Thursday, April 24, 2008

Back on Track: track intervals, kickbikes, and two new stretches

Wednesday night was the first track workout for the Gate City Striders. I love doing intervals on the track. It brings me back to high school and college pain and fun. When track workouts start, I start getting into shape. I haven't done speedwork since the end of October or raced in 2008 so I wasn't sure how enthusiastic and cooperative my legs would be.

The weather was warm and perfect. I decided to celebrate the weather by riding my Kickbike to the track (about 4 miles). I haven't used it since the summer so I knew I would get a double dose of sore muscles by the end of the day.

The workout was 5 x 1000m. I did them all a little bit under 3:45 pace which is a 6 minute mile pace. The hips were wobbly and my stride was off kilter but it was good to finally get some faster paced running in

My left lower back tightened up right above the hip but I still had to kickbike home. After getting home I tried a bit of a Yoga routine that someone named Sadienardini put on the Runner's World discussion boards. She writes:

"Hi all, Sadie here. I'm the Director of East West Yoga in Manhattan. Every year around Marathon time, I begin to include the following poses for my runner students. Do them, in sequence, after you run when you're still warm for the greatest benefit. You'll release knees, calves, achilles, quads, hamstrings, IT band, hips and low back--all in less than to minutes! It's a great investment.

Try a Downward-facing Dog Pose first to get a gentle stretch down the back of your legs.

Then do all 4 poses for a minute or longer each. This is when the body starts to make real changes in your flexibility. Breathe slow and deep through your nose, to calm your body and mind, and get a ton of oxygen in to help cart away the lactic acid that can make you sore later.

1] Runner's Lunge: from hands and knees or downward dog, put one knee down, step the other foot between your hands next to the same side thumb [right foot to right thumb]. straighten the front leg and flex your toes back as you pull your hips bak. Fold over your front leg with a straight spine.

2]Funky Foot Lunge [gets the peroneal muscle along the side of your calf + the outer knee and IT]: from Runner's Lunge, step the same front foot to the opposite hand [right foot to left thumb]. roll to the pinkie toe outside of the foot, and lift the big toe side off the floor.

as you bow forward, straighten your front leg and keep pulling that hip back to square. as you progress, try lifting the back knee and doing it with 2 straight legs. Yowza!

3] The Magic Pose: Pigeon. This pose should be in every runer's stable. It opens every single muscle below the waist, which in turn opens every one above!

From hands and knees, place your right knee behind your right wrist. let your foot move over underneath your left hip somewhere. make sure your front knee is slightly wider than your hip.

Scoot your back leg straight out behind you, in line with its hip. your hips should be squared forward, even if you're high off the ground. That just means you need it

You should feel a stretch in your front leg hips, glutes and/or hamstring, and your back leg psoas [front of the hip]. As you progress, you won't feel as much sensation, so to go deeper, widen your front knee + move it slightly back, and slide your back leg behind you more.

Lean forward, forearms down or on a block, release your head, and breathe.

4]Magic Quad Stretch: from Pigeon, squeeze your knees into the floor for support, and bend your back knee, and being sure to keep the foot and shin aligned over your thigh, reach back with the same hand [right hand, right leg].

take the outer foot or ankle, and gently press your foot back into your hand to cause a slight muscle contraction [protects from overstretching] AS you pull the foot closer to your hip.

Return to hands and knees, or Dog Pose, and repeat all 4 poses on the other side.

Over a short time, this sequence will make a huge difference in your flexibility, joint health and performance."

I did a light version of the Funky Foot Lunge (I liked the way it felt earlier in the day) and it seemed to get rid of my hip tightness. That is cool!

Then I found this version of a hamstring stretch that I also really liked. It is located with some other good stretches here. It is called the Hamstring Rotational Stretch and comes from the Sports Medicine Institute International.

"Hamstring Rotational Stretch
Standing Version
Stand on your right foot and place your left heel on a surface well below waist
level. Face straight forward and keep both knees locked. Lean forward from the
waist and keep your back straight until you feel a good stretch. Rotate your torso
right and then left so that you are alternately facing to the inside and outside of
your leg. Repeat for 20 reps while gradually increasing the stretch. Stay relaxed
and keep you movements slow and controlled. Try pointing your toes towards your
head and away from your head in order to modify the stretch.
Repeat above exercises reversing the positions and movements of the right and left

I liked the movement of the torso over the hamstring. It seemed to hit a spot where I am very tight. After the stretches, I felt better than I would have expected. Now I am just sore, instead of sore and out of alignment!


brian estey said...


does your kickbiking help you feel more flexible? how do you use it?

Jim Hansen said...

Hi Brian,
Yes, I used it heavily a few years back to supplement my running. I kicked 127 miles straight one day (I wasn't too flexible after that though). I was told by my fellow runners that my stride had lengthened when I first used it. The past two years I have used it in a more limited way, not because I don't like it but because I worked more on the running. Because you have an exagerrated stride while kicking (lifting knee and later pushing back) I think it opens up your hips and joints more. It is more gentle than running but you can push yourself just as hard if you really want a workout. Here is a good page to view:
It is a lot of fun! I rarely go back to my road bikes since I got the kickbike!

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