Month: March 2015

Importance of Flexibility for Running


Flexibility is considered the range of motion within a joint or group of joints, or to take it one step further, the effectiveness of a joint to move through a particular range of motion.

It is actually considered one of the four core components of fitness:

1. Cardiovascular endurance

2. Muscular strength

3. Muscular endurance

4. Flexibility

Given that this has been recognized by many of the world leaders in fitness research, it is safe to say it is important for everyone’s general well-being. However, when it comes to sports, and especially running, it becomes even more important.  Here is how to stretch before running.

Injury Prevention and Performance

Although there is the odd contradictory study, the majority of research regarding flexibility for injury prevention shows that it does indeed decrease the rate of injuries, particularly those that result from over-use or imbalances.

The reasons for this are still being sorted out, but there are a few explanations. One is that if your muscles are capable of stretching further allowing your joint to move a little further through its range of motion, that may offer a little bit more “buffer room” when being forced to exert force near the end of your range of motion. In other words, if your muscle are being “stretched” to their limits less often, there’s a lower chance of strain injuries.

Stretching can also help alleviate muscle imbalances. For example, it is very common for hockey players and speed skaters to have extremely tight hip flexors. This can eventually result in annoying back problems, which is one of the last things you want to deal with when preparing for competition.

In terms of running, especially for long distances such as marathons or ultra-marathons, there is a dual benefit to stretching:

First, by increasing your hamstring flexibility by, let’s say 1cm, that will make a huge difference in number of steps required to complete the race. This may result in less required effort, ultimately allowing you to push harder sooner, maybe even resulting in a new PB.

Secondly, by taking a lower amount of steps over a given distance, there is statistically less opportunities for you to injure yourself with a rolled ankle or something silly like that. Additionally, less step may mean less use, and therefore a reduced risk of overuse injury.

The main disadvantage of stretching, at least in the static sense (e.g. sit-and-reach) is that it has been shown to decrease muscular power output. For endurance events, this isn’t really a problem, but for those also participating in a sport that requires a little more explosiveness, this can be a problem especially if you’re looking to reduce risk of injury.

Therefore, it is often recommended that dynamic stretching be performed prior to the event (e.g. leg swings), which has been shown to prevent this loss in muscular power output. Then, during cool-down, it is recommended to perform the standard static stretching that most of us are used to.


Stretching is extremely important for health and fitness and elite competition alike. The type of stretching you perform is up to you and depends on what sort of training you are doing. Lots of runners perform static stretching before AND after a run, and they find it really helps, so don’t feel limited to only what you read in this article. We simply want to get the wheels turning for you and help you reach your own personal running goals. If you find it boring, we don’t blame you, but finding some peers to stretch with or having some music handy can really help solve that problem!

Sprint Training for Endurance Athletes

When you want a little extra

Running at a recreational level, and especially a competitive level, is definitely a commitment. Not only is it a challenge to achieve your fitness goals, but it can be even more difficult to maintain those achievements for the long term.

Many runners who have participated in our group runs have asked what we do for cross-training. At first, we would simply respond by saying that running is enough training along. We still stand by this comment, but it has become clear to us that ONLY running isn’t necessarily suitable for all individuals, particularly those who run purely for recreation.

Therefore, in this article, we discuss some ways that you may be able to supplement your running workout with a completely different type of activity, allowing you to further personalize your training regime to something potentially more enjoyable for you.

What should you keep in mind?

First of all, given we are a running group, we do not want to discuss forms of training that will hurt any fitness benefits you have seen from running, or anything else that will be bad for your running workouts.

In order to address this, we feel that a focus should be placed on activities that do not cause an undue amount of physical stress to the lower body, those that have a high-risk of acute or chronic injuries, but still provide a different-enough workout that you will find it both enjoyable and beneficial.


Are we serious? Yes. Really? Yes.

Although we acknowledge boxing isn’t for everyone, take away any preconceived notions you have and you will see just how awesome it can be. Boxing really incorporates all types of workouts, but these guys and girls can definitely be considered endurance athletes. In fact, we actually started thinking about boxing after a couple boxers joined our running group as a supplement to THEIR workouts!

Many people think boxing is synonymous with fighting, but that is not the case. Most boxing gyms are more than happy to welcome recreational boxers who are simply looking to get or stay in shape, and you can even perform your own workouts at home.

Boxing is similar to circuit training at a fitness gym, where all parts of the body are worked in a highly intense manner, but definitely focusing on endurance and cardiovascular fitness. You will rarely touch a weight, as most exercises are performed under your own body weight. Furthermore, boxing-specific exercises add an extra level of fun, and can also serve as self-defense training.

Boxing is also pretty cheap. All you need is a pair of boxing gloves, hand wraps, a mouth guard (depending on how far your training goes), and your normal gym clothes. Eventually if you want to progress to your own home workouts, you can set up your own punching bag at home with relative ease and have other little things around like jump ropes.

Last note about boxing, you don’t have to spar if you don’t want. A lot of people think if they join a boxing gym that they are automatically volunteering to put themselves in the ring with an opponent. This is not the case, and most gyms are aware that this can even be a liability issue for them, so they shouldn’t ever be putting you in the ring without you coming forward and volunteering on your own. Even then, they will want to make sure that you are ready and comfortable with making that step.

Football and floor hockey

Football is a pretty obvious sport that could cross over to running, and all you need is a pitch and some mates to play around with. However, perhaps a more interesting, or at least unfamiliar, sport is floor hockey. Many community centres are stocked with floor hockey sticks. If you can find or create a couple goals/nets, a ball, and get some mates together, you can have some unconventional fun that likely puts everyone on the same level. It’s also a crazy workout!

Circuit Training

In general we do not want to promote weight lifting if you are serious about endurance running. However, resistance training does not need to be geared towards sprint-type athletes that are looking to bulk up.

If you have a membership at a local fitness centre, consider circuit training. This usually has its own area in the fitness centre and is composed of various exercise machines. If they aren’t grouped together in their own area, you will simply just have to move around the gym a bit more.

In circuit training, you usually perform an exercise on one machine that targets a particular muscle group, then immediately move on to the next machine that targets a different muscle group, and continues, eventually working all muscle groups. People tend to perform the exercises with low weight and high reps, which facilitates enhancements to muscular endurance.


In general, what sort of training regime you develop is up to you. This will depend on what types of goals you want to achieve and how committed you are to running. Although we suggest the above activities, that does not mean there aren’t any more of similar or better benefit. As long as you aren’t feeling over-worked, are using low weights and high reps, and it is enjoyable, then you should be well on your way to great training regime, and an even better lifestyle!