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Marathon taper madness


I always joke and say we are just large comparisons databases, we compare one persons soft tissue to another's and one side of the body to the other then we compare how the tissue changes when we work. We gather large amounts of data and much of it comes from listening to our clients and when it comes to marathon runners, boy do they love to talk (it's why we have a special little place in our hearts for them/you). They/you give us some really useful information.

So you're going nuts, climbing the wall, hoping this marathon would just hurray up and get here. We say, relax, strap on a heart rate monitor, stick your legs up a wall in a cordoned off area in your house and don't kiss anyone, especially not your kids. Why? Well here's why.

Lets start with the cordoned off area in your house and kissing people: people carry germs, yip those ones that make you sick and ones you don't want just before a marathon. After all that hard training your immune system will take a knock and the last you need is a cold (we've seen this with loads of our clients). Get paranoid and use hand sanitisers excessively, develop a love for hugging rather than handshaking (ok business folk might find this odd). Step away from the handrail! Keep the germs at bay by being vigilant. If you must kiss your kids, air kiss for two weeks. Make it a game and give them a huge hug instead. Then top up with the hand sanitiser on the quiet.

Get your legs up a wall, pull up a good book and enjoy the down time. Elevating your legs up the wall - that nice cold, soothing wall - helps drain all the fluid out the legs, back via the internal organs where fresh food and oxygen can be pumped back in. Lying with your legs up the wall also gives you hamstrings a great relaxed stretch without putting any load on your back and it will allow all those tight muscles in your neck and back to unravel. Support your head if you are reading or task someone to hold the book for you. After all it is your "two weeks" and the hard training you've done at least deserves some reward. If you get into trouble for suggesting it, fashion a book-stand out of things in your house, at least it will occupy your mind for a half hour and focus your mind away from the "M" word.

Strap on a heart rate monitor. This may seem odd given you are not doing any exercise. You can also just take you resting heartrate every morning and save the heart rate monitor for the big day. By checking your resting heart rate everyday, you may notice that it slows down. Don't reach for the defribulator, after the stress you've placed on your body with a massive training load, your fitness increases when you recover. Tapering is a massive recovery period so your fitness will spike during this time, your resting heart rate is an indication of fitness. Therefore it makes sense that it should go down. Drop us a line if it does, we'd love to hear by how many beats. Don't panic if it doesn't go down. Everyone responds differently and your training may have already accounted for this recovery in your plan. You've done your training, you're going to get your head behind your body and there's no way you won't finish the marathon. If you have doubts, do come and see us, well talk up a mental strategy to get you past the finish line and into the pub.

Phantom injuries, ok they seem real to you, so what to do about them. You've just done the hardest training period in your life, you've sacrificed everything you love to do this marathon (unless your one of those addicted to running, then you can skip this section). So why is your knee, hip, shoulder hurting and oh my word is this going to stop me doing the marathon? The mind can blow things way out of proportion, so focussing on a problem and hoping it will go away over night may make the problem worse. If you are worried, get it seen to (by us if you can cause we are experts in phantom and real injuries), or you can build a book stand and if the pain goes away, then get your feet up the wall.

So the simple message here is: DON'T PANIC, rest your legs and save your energy for the day, it will arrive soon enough and you'll wonder why you wasted all that precious energy instead of banking it for the big day.

All that's left for us to say is have a fantastic marathon day, enjoy the crowds and remember a marathon is not meant to feel easy. When your body is complaining think of it as a sign you are working hard, making the most of all the training you did and that you are alive. You are certainly beating anyone who is still on the sofa.

Pain is temporary, glory lasts forever.

Peta McSharry

Peta McSharry is an experienced Sports and Remedial Massage therapist living in London who has been treating clients since 2004 and teaching bodywork since 2006. Her therapy is based on a good grounding in sports along with a structural approach to resolving issues.

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Sports Massage Zone - Moorgate, Liverpool Street, Bank EC2
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1 Throgmorton Avenue
London EC2N 2JJ



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