Step 3: Stretch Your Workout

Don't let that injury-dodging flexibility you've been working on since March fade as you ramp up your intensity. Try the following combinations of dynamic (moving) and static (stationary) stretches after a brief warm-up.

    Photo: Illustration by Chris Philpot

1. HAMSTRINGS
ON THE BIKE: While coasting with your feet in the 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock positions, push your belly button down to the top tube and bring your chest down to the handlebars. To make it dynamic, shift your butt back back on the saddle. Switch legs and repeat.
ON THE TRAIL: Put your foot up on a rock, branch, or other support that is about six to 12 inches higher than your knees. Keep your hips and feet pointing in the same direction as the leg you're stretching, and pull your chest toward your knee.

2. CALVES
ON THE BIKE: Stand in the pedals and drop one of them to the 6 o'clock position. Let your heel sink toward the ground. Contract the calf and gently lift up onto your toes for one to two seconds. Slowly work in and out of the stretch position several times, then switch legs.
ON THE TRAIL: Basically the same as above, only you'll be using a rock, log, or curb so that your heel can sink below the ball of your foot.

3. HIP FLEXORS AND BACK
ON THE BIKE: With one foot at the bottom of the stroke and your hands firmly on the bars, lightly weight your hands and shove your hips forward while arching your back. Switch feet and repeat.
ON THE TRAIL: Kick your foot up on that hip-height rock and contract the muscles of your abs and lower core. Shift your hips forward and sink into the stretch. You should feel the pull in the front of the hip and thigh.

4. IT BAND AND SIDE OF HIP
ON THE BIKE: With your right pedal at 6 o'clock and your knee slightly bent, shift your right hip slowly to the outside until you feel a gentle tension in the muscles. Shift back to work the glutes. Shift forward to work the hips.
ON THE TRAIL: With your left foot crossed over the right, push your right hip to the right while reaching over your head with your right hand. (You should look like a banana.) Go into the move slowly, with a little muscular tension, and feel the stretch in the top of your hip.

5. QUADS
ON THE BIKE: With your left foot at 6 o'clock, unclip from your right pedal and pull your foot up and behind you until you can rest your forefoot on the saddle. Sit back on your heel. Keep moving in and out of this position on both sides.
ON THE TRAIL: Pull your foot behind you and set it on a rock or the hood of a car. Nothing available? Just grab your foot and pull it toward your butt. Contract your lower abs and suck your belly button in toward your spine. Don't let your knee drift to the side; keep it pointed straight down.

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