Trying to keep ice cool as my London Marathon training hots up
As the weeks progress into my training schedule and the length and frequency of my runs have increased, I've noticed more "niggles" in my body. In the past couple of weeks I've found my legs and shoulders in particular are really tight and at times a persistent dull aching in my knee joints, which can even wake me up at night.
The feeling of tightness was almost like an alarm bell alerting me I really ought to be looking after myself and stretching. I've always been quite slack with stretching. I'm often too concerned with heading to the fridge or jumping in the shower immediately after a run. It began to dawn on me that I really need to fix up if I want to avoid injury.
I'd heard my other running friends referring to taking "ice baths" but I'd never really paid much attention because it sounded like some sort of torture. I'd also heard conflicting theories about whether they were actually beneficial, so I'd quickly dismissed them in favour of a more appealing hot shower. As my 18-miler loomed, however, I knew I had to try some new tricks to help me ease this increasing tightness I was experiencing. The theory behind ice baths is that they reduce the swelling in muscle tissues, enabling you to recover faster. The argument against this is that you need this process to improve your fitness from recovery. I was a bit baffled as to what to do but I thought it was worth giving it a try! So it went a bit like this: After I returned home from my first 18 mile run (may I add it had been pouring with rain so I was already soaked and shivering) I bravely lowered myself into a tub of waist level cold water with several trays of ice. I took the edge off by remaining fully dressed in my leggings, put another big hoody on and sipped a cup of hot tea. I then set the timer for 12 minutes before I eagerly jumped out. The experience was far from pleasant but I definitely felt better the following few days than I had in the past after my long runs.
The importance of stretching
A few days later I also went for a Thai massage to ease the tension in my limbs and, whilst this was a bit of an expense (£45), I felt incredible the next day! I'm not sure I am ready for the brutality of a sports massage (although I'm aware I need to have them) but the therapist stretching my limbs worked out all the knots in my shoulders. I've also made more of an effort to set aside time after a run to stretch my legs myself (I've been using this video to help me) although interestingly I've been told to not to "overdo it" after a long run. Apparently the muscles can become loose and pliable which can lead them to being overstretched. It feels like training is a complex formula - you have to always be aware not to do too much or too little practice. I hope I'm doing at least something right but for now I will continue to keep on keeping on!
by Camila Fernandez Marie Curie fundraiser Camila is running the Virgin Money London Marathon for Marie Curie and will be writing a regular blog in the run up to the event in April. If you already have a place for this year’s event, we’d love you to join our Daffodil team to raise money for Marie Curie.