As I close in on 4,000 miles on two wheels for the year so far, compared with just over 5,500 miles for the whole of 2013, I’ve noticed in recent weeks that the extra miles I’ve been putting in this year are starting to take their toll. Those that know me will know that I haven’t been an endurance athlete for my whole life (and still aren’t I hasten to add!), but I’ve noticed that my legs have been feeling pretty jaded of late. I’ve even experienced quite a bit of cramp in my calves lately on shorter rides when I know I’ve not been dehydrated or spent hours sweating like a constipated elephant.
Although one of the luxuries I’m afforded on my LEJOG ride is a massage every other night to help keep the legs turning, the only massage I’ve ever had (despite my reputation) was in the British Airways Business Class lounge at Heathrow T5. And even then it was a head and shoulder jobby whilst I was pinned to one of those vibrating chairs. After a couple of gin and tonics. I therefore had visions of my first sports massage somewhere in a field in the middle of Somerset at the end of day 2 resulting in massive leg muscle spasms leaving me unable to walk let alone ride a bike.
I thought it might be a good idea to get myself worked over to see if I couldn’t bring my legs back to life without having to ease up on the miles (as I’m still harbouring faint hopes of nailing 10,000 by the end of the year), and also to make sure I wouldn’t need to be medevaced to the nearest yoga centre whilst my fellow lejoggers watch on in bemusement. Now, I noticed on Twitter that there’s a couple of guys from Guernsey who are running 7 marathons in 7 days (really, why? It’s much more fun on a bike) who have been using a chap based in St Peter Port to sooth their weary legs, so I gave him a call and got myself booked in.
To be honest I didn’t know what to expect (perhaps it’s too many Bubbles DeVere sketches from Little Britain), but I was expecting something a lot more painful than what I got. Yes, it was pretty uncomfortable on my right calf, the one that’s been cramping the most (and is apparently going to need some ‘extra work’), but I didn’t stiffen up as I expected I would and the next day I felt pretty good on a reasonably hard paced hour ride before work. The tops of my thighs certainly felt a bit better, so it will be interesting to see how I feel after a couple more sessions, especially as I cramped again in my right calf later that night after a quick evening blast down some lanes on the ‘cross bike.
It was also interesting to get an understanding of how the massage works. Rather than flushing out lactic acid, the aim is to release the tense twisted fibres, or knots, in order to aid blood flow to the muscles allowing more oxygenated blood to flow to extremities when needed apparently. The science certainly seems to make sense, and I’m well aware that pro-cyclists regard them as an essential part of their training, so even if I can’t ride like a pro I might as well get massaged like one!