Ironing out the wrinkles

Thank goodness for the remedial massage, or otherwise my legs would be as tight as drum. Its no holiday on the table as the therapist pummels my calves, hamstrings, ITB’s, gluts and quads but it definitely relieves the tight muscles. In fact massage is a crucial element in my injury prevention strategy, especially when I’m training hard. Managing training loads (volume & intensity) is key but the addition of recovery strategies can be the difference to making it to the finishing line or not. While I’ve tried to get massages every 2-3 weeks some athletes will get them more regularly. Other recovery strategies that I also use are water running and self-massage using foam rollers.

The water running is a great way to keep the muscles active but reduce the load on your joints. The technique used for deep water running is similar to your land running, without the foot contact on the ground, but the water provides resistance in all planes of movement and a compressive force around aching muscles. In the past water running has been used by injured athletes to maintain fitness although its nowhere near as exciting as getting out on the road for a run so I tend to only use it every couple of weeks.

Self-massage Myofascial Release (SMR) is another great recovery strategy. I use my foam roller several times a week. Its really effective to relieve tight knots in muscles and fascia, especially my lower calves and ITB’s which seem to wear the brunt of my long runs. It’s a very inexpensive recovery tool that can be self directed and adjusted for exactly where you’re feeling the strain.


Also lets not forget about other key elements in our recovery; sleep & nutrition!

After each training session nutrition is important to refuel and provide nutrients for muscle repair. In the last weeks before the marathon I’ve been careful with my diet to make sure I’m getting everything I need but not over eat. I’ve also given up drinking for a month and thankfully managed to drop a couple of kilos which will be very nice know I don’t have to lug an extra 2 or 3kg along for 3 hrs. By the end of next week I’ll start my carbohydrate loading (which I really enjoy) but my big secret is a low fibre diet for the last few days before the race so I don’t have to take any unscheduled stops during the race. Anyway enough about that…..

These finals weeks of taper are not as important physiologically from a fitness perspective but are still very important to allow the body to rest & recover, going into the race with fresh legs (rather than a full training volume). As always throughout my training, sleep is very important. Too many people sacrifice sleep in today’s busy world, and I’m tempted too as I prepare to take time off from work, but I know how crucial our rest is for recovery & maintaining our health. When we start shaving hours off our sleep we lose some mental alertness but also our immunity becomes compromised, and getting run down or sick is certainly not what anyone wants just before a big event. In fact endurance athletes tread a fine line between training hard and overdoing it. Training through winter many runners experience upper respiratory tract infections (URTI’s). After hard exercise we experience a post exercise immunosuppression making us susceptible to flu and URTI’s. So throughout my training I’ve been looking after myself as best I can. If you find you are constantly run down you may be overtraining so make sure you prioritise recovery ahead of extra training. Sadly too many people don’t even make it to the start line as they become sick or injured and I don’t want to join that statistic.

With 1 week to go til I fly out to NY the taper has started and the nerves are building. I think i’m an impatient runner at times, as I just want to get out on the course & start running now. I’ve been reading the race handbook and preparing my marathon morning plan. It’s a long time to the start as I get on the ferry at 5:30am (probably leaving the accommodation around 5:00) and don’t actually start the race til 9:40am. So pre race brekky and routines become important as I’ll be eating & drinking on the trip down to Staten Island. Plus our wave move into their starting corrals at least 45mins before the race so I’ll need to be organised to avoid wasting energy & timing my final preparations before going into the corral with thousands of others. Warm clothes, pre race meal, fluids, GU’s and a relaxed frame of mind should see me ready to run my best. Bring it on…



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