Then and now

Back in my stretching, stability shoe wearing, ice bathing days

I was reading this article the other day from the Sock Doc on stretching (an article with which I concur) when I realized how much some of my beliefs about running have changed over the years. It’s bound to happen in a 15-yr. period–new research emerges to change viewpoints and you are exposed to new and different ways of training. The important thing is not to get stuck or too hung up on one way of thinking.

The interesting thing I find is not just that I’ve changed my viewpoints on certain aspects of running, but how radically I’ve changed that viewpoint in some areas. Here’s where I’ve been and where I am now:

* Stretching–I used to spend lots of time after every single run stretching, thinking that was what you needed to do to prevent injury. Then the Sock Doc opened my eyes on it and I gave it up. My body has never felt better. I truly believe now that I was only hurting my muscles with stretching, not helping at all.

* Shoes–If there’s anyone out there who has done a 180 on this, it is me. I used to wear stability shoes and orthotics. In fact, I never spent a minute out of my orthotics. And you know what? I kept getting injured. Now I live in my bare feet, only wear minimalist shoes for running and casual wear, and again, have never had fewer aches and pains.

* Ice baths–I used to be a big advocate of the ice bath post long run. After learning that there’s really no research to support this idea, I decided there was no reason to torture myself. I haven’t missed the cold and I haven’t missed any “relief” I thought I was getting.

* Ibuprofen use–When I first got started in endurance sports, people used to pop these pills left and right. I’m talking before, during and after events. I was never a huge user because it has always upset my GI tract, but now, I just don’t use it. I am a believer in the concept that our bodies use the inflammatory process to heal and that we are slowing down that process when we fight it. Not only that, but I just think ibuprofen is a harsh drug that can have plenty of bad consequences on our bodies.

* Taking the day off after a race or long run–This is one that is very individual, but I have changed greatly here, also. I used to always take the day off after my long runs and races. Now I find that a shorter shake-out run the day after helps clear my legs of the junk and speed along the recovery process.

There are other areas where I’ve changed my ways/beliefs as well, but those are the biggies. The inevitable question is–if I can change my views that much in my first 15 years of running, what will I believe in come another 15? 

How about you? How have you changed your thinking since getting started as a runner? 

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  1. says

    I am actually really grateful to you for introducing me to the Sock Doc site because he completely changed my views on lots of things! I haven’t been running very long but I’ve managed to change my habits, in many of the same ways you have, based on Dr. G’s advice and recommendations. I don’t static stretch anymore (that was a tough one to get my head around after 12 years of ballet training!) but foam roll instead, no nsaids (though I never really took them anyway), changed to minimalist shoes and a midfoot strike, I rarely use ice and instead I get A.R.T. at the first sign of injury, and I’ve moved toward a more Paleo way of eating. I’m so happy I found your blog and Sock Doc’s when I did! Thank you :)
    GreenGirlRunning recently posted..Track & The Foot FlickMy Profile

  2. says

    Personally I haven’t changed much. I’ve always been a mid-foot striker, I still do an ice bath, have never taken NSAIDs and my stretching is the dynamic Chi Running kind. Am I the only one who kind of digs an ice bath??
    Teamarcia recently posted..A Sock’s LifeMy Profile

  3. says

    I have embraced the minimalist shoe too…when I first started running it was all about not changing my shoe…ever! I also have changed in that my speed and how I look at it is different especially with long runs. I used to force my body to go slower during long runs almost to a point where I was hurting. Now I allow my body to go at the pace it is comfortable with…I just start the run slower.
    Fancy Nancy recently posted..WIAW….What’s in My LunchboxMy Profile

  4. says

    Pretty much the same, except for the ice baths, never felt the need to abuse myself that way ;-). One thing that I am doing a lot differently is doing an actual long run (double-digit). I used to avoid runs over 8 miles like the plague, now I pretty much do one weekly, sometimes twice :-).

    The other biggie is watching what I eat more than I used, the metabolism just isn’t what it used to be.

    After RW, plan to move down a little further on the more minimalist shoe spectrum, then just have fun with my running – instead of thinking of it as something I have to do, like i used to, I now have the attitude it is something I want to do.
    Harold recently posted..A Challenge For Other RunnersMy Profile

    • says

      On the contrary, it’s worse prior to running. Try stretching a cold rubber band. If you feel the unnecessary need to stretch, do it after the workout. Flexibility has less to do with actually stretching a muscle and much more to do with the opposing muscle groups being able to relax. Dynamic stretching helps increase this reciprocal inhibition.
      Kyle Kranz recently posted..Week 3 – Down and Up AgainMy Profile

  5. says

    I must say that i have only been an intense runner for the past few years but I definitely have changed my views in those years. I often run the day after long runs and races, while I didn’t do that when I started. Just makes me feel better. I hardly stretch and only go to yoga/Pilates. I have found for me doing the XT/strength classes really seem to help me with my running better than anything else I have done before.
    J recently posted..Taper Week HungerMy Profile

  6. says

    Well, you know I’ve done a complete overhaul. When I started running I knew nothing about running whatsoever. Then the injuries started. Since then I’ve changed quite a few things:

    -Running form: I switched to a natural running form style with a midfoot strike
    -Heart rate training: this has helped me so much b/c I have a tendency to over train
    -Recovery weeks: my fourth week of trianing is always recovery
    -Minimal stretching: I found out the same thing you did
    -Different shoes: I’ve moved to a lighter, lower drop shoe (Brooks Cadence)

    There is more I’ve done, but these are the main ones. I am not saying I’ll never be injured again, but it’s a start!!
    Shut Up and Run recently posted..Whine WednesdayMy Profile

  7. says

    Very interesting post! I’ve changed a few things myself but still figuring out if they are the right things to change! I stopped the ibuprofen but only because my blood pressure was too high, changed to a more minimal shoe (from stablility), but still have the orthotic (baby steps). Never took ice baths, and only stretching now because I have a tight calf I’m trying to fix up.
    Robin recently posted..Fall’s ComingMy Profile

  8. says

    Loved this post. You already know about my shoe situation, but I was wondering what is the the Sock Doc? I have been running about 15 years too, but only recently started to change. I am sure that this next year and the years to come will be full of lots of changes for more.
    Tasha @ Healthy Diva recently posted..Palm Springs in PicturesMy Profile

  9. says

    What a transformation!

    I’m with you on the stretching. I used to stretch til the cows came home and I still cringe when I hear people encouraging new runners to STRETCH STRETCH STRETCH.

    I still appreciate a good cold soak, even if the benefits are all in my head. :)

    Hmm, I wonder where you’ll be with your running another 15 years from now!
    Marlene recently posted..ChaosMy Profile

  10. Holly says

    I’ve only been running for 4 years but I have changed a lot of things since then – my form w/ midfoot strike (helped tremendously!) with lower drop shoes (out of stability), adding 1 day of yoga instead of the post run stretching, the fact that I don’t love rest days anymore, and that I look forward to getting up before the crack of dawn to get my runs in. Weird, I wouldn’t have guessed these things when I started running.

  11. says

    You post mirrors one that’s been in my head as I have published some “Lost Files” from 6 years ago when I blogged on myspace (there are more to come!). The lessons we learn and the shifting of thinking (maybe evolvement is a better word) are the great things about running.

    I avoid the best I can with having a “belief” system with running – we’re all so different and different things work for different people. And, I think, different things work for different distances that we train for. Being open minded to change, though, is key to keeping running fun.
    David H. recently posted..3 things Thursday: Cookies, marathon, cookiesMy Profile

  12. says

    Very neat post. I have never been a stretcher either, hated it, and always found articles citing how it wasn’t always the thing to do. Since this time, I’ve discovered foam rolling, which I’m really enjoying, and I”m learning some great cirque du soleil moves on the foam roller.

    One thing I would never do is take walk breaks, but since this time, if I’m on a recovery run just to shake the legs out, I allow myself to do so.

    I’m in the middle of a minimalist transition, and have been doing many runs in my Kirvana 3’s which feel like heaven.

  13. says

    Sat. I completed my 24th marathon and Sunday I went for a 2 mile run (+some walking). This is the 1st time I tried running the day after the marathon (decided to try it after reading Ryan Hall’s book). I hurt every step, for the first mile, but I did feel better afterwards.

    Mostly, I guess, I’m a creature of habit with the things I feel work for me. (ice baths, stretching- post run, cushioned shoes, etc.) I may do a little experimenting with gel-less running later this winter…..we shall see.
    ginny recently posted..Top of Utah and On Top of the WorldMy Profile

  14. says

    Ive only been running for 8 years, 3 of them “seriously”. Rarely do I take ibuprofen, occasionally stretch. I just have a hard time getting on board with the minimalist shoe, especially for long distances but I do appreciate the reasoning behind it. One thing I’m learning is important that I think is over looked to often is strength training. Who knew running could be so complicated. No idea what 15 yrs will bring. Hopefully AG wins 😉
    Fueled by Spite recently posted..It’s in!My Profile

  15. says

    It’s so interesting to see how views and viewpoints have changed over the year. I’m with you on the stretching. I used to give my husband such a hard time because he didn’t (still doesn’t) stretch. While I might not stretch as much now, I do foam roll but I feel like that’s different. But who knows. Maybe in 15 years I’ll be singing a different tune about that one too!
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..Upper Body WorkoutMy Profile

  16. says

    Well this makes me feel better about not stretching that much! I guess the biggest change for me is listening to my body. I was never really injured when I first started running but then I never really ran more than 10 miles. After my stress fracture 1 1/2 years ago I have learned to listen to my body which sometimes means taking a rest day or going easy when I had not planned to for another day or two.
    Tia @ Arkansas Runner Mom recently posted..An Unoffical Track Half Marathon- aka A LOT OF LAPS!!My Profile

  17. says

    Hmm interesting especially about the ice bath. I have only done one so far and did NOT enjoy. I THOUGHT it helped but it could have been in my mind. Also, surprised to hear about the stretching…I seriously don’t do enough of it and after my 10 miler this morning, I didn’t do one darn stretch, which I was feeling guilty about. Woops!
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  18. Susan says

    i have been running 13 years in which time i have also gotten out of custom orthotics, heel lifts and stability shoes. the transition took nearly 2 years but i feel much better, all over. no more heel striking has meant less overall pain.

    i do not stretch at all now, probably only did sporatic stretching after running before i stopped completely. i believe muscles rebel under the stretch…thanks, in most part, to the sock doc site

    i have also stopped ibrupofen completely after an orthopedic advised against it during a stress fracture healing (it delays bone healing) I will take larger doses of bromelain if i feel overly achy…it recently helped with a bout of bursitis. i have to confess, there was more advil than clif bars in transition at iron girl! i was surprised to see how many athletes will routinely take this before they begin an event.

  19. says

    I’m really torn on the minimalist running shoes vs stability shoes argument. I’ve heard good and bad things about both. I’m super new to running and haven’t had any issues yet with my support shoes but I am curious about getting a pair with less of a heel toe drop to see what the difference is like. Reading this post made me realize 90% of my day to day shoes are as minimalist as possible, so minimalist running sneakers might not be a bad idea.
    Erin @ Girl Gone Veggie recently posted..Birthday CelebrationsMy Profile

  20. says

    I still have to stretch after nearly every run. I tried the no-stretch thing and my back started playing up again (I had a lot of issues with it in my early 40s) . I think stuff like that is individual and you have to find what works for you.
    Char recently posted..One Day At A TImeMy Profile

  21. says

    I’ve changed, too, and I’ve been running far less time than you (only two years). I have gone from motion control shoes and orthotics to minimalist shoes almost 24/7, and I’ve reduced how much I stretch after runs, too–just a couple of minutes is enough most of the time. Never have been able to face an ice bath and probably never will. I do avoid ibuprofen most of the time (never before/during a run, only occasionally after a run). I’m sure I’ll continue to change!
    Denise S. recently posted..Say what?!My Profile

  22. says

    I feel as if I’ve only changed a little bit. While I’m still in the semi-beginning years of my running, there’s more time later to perhaps change these ideas. I have always maintained the idea that you just need to get out and run. Forget everything else. Stretching, ice baths, minimalist shoes, etc. Just put on whatever you have and go. It’s really mind over matter. I’ve been wearing the same pair of running shoes for YEARS. Never ONCE got an injury. But those who keep saying you need a new pair of shoes every so many miles…blah blah blah. Shoe companies made that up to get people to buy more. I can definitely see the idea behind minimalist shoes, but until I have the money to buy a pair…it really doesn’t matter.

  23. says

    Oh, this post is so timely! My heel is acting up, and I just heard about the Sock Doc today. I have changed my thinking about stretching, now I do jumping jacks and hip circles before running to warm up. btw, I started standing today instead of sitting to do my sales calls, and I totally thought of you and your standing desk!
    Molly recently posted..Thursday Three: The Boot EditionMy Profile

  24. says

    I totally agree on your list! In the beginning I didn’t stretch and ended up with an injury. I started to stretch for 2-3 minutes after each run and most importantly I use the foam roller and massages. I feel really good now and haven’t been injured since.
    Christine recently posted..Three Things ThursdayMy Profile

  25. says

    Interesting stuff for sure. I think an easy spin on the bike might be better the day after a race or long run to flush the kegs out with no pounding, but I’m a noob at this endurance sport stuff.

  26. says

    Generally I’m with you. However I have found there are a couple of stretches that if I don’t keep up with them ..eventually I’m screwed…but they are active stretches where I’m really loading the muscle and then stretching it.

    Sock Doc is a little too sure of himself for my taste.
    Paul recently posted..My connection to Berlin.My Profile

  27. says

    SO INTERESTING! I love that I can learn some things from others like you who have been there before. It all comes down to what works for each individual, I know, but I still love hearing things from the more seasoned runners.

    Like I’ve learned that more stabilization in a shoe SUCKS. It’s what started my injury train I truly believe. So now I’m working on getting to more neutral/minimal shoes and it’s been doing great. I also stretch a lot less, but do foam roll a lot. I liked to see that the article you linked still recommended that. I’ve noticed I feel better with less stretching and more of a cool-down/foam roll session too.

    I’m most intrigued by the ice bath. I always feel like they help me. But again that goes back to do what works for you. And I’m with whoever said they kind of enjoy them in a weird way. haha!

  28. says

    It’s kind of funny how the research changes through the years. The main point is to do what’s right for your body. What may work for one might not be better for someone else. It’s a constant learning process. Sounds like you found your answer!
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted..We Are All RunnersMy Profile

  29. says

    I’m amazed at how alike our views on so many things are. I am in line with you on ever single one – except the shoes (but I plan to start to transition to more minimalist shoes now that I’m no longer pregnant). It’s definitely interesting to look back on things we used to do …I think the big thing is that trial and error teaches us what works for US – and that’s the smartest and best thing we can do for ourselves!!
    Michele @ Nycrunningmama recently posted..Guilt With a Second ChildMy Profile

  30. says

    I no longer ice bath – I’m with ya, torture! And I didn’t. Optics a difference when I stopped. However, I *have* stood, waist high, in a very cold Pacific Ocean post race and that felt fantastic!

    I’m not a bog stretcher, but my hips do get tights. A nice pigeon pose after mynlong run is a great way for me to relax those muscles. Yoga in general feels so good – so stretching, but pared with strength training I guess.
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  31. says

    Thanks for that article. I never had any proof, but my Dad is always trying to get me to stretch and I knew I just wasn’t into it! I sent him that link. I have not changed too much, I don’t think. I have dabbled in a few things (ice baths – yuck, fruit flavored Gu – no thanks, bad underwear, music vs podcasts) but usually have just stuck to what works for me, rather than reading too many articles about this or that. It’s always fun to see what works for others though!
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