So I like to make sure that the things that I am writing and preaching about in Meg in the Meantime are things that I am actually doing and putting into practice myself–this post is definitely such the case and something that I’ve struggled with over the years, but feel as though I have finally found the balance that I need to live well on the go in my busy life.
“What is it?” you may ask…well, if you’re a loyal reader then I’m sure you’re pretty familiar with my recent kick of incorporating active stretching into my run training routine (if not, then check out my old post “Stretch It Out“). Although active stretching only takes about 10-15 minutes before working out and has made me feel better and stronger during runs I know that there is more that I can do outside of my active training sessions; what I struggle with is finding the perfect, undisturbed time and the motivation within myself to make it a daily habit.
And so, on Monday night when I was doing one of my first official speed workouts with Becca for our B.A.A. 10k training regiment (more to come on that during my next Friday Feature post!), she was talking about how she wants/needs to start stretching more each day and how that would make her feel as she continues to add more running/biking/walking miles to her week. I mentioned a Men’s Health article that I had recently found on Twitter called “This Man Stretched 10 Minutes a Day For a Month This is What Happened,” which focuses on the notion of loose muscles being stronger muscles and highlights some solid deep stretches. Anyways, pretty soon Becca and I came up with our own recommendations for how we would incorporate at least 10 minutes a day of stretching into our daily days–and they range from the very obvious times to other, more creative opportunities, but both we hope give you (and us!) the ability to create a solid wellness habit from.
- After you wake up. This is an easy and mindful way to start your day and slowly wake yourself up so that you are not stumbling to the shower or coffee pot! Simply begin by stretching your body out completely while in bed (hands over head, feet out straight or together with knees knocked outward for a deeper hip stretch) and then when you’re ready, roll out of bed and take it to the floor: perhaps do a few sun salutations to get your blood flowing or focus your stretching on a particular achy area that you’d like loosened up before you start your work day.
- Before you go to bed. This is another easy and obvious time to stretch, but instead of doing stretches that will get your blood flowing, like sun salutations, perhaps try something more calm and controlled, like happy baby, rag doll, legs up the wall, body twist. You can always complete your before-bedtime routine by laying out for some quite meditation on an acupressure mat like the Spoonk. What’s a Spoonk? Read about it here in my old post “This Thing Called ‘Spoonking.’“
- Before/after dedicated workout time. I hope you’re doing this already, but if not make sure to get to your fitness class or the gym a little earlier than expected (or stay a few minutes later) and really dedicate some quality stretching time. If you’re running do some active stretching for 5-10 minutes beforehand (inch worms, downward dog, power walking, quick half pigeons, etc.) and leave time for a deeper, cool down stretch afterwards to target specific muscle groups–your body will thank you later!
- During work. Most of us tend to sit all day at a desk and only get up to walk around for a coffee or bathroom break or to go another meeting where we will inevitably sit some more. So why not stretch while you’re sitting?! Open your hips with a figure four seated stretch, kick off your shoes and roll your feet with a tennis ball under the desk (as I highlighted in a previous post, “Wellness When You Can“), or check out any of these standing and sitting stretching suggestions, like shoulder/chest stretching, chair twists, and wrist stretching, as outlined by The Yoga Coach in the article “Yoga at Your Desk.”
- Watching TV. This is your opportunity to get comfortable (or, uncomfortable) in some really deep poses, like half pigeon pose, wide-legged forward bend, runner’s lunge, or downward-facing dog. Think of the benefits of stretching and watching TV in this way: you can unwind from your day with something entertaining and engaging while also taking care of your health and wellness instead of just sitting there like a bum (I’m the queen of multitasking so this is one of my favorite times to stretch…I’m definitely known to break out my yoga mat and plop right down in the middle of the living room and stretch) and you’re able to time out your stretching session for a full episode if you’re really enjoying it or be cued to switch up which body parts you’re focusing on along with commercial breaks. Win, win!
These are just a handful of recommendations, but I’m curious to hear from you–what are some good times that you like to consistently stretch for 10-15 minutes? I would love to compile a larger list of suggestions to share with others. As always, feel free to comment below or send me a note on Twitter: @meggielukes, using #MegInTheMeantime to call it out to my attention.
In the meantime, I’m counting down the days (THREE!!) until the B.A.A. 10k–that is my next big race on the agenda and something that Becca and I have been training hard for for the last eight weeks: building up our strength and endurance again after a brief running hiatus and really stepping outside of our comfort zones and trying new things (RunYoga Series with Cara Gilman and occasional speed work on the track to challenge ourselves). In preparation for setting a PR goal time, I decided to look up my last 10k, which was the Lone Gull 10K that I ran last September in Gloucester, MA with a finishing time of 1:01:23–not so great, but more importantly I know I can do better and so I’m shooting for under 1 hour this go around. I’m hoping that all of this hard work and consistent training pays off and that I will blow this sub 1-hour 10k out the water, but more importantly, I’m curious to see if my new and happier outlook on running will have an effect on my race time, as well. We’ll see–I can’t wait to report back about it next week!
Be well and talk with you soon,