I'm still catching up on blog posts -- don't worry, the post about my marathon is still in the works and hopefully coming out soon. I already wrote about preparing for my marathon the day before, but as all athletes know, preparation starts much sooner than that. In addition to all the hours running, the focus on nutrition, and trying to get enough sleep while running, parenting, and researching, I also had to keep my body strong, healthy, and injury free so I could continue training and I could run the marathon. Endurance runners will tell you to be sure you are rolling and stretching. Unfortunately, for many of us, we don't do this as well or as often as we should. This season, I added another tool to my toolbox - sports massage.
I'm going to write about my experience and how I used massage, but the evidence is clear - regular massage (not just one pre-race massage) is beneficial to athletes (see https://www.runnersworld.com/injury-prevention-recovery/the-pros-and-cons-of-massages-for-runners) and there are a lot of benefits to incorporating massage (and foam rolling) into your practice (https://www.runnersworld.com/for-beginners-only/benefits-of-massage-for-runners).
Massage became a part of my routine. First, it was a treat. Having never run more than 13.1 miles, very early in the season I was running a new longest run ever every 2-3 weeks. I scheduled a massage for the Thursday after each of these. Why Thursday? Because my workout schedule had me working out Thursday morning and having Friday as a rest day. This gave my body time to relax and recover. Then, it was long-run Saturday. Second, it helped with tightness and aches and pains. Early in the season, I was battling some Plantar Fasciitis. Throughout the season as the miles ramped up, I would have tightness - sometimes in my hip, sometimes in my piriformis, sometimes in my shoulders (oh, sleeping with small children). I was able to keep my body from getting too tight, my form from being too affected, and myself from being injured through regular massage (and regular chiropractic care as well). Finally, I used massage to keep everything from being tight before a race and to aid recovery after a race. So early in the week before the marathon, I got a sports massage. Then 2 days after the marathon, I got another sports massage. Doing this, I was able to run one of my fastest 5ks every 1 week after my marathon without pushing myself - my body was feeling good and loose and ready to go despite having run 26.2 miles just a week prior.
The key for me was finding a good sports massage therapist. Abby Reed is phenomenal - https://www.facebook.com/AbbyReedMassageTherapy/. She specializes in sports, deep tissue, and rehabilitation massage. I am always impressed with how well she is able to find the tight spots and to work them. She uses both massage and stretching to help those muscles I need for running. My training partner Jennifer was having knee issues. She saw a physiotherapist, and then, she went to get a massage from Abby. After giving Jennifer a massage, Abby was able to show her on a muscle anatomy poster what was going on with her knee. Jennifer said that Abby was better able to explain what was causing her knee issues than the physiotherapist could. Both Jennifer and I agree that Abby really knows physiology and how muscles work, especially for runners. Moreover, Abby's home massage office is comfortable and the perfect environment for relaxing. Abby has put much thought into the decor, lighting, scents, and music. Her table has a warmer (so glorious in the winter!). She has a towel warmer for helping with those tight spots and ice packs for when muscles need it. Even now that I am not marathon training, I continue to incorporate regular massage to help me stay injury free and to relax.
I am excited to partner with Abby (who is training for her first half marathon!) to offer the gift of massage to 3 other runners! We will be doing a drawing February 1, March 1, and April 1 to give away a 30-minute upgrade to a 60-minute massage. Abby's massages are already affordable, and this means you get extra time for Abby to focus on those tight spots and help loosen you up so you can run better! To enter: you must be registered for the Derby Festival Minimarathon, Marathon, or Relay and have chosen me (Jill Adelson) as your race ambassador. Then, (1) Like Mama is a Runner on Facebook, (2) Like Abby Reed Massage on Facebook, and (3) like the Facebook post about this blog.