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Learn How to Run Stronger

Take your cardio outdoors -- running is a fun and effective workout

Improve flexibility and your performance

Quads, hamstrings, calves, hip . exors, and pecs. Those are guys' trouble spots, says Andrew Kastor, a marathon coach in Mammoth Lakes, CA. Stretching these key areas will improve your posture, not just for running but for any activity.

Stretching before a workout will help increase the range of motion in joints (ankles, knees, hips). Doing it a. er your run will give your body a head start in the recovery process, resetting your muscle tissue to its resting length. This allows the blood to . ow back into the muscles to nourish damaged tissue and carry away metabolic waste.

Do a few stretches five to eight minutes before a hard workout. Stretch again five to eight minutes after the workout.

Most experts consider Active Isolated Stretching, or AIS, the best stretching strategy. It takes more practice than traditional stretching, but you'll stretch your muscles farther and more safely. AIS is a great warm-up for running because it stretches and contracts muscles, so you get loose and warm. And it's safe to do when your muscles are still "cold."

Do It:
In these AIS moves, you'll stretch target muscles while contracting the opposing muscles—the trick for a deeper stretch. Do eight to 10 reps on each side, holding each for two to three seconds.

1) Hamstring
Stand on one foot and raise your opposite leg with your knee bent so that your upper thigh is parallel to the ground. Hold your leg by grabbing it below the knee with both hands, brace your abs, and extend your lower leg as far as you can, then bend it.

2) Quadriceps
Lie on your right side with hips and knees bent 90 degrees. Hold your right knee down with your right hand and grab your left shin with the other hand. Pull your left leg behind you as much as you can.

3) Calf
Sit with your legs straight out in front. Loop a belt around the base of one foot. Lean forward slightly with your knees straight. Extend the ankle of the foot that's looped so you pull the top of your foot back toward your body. Use the belt to assist you. Release. Point your toes down.

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