Stretching and self-regulation

This article was originally posted by Ryan at the original Blogs.

What’s really going on when you’re stretching?

What does stretching really do?

Well, it apparently may not loosen your muscles and tendons. Did we ever think it did loosen tendons? Anyway, it appears according to this that it may just change the threshold at which we perceive the muscle being elongated too far.

Related to the above and going further, we have some more on stretching not doing what we may think it does. Also some good advice, though I don’t quite agree with everything. I agree that elongating our muscles in everyday life is a good idea, as are not worrying about hypermobility and not stretching to the point of pain. However, I would still argue that some stretching is beneficial. No, 10 seconds or 1 minute of stretching won’t undo 10 hours, give or take, worth of poor posture. That said, it can be part of an overall routine that can improve your posture and counter for those periods where we don’t do our best.

Self-regulation slows you down

You’re at the start line of a race and you see something that you find disturbing or you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation. What do you do? Do you let your emotions show or do you put on a good face?

What happens if you have to put on a "public face" shortly before the start of a race? Maybe you’re meeting someone new and need to impress. Maybe, if you’re at a race where you’re the star (hey, even I get that if I find small enough of a race) you have to put on a good show as people come up before the start to say hi or ask you how you’re going to do or how things are going in general.

Well, suppressing emotion right before a race makes you slower.

This likely has to do with mental fatigue and self control. The old saying that running is 90% physical and the other half is mental is more true than we think (besides the bad math that this guy with a degree in Applied Mathematics cringes at). Just as we try to conserve physical energy before a race, we should also focus on conserving mental energy before a race.

What does this mean practically? Well, you have to decide where you want to draw the line but I’ve always kind of closed myself off before a race. I’ll wish people well at the start line but, personally, that doesn’t require putting on a good face. I do try to avoid conversations, especially ones where I might have to put on a good face. I’ve always thought of it as focusing in on the task at hand but there’s surely some saving mental energy going on also. So don’t be surprised if you see me at a race and I seem a little anti-social at the start. Just catch me at the finish and I promise I’ll be more open.

So I give you permission to be a little anti-social at the start line. It will help you race better. Just try to make up for it by being more friendly at the finish line. Your faster performance should help with that. ;)

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