It’s the London marathon on Sunday 22 April and I’m seeing quite a few runners come through my door as usual. The ones I feel absolutely confident in are the ones who have seen me a few times leading up to the race. One or two show up knowing they haven’t prepared properly but hoping a massage will get them through instead. Good luck to them!
Then there’s the guy (nearly always a man) who says he’s going to have a short run on the Friday or Saturday before the race – ‘just to keep things ticking over’. This is a very bad idea. It’s three days full rest before the race – the body needs those days to recover fully from all the training.
Sometimes though I should listen to my own advice because I don’t rest enough between exercise sessions. I nearly always feel like swimming or cycling or working out in the gym but if I don’t have at least one and preferably two days off from exercise each week, I get fatigued. The body craves rest just as much as it craves exercise.
Clients often ask me if they should have a massage just after the marathon. The answer is NO! If you’ve run 26.2 miles, your body will have inter-muscular micro bleeding as the protein in the muscles will have been broken down to make energy after the glycogen has run out. Stimulating blood flow into these muscles is a bad idea and will cause a longer recovery and possible cramping. Better to jump in a cool bath and do come stretching instead.
Post-race runners should however take advantage of any free massage at the venue but get the masseurs to do your back and stretch you. Not your legs. Get a professional massage three days or so after the run.
Having said that, my sports massage teacher was a multi-marathon runner and used always to get a full massage after a run – though that was after jumping into an ice bath.
All in all, it’s one masochistic routine after another. Not surprising really that the first man ever to run a marathon dropped down dead.