4 Secrets to Successful Stretching

Jon L. is the Crew/Volunteer Coordinator for the Seattle 3-Day, but when he’s not working to support Seattle crew members, he’s also a long-distance runner with years of experience hitting the pavement. Jon agreed to be our guest blogger this week, to talk about the importance of stretching.

susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer 60 mile walk blog training stretching

Coach Jon

You can safely assume that walking for three days, let alone three days that carry you 60 miles, will take a toll on one’s body. While it may seem like “just walking” to some, those who have done the 3-Day can certainly tell you it’s much more. There is a lot of time spent on your feet, which the majority of the general population is not used to. The pounding you get from walking on mostly hard surfaces, like sidewalks, can be tough on your muscles and joints. Throw in a couple of hills, and it could be a recipe for leg soreness. One of the most elegant and efficient ways to combat this stress on your body is by stretching.susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer 60 mile walk blog training stretching

Here are some basic tips to help you get the most out of your next batch of stretching:

  • Ease into your stretching routine – One of the biggest mistakes in developing a stretching routine for yourself, especially early on, is stretching too much, too soon. Your muscles have a baseline level of flexibility, which is determined based on how much the muscles are used and how much they have been cared for. If you overstretch—by stretching for too long or by pulling your muscles beyond their capacity—you can end up doing more harm than good.
  • No BOUNCING! – When stretching any muscle, you want to make sure you make unrushed, smooth and deliberate transitions. This allows your muscles to adapt slowly to the new sensation of being stretched. If you bounce, it adds quick and intense stress to your muscles, which could lead to pulls and strains. Remember, we’re trying to help your muscles, not add to their misery.
  • Find your breath – An important but often overlooked aspect of stretching is breathing. One of the best ways to help your muscles recover is by getting them nice clean oxygen. So make sure you remember to breathe, slowly and deeply, while you stretch to keep the fresh oxygen flowing.
  • Focus – Pay attention to the muscle that you are trying to stretch. This will help prevent overstretching, while allowing you to focus on helping that specific muscle to feel a little less sore. It also gives you time to remember that all-important breathing.susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer 60 mile walk blog training stretching

Remember, stretching is not a cure-all for muscle soreness. It is just one stepping stone in injury prevention. It does not replace consistent training and recovery, it simply allows you to get back to training with muscles that are looser and more responsive. If you feel like you are injured, or that you are developing an injury, please see you doctor right away.




3-Day Training Throwback: Cold Weather Walking Tips

January may still be a little bit early in the year to start your official 3-Day training, but if you’re eager to get started training your body to be able to walk 60 miles this summer, let’s chat about walking when the weather is not so pleasant. You may be wondering, “How can I get my 3-Day training walks in when it’s minus freezing degrees outside?”

Here are some tips for walking in a winter wonderland:

Dress for the occasion – Before stepping outside, you’ll probably be inclined to bundle up in your down parka, but if you’re taking a walk, it may be better to dress in lighter, thinner layers, and shed as you go if you need to. Moisture-wicking fabric is best for the layer closest to your skin. You may be cold, but if you’re moving, you’re sweating, and the only thing worse than being really cold is being really cold and wet. Also, don’t forget hats and gloves, and whenever possible, wear bright colors and/or reflective materials so you stand out against your white-grey environment.susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk blog 60 mile training cold weather

Warm your digits – One 3-Day coach loves those chemical-activated hand and foot warmers (available in the camping section of any sporting goods store). They are a quick, inexpensive way to keep your fingers and toes toasty. They fit snugly inside your gloves and your shoes and will ease the shock of the freezing temps on your extremities.

Take care of your skin – Cold air and wind can really do a number on exposed skin, so don’t forget to put on moisturizer before heading out. Sunscreen, too, is a must have for training any day of the week, any time of the year.

Hydrate – Drinking water when it’s hot out is a no brainer. You crave the cool water to quench the heat. It can be harder to remember to hydrate in the cold, but it’s no less essential when you’re exercising. If you normally carry your water in a fanny pack while you walk, think about holding it in your hand while walking in the cold, as an ever-present reminder to sip as you step.

Cool it on the mileage – There are many reasons why the 3-Day events take place in the late summer and fall, and it’s not just about walking those 60 miles in nicer weather; it’s also because we know that many of you superstar walkers can’t even really start training until the ground beneath you thaws out. But if you’re the type of go-getter who just can’t wait until the mercury rises, you can at least be comforted knowing that it’s okay to keep your walks short and sweet at this point. Once spring comes around and mother nature is a more agreeable training partner, then you can start upping the distance of your training walks.

Choose your route carefully – Be certain that you’re walking someplace familiar, and be ready to pay close attention to the terrain with every step. If the sidewalks have not been cleared of ice and snow, walk in the street. (And on that note, make sure you’re wearing good shoes that have a little bit of traction on the sole.) Always tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to be back. If you get lost in a snow drift, they’ll want to know where to start digging!

Stay indoors – Wait, you’re not off the hook for training! But if it’s just too nasty outside, find someplace indoors to get moving. While we don’t recommend that you do all of your 3-Day training on a treadmill, it’s a perfectly good alternative to outdoor walking if you need it. No treadmill? Throw on your shoes and walk on an indoor track, through a shopping mall, or up and down the stairs in your office building. One of our coaches also suggested college campuses as places that often have large and/or interconnected buildings, and lovely grounds you can walk through.

susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk blog indoor track cold weather training

Twin Cities coach Stephanie’s selfie on an indoor track in her neighborhood

Tell us your favorite cold weather walking tips!


Ways to Get Walkin’ at Work

Preparing your body to walk 60 miles in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® takes a lot of time and effort. If you have a full-time job, it may be a little more difficult to find time to devote exclusively to your Komen 3-Day training. There are certainly plenty of jobs out there that require folks to be on their feet anyway (we salute YOU, mail carriers, teachers, servers, retail salespeople, medical professionals and many more), but if your job is one that has you stationed at a desk, don’t worry: with some creative thinking, you can easily work some walking into your work day. Here are some ways to supplement your steps while putting in your 9 to 5.susan g. komen 3-Day breast cancer walk blog training

Park Productively – Sometimes getting that extra bit of walking in is as simple as parking your car a little farther from the door. Don’t drive to work? Think about getting off the train or bus one stop earlier than normal and walking the rest of the way.

Go Out of Your Way for Face Time – No, not the FaceTime app. Just the opposite, in fact. If you need to chat with a co-worker in another office or cubicle, get up and go directly to them instead of calling or emailing.

Take the Stairs – Not much more to say about that one!

Start a Workplace Walking Group – Recruit some of your co-workers to join you for walking breaks. They don’t have to be long; even just a 10-15 minute mid-morning or post-lunch stroll will help get you moving. Having other people who count on you to join them will keep you motivated to keep moving.susan g. komen 3-Day breast cancer walk blog training

Put it in the Books – Most working professionals keep a detailed calendar or datebook with all of their appointments, meetings and conference calls. Use that time-management tool to schedule some walking time too. If it’s slated on the calendar, you’ll be less likely to get caught in the “just couldn’t make time for it today” rut.

Walk and Talk – If you can make conference calls or join virtual meetings from your mobile phone, think about taking a walk while you’re on the call. This practice can have the dual benefits of getting some walking into your day, and also help you stay focused on the conversation when you’re not distracted by everything at your desk.

Work-from-home? – Good news! The options may be even more plentiful for you in the work-at-home community. In most cases, you can easily take a stroll around your neighborhood during break times (once you’ve put it in your calendar, or course). If you’re like me and want to stay in your pajamas as you work from home, think about making it a priority to get yourself dressed every morning; you’ll be more inclined to actually step out of the house if you’re wearing actual clothes.susan g. komen 3-Day breast cancer walk blog training

What other ways can you get creative about walking during the work day? Post your ideas in the comments below.