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Complete these 4 Stretches Before You Run

Help prevent injury and add these 4 stretches before you run

Aside from losing weight and lowering your blood pressure, running is an activity that comes with numerous benefits. It can help improve both your mental and physical health. Just like other exercises, you need to warm up your body before you begin. A great way to do that before running is to stretch. We breakdown why injuries happen and advise that you complete these 4 stretches before you run.

Regardless of how beneficial running can be, more than 65% of runners get injured every year. This stat might seem discouraging, but the good news is that you can avoid these running injuries. One of the primary reasons why people get injured after running is because their muscles were overworked or overstretched. When the muscles in the legs are stiff and tight, running might be a bad idea as it can lead to injuries. In order to avoid getting injured, the muscles should be first stretched properly. The best way to avoid this is by completing these 4 stretches before you run. If you do become injured, see Dr. Allen and the experts at Ascension Seton Sports Performance.

Pro tip: don’t begin marathon training without these 7 essential items!

  • Single-Leg Deadlift 

This exercise is an effective means of stretching every muscle within the hips and hamstrings. To do this, get into a standing position with your feet hip-width apart. Place your weight on your right leg and gradually raise your left leg out behind you and make sure it’s straight. As you raise your left leg, simultaneously hinge at your waist. Doing this correctly gets you into a T shape.

  • Hip Flexor Stretch 

A tight hip flexor can cause injuries while running. This exercise can help avoid that injury. Get into a lunge position with your front knee at 90 degrees. Then gradually straighten your back leg and then raise your arms. Hold in this position for 10 seconds and change legs.

  • Walking Lunge 

This exercise helps avoid injuries in the knee and thigh region. Get into a standing position, then move your right leg forward. Bend the right leg until the knee is at 90 degrees and the back knee is almost touching the ground. Stay in this position for 5 seconds and then move forward with the left leg. While doing this, place your hands on your waist.

  • Calf Raise 

This is another helpful stretching exercise that can help avoid injuries while running. This exercise targets muscles in the calf region. To do this, stand straight and gently push through the balls of your feet till your heels are high, and you are standing fully on your toes. After standing on your toes for 5 seconds, slowly return to your initial standing position.

Avoiding injuries that are caused by running is possible, but only with the right stretching. Completing these 4 stretches before you run is very important. Especially for people that haven’t engaged in running for a long time or engage in activities that require less movement. If you have an injury or what to become a better runner, email Ascension Seton Sports Performance today – sportssci@ascension.org.

Understand How Temperature Affects Running Performance

Dr. Allen breaks down how and why temperature affects running performance

Central Texas is known for its dramatic changes in weather. Runners should always check the weather before taking off for a run. You should always have a plan and dress accordingly. Properly hydrating also goes a long way. In order to optimize running, you should know how temperature affects running performance. That’s why we checked in with Dr. Allen and the experts at Ascension Seton Sports Performance. Dr. Allen explains how temperature affects running performance and what it means for you. Remember to always listen to your body!

How the body reacts to hot and cold

Temperatures in the Central Texas summer months can exceed 100°F. Winter months can experience temperatures that can range from the 20s to 50s. The body performs best if core temperature is maintained below 104°F with fatigue setting in above this temperature. Humans are unfortunately relatively inefficient when it comes to this. As much as 70% of the chemical energy can dissipate as heat instead of being turned into mechanical energy for movement. This is why it’s important to know your pace and have a plan for race day. Pro tip: use this helpful pace chart as your guide!

As the runner increases their pace the body slowly heats up. It sends more blood to the muscles involved in movement and proportionally less blood to the skin to get rid of heat. Cooler temperatures, wind, cloud cover, and appropriately ventilated clothing all help runners maintain a faster race pace. This is helpful to know if you’re increasing your mileage while training for a marathon.

Research shows that runners self-select a pace that will allow them to perform at their physiological limit given the conditions of the day. During a marathon, competitive runners usually maintain a pace that corresponds to 70-90% of their VO2 max. Contact the experts at Ascension Seton Sports Performance to find out your VO2 max and marathon race pace – sportssci@ascension.org

Running in the heat

Additionally, it has been demonstrated that 50°F is the optimal temperature for peak marathon performance. As the temperature heats up from 41°F, runners get slower for every 9°F increase in wet bulb globe temperature (WBGT). WBGT is an index of heat that is thought to best represent heat stress. Elite runners tend to slow their self-selected race pace by 1.7, 2.5, 3.3, and 4.5% respectively. That means at a WBGT of 77°F elite runners are running 4.5% slower than at a WBGT of 41°F. Slower runners seem to slow down even more, decreasing speed by 3.2, 6.4, 9.6, and 12.8% respectively. At a WBGT of 77°F a slower runner is running over 12% slower than at WBGT of 41°F. This can explain why your runs take more effort as you run in the heat of summer.

The research indicates this may be because slower runners spend more time exposed to hotter conditions. They also tend to spend more time running in packs of other runners. This has been shown to decrease airflow related heat loss by 50%!

Regardless of your ability level, the key takeaways are that runners tend to settle on a pace that corresponds to what their body can do given the temperature of the day. Hotter temperatures present a greater challenge for runners than colder temperatures. It’s important to allow your body to naturally cool down by allowing for airflow when racing on a hot day. For more content related to all things sports performance, fun virtual challenges, and information regarding our Sports Performance offerings, join our free Strava Club “Ascension Texas Sports Performance.”

About Dr. Jakob Allen

Dr. Allen received his Doctoral training from the nationally ranked University of Texas at Austin. He was an 8x All-American collegiate swimmer at Stanford, American Record holder, NCAA and Pac-10 Champion, and 2x Olympic Trials qualifier. Dr. Allen is now an avid cyclist and triathlete, frequently placing in the top-5 overall amateurs in Central Texas triathlons. He is driven to bring about the greatest potential of all athletes whether you are a weekend warrior or an Olympian.

Dr. Allen currently serves as the Sports Scientist for the Austin Bold FC team in addition to his work in the clinic. He believes that exercise remains one of the best ways to improve every physiological system in the body throughout the lifespan. Whether it’s helping prevent changes in mental acuity or improving muscle function, the benefits of exercise continue to be supported by scientific studies. Dr. Allen specializes in designing exercise training programs for improving muscle and cardiovascular health for aging wellness and masters athlete performance.

How Long Will it Take You to Finish a Marathon?

Know the 6 factors that may impact your marathon finish time

A marathon is 26.2 miles (42.2K) long. While most elite runners can finish a marathon in the 2-hour range, age group runner’s finish times vary greatly. We review the average finish times for different ages below. Runners usually have 8 hours to complete the designated 26.2-mile distance.  There are several factors that can influence how long it can take you to finish a marathon. If you already know your running pace, use this helpful pace chart to help predict your finish time or set a new goal!

Training and pace

Runner Pace Chart for 5K Half Marathon and marathon finish time predictionLike every competition, preparation is critical for a marathon. The amount of training you put in every day before the race is crucial to how your body acclimatizes itself to running long distances. You can roughly calculate how long it could take you to finish a marathon by taking your mile time and comparing it with a marathon pace chart. For example, if you’re completing a mile in 15 minutes then you would likely reach the finish line in about 6.5 hours.

If you don’t know your base pace, you can calculate it. There are tons of different pace calculators available on the internet. Another good way to figure out your base pace is to run a 5K. Your pace in the final mile is a good place to start for predicting your pace. Since you are planning a longer distance you will want to add anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute to calculate your full marathon pace.

Many marathons will have pace groups for certain times to help guide finishers. These pace times can differ from race to race but many times include the required qualifying times for the Boston Marathon. The Austin Marathon is a Boston Marathon Qualifier with hundreds of people getting their BQ each year. 

  • Pace groups available: 2:59, 3:05, 3:10, 3:15, 3:20, 3:25, 3:30, 3:35, 3:40, 3:45, 3:50, 3:55, 4:00, 4:05, 4:20, 4:35, and 4:50
  • The pace group leaders will run “even splits.” This means that every mile will be run at approximately the same pace
  • Think of them as a moving finish line with your goal time pinned to the back of their shirts

Age and gender

Although age and gender do not restrict your ability as a runner, there are considerable differences in the stats in these categories. On average, men complete a marathon in a little more than 4 hours, while women take roughly 4.5 hours. The marathon running population is typically 30-40 percent female and 60-70 percent male. People of all ages complete a marathon, though the bulk are between 30 and 50 years of age. 

Average finish time by gender and age group from the 2020 Austin Marathon

Average Finisher Times based on age group for the austin marathon

These stats are important to know so that you can plan accordingly and maybe even take home an age group award. Age group awards are usually presented to the top 3 male and female overall in each age group. Categories begin with 19 & under and end with 85+. Groups increase in five-year increments.

Awards for the Austin Marathon (for male and female) include:

  • Overall champion
  • 2nd place
  • 3rd place
  • Age Groups: 19 & under 20-24, 25-29, 30-34, 35-39, 40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69, 70-74, 75-79, 80-85, 85+

Terrain and weather

One part that can affect how long it takes to finish a marathon is the course’s terrain. The flatter the course, the lesser the effort required to run on it. But terrain does not necessarily dictate success or make a course hard or easy. With proper training for a course, you can set a PR (personal record) on all different styles of course. Pro tip: Try and run the course before race day. Practice some of your long runs on the course if you can!

As much as terrain decides the intensity of the challenge, weather can significantly impact how long it will take you to finish a marathon. If it is warmer than normal, your energy could drain faster. Your body consumes more energy to perform the task at hand and keep your body cool. Participants normally prefer the cooler temperatures in the winter months. But as with everything, if it gets too cold this could impact your time because it could take longer to warm up at the start.

Knowing about these factors and how they can impact how long it could take you to finish a marathon will help on race day. Keep a record of your time and work to improve it at your next marathon. With proper training and dedication, you could set a brand new marathon PR! How do you prepare for these factors during your training? Have they impacted how long it took you to finish a marathon? Let us know in the Austin Marathon Facebook Group or on Twitter.