Stretch and Run With Portland Cross Country

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Rob Conner, head XC coach for the University of Portland, reveals how his Pilots earn their stripes on flexibility missions.

Purchase bananas and spinach at the supermarket. Huh? Hydration creates muscle elasticity for long jaunts in the bushes. Drink water, but if you're allergic to hydrogen, try a "green smoothie," which consists of spinach, bananas, ice cubes and water. Fruits and fibers may prompt an impromptu bathroom break along the trail, but they also absorb water and provide a delayed response to keep your body loose and hydrated for runs. Drink a 25-ounce "green smoothie"—or plain, boring water—10 to 15 minutes prior to running.

Become a muscle whisperer. "Talk" to your muscles and prepare them for upcoming activity. When the mind and body understand the large athletic task at hand, the body's natural response will take care of itself. Injuries occur when a relaxed muscle is suddenly thrust into full-blast activity. To prevent this, perform light, exaggerated high knees, strides and lunges for five minutes before hitting the trail.

It's just a foot massage. The arch of the foot is the muscle most overlooked by runners while stretching. Build strength in your trail taxis by sitting down, wrapping a towel under the foot and pulling back.

Post-run. Perform static stretches, but if you overstretch quad, hamstring and calf muscles to the point of pain, the internal flexibility services may perform an audit on your workout. Combine static stretches with a light 15- to 20-minute barefoot jog in the grass to strengthen and lengthen muscles.

Below the belt. Employment with long-distance crews does not require previous experience in Mr. Universe contests. The more muscles a runner develops, the more opportunity for pulls and tears. Stay elastic in the lower body, and don't stress out about upperbody development or flexibility.

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