all out every workout to succeed. It will likely end up setting you back.
Sretching, hmmm, well. It's no surprise that I mention stretching and am about to mention HOW important it is to a long lived running career. I will be candid, I am NOT a fan of stretching and by no means to I look forward to doing it, BUT…..it is a MAJOR piece of your running program. Of ANY fitness program for that matter. As a runner, you are putting a great deal of stress on your lower body, as well as your respitory system yes, and all that stress needs to be dealt with. If you are a beginner runner, sure you may be able to run everyday and not stretch and be just fine. This will NOT last. I promise you. If you're looking to continue on to your second race, third, or even your 15th, you MUST integrate a stretching regimen somewhere in your day. It doesn't mean you need to spend 2 hours everyday stretching and foam rolling. But it does mean that 20-30 minutes everyday is necessary.
Stretching is a critical part to a successful running career and success in your races. Period.
For those of you experienced runners, this probably isn't anything new, but for those who are just starting out, be smart. My best advice I can give you is to move slowly through your progressions. Don't feel like you need to go from a 5K to a marathon in one year, or even two. Work on building a good base, keeping yourself progressing through mileage changes, speed workouts, planned races, and REST. Yes, rest. The one part that seems to be forgotten about and the one part that holds a great deal of clout when it comes to keeping you running. Be smart, take a slow start