If there was one thing in my training that was lacking... it would be the amount of stretching I do. I am horrible with stretching. I could log in miles of running, but that would outweigh the amount of seconds I stretch.
So why is stretching so important? It's because it helps with the contraction and extension of your muscles. Your body comes with pairs of muscles. Opposite to your biceps, the triceps work, and when your biceps contract, your triceps extend. The same goes with the muscles in my legs. When one contracts, the other extends, and vice versa. If my body is not flexible, it means that my muscle extension is limited. If my body IS flexible, then my muscles will be able to extend more, removing the previous limits.
Using the biceps and triceps, let's figure out how they work. First off, if I was not flexible, that means that my extension would be limited. Secondly, the lack of flexibility would impend my movements, making me work harder to move. Now let's say I am trying to reach the top shelf which is way above my head. I would have to extend my arm to reach it. In order to extend my arm, my biceps would have to extend as my triceps contract at the same time. If I am not flexible, my biceps would have a harder time extending, and so my triceps would have to work extra hard in order for the biceps to work. The same goes for the muscles in the legs. If I don't stretch and become flexible, when I run, I overwork my muscles because they would be working against each other. In order to run efficiently, you need to have all your muscles working together in a fluid motion. NOT fighting against each other, because all that energy could be used to run faster or further.
Working together is an important thing when it comes to endurance running, because the body needs to run as efficiently as possible, not wasting any energy. If you let the body fight itself in that sense, you're not improving as fast as you possibly can. If you become flexible, your body would be able to move efficiently, able to do more things with ease... which is why flexibility is very important.
Stretching is something that I really need to work at, and this month, I have decided that I will stretch for 15 minutes every day. No matter what I do, I will stretch and improve my flexibility, so that I would be able to run as efficiently as possible. Today, I was too sore and tired to run... so I didn't. I'll have to wake up early tomorrow morning to run before work, so THAT'S going to be fun, haha.