Posted by: thehungryrunner | July 25, 2011

On hot days, consider this “back-up plan” run/stretch workout

As much as I tend to become a one-woman complaining machine in those final winter/quasi-spring months, when all I can think of is how “nice” it will be to battle heat in lieu of windchill for my runs, I inevitably change my “bring it on!” tune when reality hits and the temperature soars into the 80’s and 90’s.  Throw in that unrelenting (if still very welcomed) summer sun and some skin-sticking humidity, and you have a trifecta of barriers to getting in a decent run without risking catastrophic organ shutdown.

So what to do?  Well, sure, you COULD set that alarm for those cool, tranquil pre-dawn hours, but the word “tranquil” is one of the synonyms for “sleepy” in my world, and try as I may to make this seemingly simple fix happen on a regular basis, 9 times out of 10, I’m loathe to get up any earlier than my body is accustomed, which is usually only after sunlight is streaming into the room.  So Plan B is usually a no-go.  Anyone up for a Plan C?

It turns out, Plan C is the charm for me.  Plan C is what I call my “50/50 Run/Stretch Workout.”  Not the most glamorous of names; I realize I should probably choose something far sexier, like “Lean R-S Extreme” or “HotRun Five-O.”  But luckily, the results are the same regardless of what you call it:  A nice dose of cardio, awakened muscles, and a delicious boost in flexibility, paving the way for strong, injury-free runs in the future.

The idea is, you shorten your run and increase the duration of your stretches, so that the time spent with each is the same.  So, a ten-minute run and a 10-minute stretch workout.  Or 15 and 15.  20 and 20.  You get the idea.  Or do you?  Because an idea such as this runs totally contrary to runners’ inclinations.  Who wants to take that much time out to stretch?  But here’s the benefit:  Number one, by shortening your run outing, you can ensure good quality to your run, sometimes better quality than when you’re pushing much longer durations or distances.  (By the way, as an important aside, please make sure you stay hydrated even with these short-duration jaunts.)  And by keeping your run brief, you leave enough juice in your muscles so that you can put more honest EFFORT and FOCUS into your stretches.

Yes, I capitalize those two words for a reason.  One of the biggest mistakes I see as a flexibility coach is that people don’t stretch with nearly the honest effort and serious focus they give to the rest of their workout.  If anything, they plod through their stretches with about as much enthusiasm as they give to filling their car at the gas pump:  looking around, sneaking glances at the clock (or the pump register), counting down the moments until they can move on from this boring task.  Mistake!  Part of the very reason stretching is so challenging and, let’s face it, at times not the most comfortable, is because your muscles need it, and they especially need that stretch to be performed to its fullest in order to reap the intended result!  Only when that initial, “Yikes, that’s tight!” reaction is followed by the “Mmmm, that feels better” (or, as I often see in my classes, that transition from a cringe to a relaxed face) is your muscle truly done with a stretch.  Think of that the next time you find yourself cutting corners or skipping your stretches altogether….AND especially think of that the next time you feel any muscle aches or tightness, because I promise you, 99% of those can be reduced or eliminated with consistent stretching or yoga.  I know, I continue to see it happen with my clients and long-distance students, not to mention myself personally!

With that in mind, why not take advantage of these hot, run-unfriendly days, and give yourself a “Plan C”?  If you’ve never experienced the relief that comes from a truly thorough stretch or yoga session, you’re in for a real treat.  In fact, you may find yourself upgrading “Plan C” to “Plan A.”  Who needs to wait for woeful weather to give the body the kind of workout that makes it go “Ahhhhhh”?

Evamarie Pilipuf is a yoga instructor and stretching consultant based in southern California, and the owner/operator of, a membership site where athletes stretch and do yoga online via Evamarie’s audio and video guidance.



  1. I thought there was actually going to be a plan, not just a suggestion…dissapointing

    • Hi Holly, sorry about that, I didn’t mean to be misleading with my title. For what it’s worth, I do have many such stretch plans — both audio and video — on the members’ side of my website. If you do join and you’d like input on which ones to try, please let me know, I’d be happy to make some suggestions!

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