Over the past few years, like many massage therapists in Brighton, I have seen a big increase in the number of runners wanting Sports Massage. Running continues to grow in popularity with events like the Brighton Half Marathon being fully subscribed within weeks of opening registration.
One of the first questions a runner will often ask me is ‘Do you run?’ Up until a month ago the answer was ‘no … not really’ followed by a slightly apologetic explanation that my running was limited to ‘warming up’ on a treadmill prior to lifting weights in the gym. Whilst the treatments I gave were still effective and the hundred or so runners I had treated gave me a wealth of experience to draw upon there was always that slight feeling that I didn’t quite understand the runners experience.
So what changed a month ago? Well in short I signed up for my first event – The Brighton Half Marathon and with a fixed date to work towards found myself immersed in the ‘culture’ or is that the ‘cult’ of running lol.
This transition started with a shopping trip (always a good start) where rather than spend money I ‘invested’ in the essentials that would give me the best chance of keeping to my training plan.
The shopping trip started at RUN on Blatchington Road in Hove where I was informed that buying the right gear would negate my concerns about having to train through a cold, dank and dark British winter. The enthusiasm and experience of the guys in this shop was infectious as I purchased the best all weather gear you can imagine – running tights (!), Jacket, base layer … even underwear.
The next stage in my shopping trip was online as I had to have the best GPS watch for plotting my position, mapping the distance run, my heart rate and calories burnt. I bought a Garmin Watch and downloaded RunKeeper onto my iphone – the two essesntials for anyone wanting to monitor their progress (and bore their friends senseless with pretty maps and lots of stats on Facebook).
A month on and I’ll say this… everything purchased so far has been a sound investment. I haven’t yet run in really cold conditions (apparently they’re coming next week) but I have run in pouring rain and a 35 mile an hour head wind and whilst the gear doesn’t make it easy it does make it easier.
Another thing that makes running easier is training with friends… that feeling that when things do feel tough there are others around you to give you encouragement (or share your pain!).
4 weeks on and already we have completed a 10 mile run (that’s 16 km for my old treadmill buddies) – something I didn’t think I could achieve so soon. It really opened my eyes up to how your body doesn’t always react in the way you think it will. I thought I would ache immediately in my legs but apart from a sore left Achilles, nothing else hurt …..until about 5 hours later when I felt like my abdominal muscles just beneath my rib cage had been punched … and the next day when my calf muscles and quads were tight and achy.
Achieving this distance so soon really shows the important role that strength training can play (getting good strong Glutes, Hip Flexors and legs) since prior to starting my training this was my sole focus…
In part two of this blog I’ll share my experience of working to the 5 ‘S’ s – stamina, speed, strength, skill, and spirit (or Psychology)… lol
Mark Alexander is a Director and Sports Massage Therapist at Natural Balance Therapies in Brighton and Hove. If you are looking for a Sports and Remedial Massage in Brighton you can check his availability and book online at www.anaturalbalance.co.uk