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Forrest showing me up

Since starting training again for Kona and Moloolaba, I have noticed that I have been getting really tight muscles. Particularly in my shoulders.

I’m not really sure why this is the case. Perhaps I am more stressed from work and life in general, or perhaps it is because I have been working on my swimming and have been engaging my swimming muscles (and hopefully improving!).

Either way, it has really brought home to me the importance of regular yoga and massage. I’m normally quite pressed for time in the morning after my training so I don’t actually stretch or foam roll after workouts. I have good intentions of doing so in the evening but I rarely do. So going to yoga once a week guarantees that I am at least going to get one good stretching session in. I go to The Yoga Lounge in Wellington as the instructor is fantastic and there is a stretch class on at 7am on Friday mornings – my rest day. As a result of doing yoga regularly I have regained some of the flexibility that running and cycling take away. Plus it is a great way of calming my mind from all of my thoughts – work and training related.

As I said, these last couple of weeks I have noticed my muscles getting even more tighter than normal. I started to find that it was getting harder to do the yoga poses and my flexibility was reducing. I obviously needed to do more than just a once a week stretch.

I guess that is also where massage comes in. I usually get a massage every fortnight and leading into Ironman I start trying to fit in weekly ones (I highly recommend Sporting Hands). However, the other week I had to miss my regular massage because of a work commitment. Boy – did I pay for it over the weekend! My body did not like waiting for its massage – it tightened up and was the worst it has ever been. To make matters worse, I could feel my heels starting to hurt again. This is usually a sign that the chain of muscles running up my legs and back are way too tight (but isn’t it weird how where the pain manifests is not necessarily where the problem is?)

I took this as a sign that I needed to try to do more stretching and foam rolling work myself. I rolled and rolled, I used golf balls and a cricket ball to try to get into my shoulders. I also have a smaller stick roller and I use the ends of that to get into my shoulders and the muscles around my collar bone. It was very painful at times but the trick is to actually relax into the pain rather than to fight it. The muscles won’t let go if you are trying to tense them at the same time. I thought I had done well, but the next day the pain in my shoulders was back. I kept trying to massage the tension out but it wasn’t working.

I finally got to see my massage therapist and she managed to fix the issues. But it was quite obvious that I was holding a lot of tension in my back and shoulders. As we were discussing this on the massage table I had a revelation that maybe it was a result of an improvement in my swimming technique – new muscles being worked that were not used to it.

I did feel much better after my massage but it did make it clear to me the importance of stretching and massage. Ideally I would have a massage every week. However, I am restricted by time so this means that I need to do more myself as by the time that my shoulders start hurting it is too late to fix it myself.

One other thing that I am going to try to see if it helps is to do a one-on-one yoga session to get some help with the poses so that I can do them properly at home.

So while it is great that my training is going well and I am seeing improvement, I can’t forget about the recovery part of training.


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