Ultra Marathon Runner recovery using Light Manual Muscle Relaxation
The ultra marathoner can 'Get the Edge' with Recovery
Except for the top ultra marathoner runners and walkers, and those who are running close distances over an event, most ultras are competing against themselves and their previous times and distances
It is a very social sport where the competitors discuss tactics, how to fix this, that and the other-but with all the information at their fingertips, it is all in their own hands and still comes down to them, the track and how they do on it
The runner/walker is very reliant on their crew to deliver competent care when they are out on the track trying to get as much distance as they can, but unfortunately the crew is like the ultra athlete-they have to learn 'on the job'; meantime, lack of experience from the crew can cause costly time delays
Good crew can make a runner or walker-bad crew can break them
I have personally crewed a few times and I was fairly bad at it, I did not really enjoy it because you are sometimes held responsible for any time loss by the athlete
My interests now are in the recovery area helping the competitors when they are getting in trouble and helping them out of it when I can
Having been involved in ultra marathon for many years now, both in Australia and internationally I have become aware of many problems faced by ultra marathoners and the way that different people approach dealing with them
I have been able to compare the best of approaches and the worst of them and come uo with a reasonable assesment of the systems that are used out on the track to make the event as comfortable as possible for runners and walkers
Recovery-an area of confusion
An area in which the crew can play an important role in and and one in which there is much confusion, is that of recovery during time running/walking and after the end of a session is in recovery
This area that can make or break an event and to the average crew, it can be confronting because they do not have any idea how to approach it-yet done quickly and efficiently it can increase a runner/walker's distance by giving them 'the edge' over their fatigue and muscle soreness
Recovery methods in ultra are many and varied depending on the athlete, person doing recovery and facilities at the venue
If the event is at a running track, the facilities can range from top line to the non-existent, the organisers may have been able to arrange massage therapists to assist with recovery or they may not, the therapists may have experience working with ultras or fresh out of massage school
Depending on which school they went to, the techniques they have been taught may or may not be adaptable to the conditions at the track, or the special needs of ultras
2007 recovery area Antibes 6 Jour event-top class facilities
2007 World 24 hour championships-the chair next to the bottles-my working area
Some events do not have any coverage at all
The Problem-fatigued legs in ultra marathon and dealing with them
these are some points to consider
are you going to accept them or take some positive action?
do you know anyone who can help you recover the legs and what is their background?
when you are fatigued are they going to come and help you recover?
what is their cost and will they be ongoing?
there is a shortage of experienced people who deal with recovery after sport and you may not have access to any of them when you need it
Light Manual Muscle Relaxation solves the problem-
it lets you become the expert and simply do it yourself!
(its easier than you think)
I recently attended an international long distance event where there were hundreds of runners-other than the recovery people such as myself who were taken by a team from their country, the organizers did not have one therapist to help the rest when they got into trouble-they could not find any to volunteer their services
To spend all that time aiming for a running goal then leave the recovery to chance is not a good tactic to improve performance in subsequent ultra marathons
What happens on the recovery table can impact on recovery, training and performance in a not very beneficial way by using 'enthusiasm' rather than knowledge.
To illustrate the problems that can be caused when a heavier type of massage is used below is a quote from Sandra Brown taken from her advice sheet for the Surrey Walking Club.
"The second tear (at least I have matching legs with old tears on both sides) was caused, to my great annoyance at the time, by an overenthusiastic physio who was supposed to be helping me to warm up gently before a 24 hour race and got carried away. I am now more wary of having physio at any time, and make sure that I stay in control, by saying at the outset what I want and don't want to be done to me. Having never had a persistent injury (my varied training pattern means that any niggles have the chance to heal quickly, rather than get hammered and go critical,) I have never had regular physio or a steady relationship of trust with any physiotherapist who knew me and my needs. The closest I have come to this was receiving massage from Michael Gillan during the Nanango (Queensland) 1000-mile race in 1996. I had no hesitation in having a massage from Michael again at the end of the Melbourne 100 miles walk in 1999. Michael's approach is very gentle at all times, and always works with the athlete and puts the athlete in control, thus minimising the risk of harm and maximising the benefit.
Very occasionally I will feel tightness in one or other hamstring, but I am lucky that neither tear has become a real problem. These days I stretch pretty diligently after exercise and am convinced of its value, and my cross-training approach plays a part; I am sure, in keeping me free of overuse injuries. More on stretching another time."
What Sandra is saying is that enthusiasm is no subsitute for experience
This is what Sandra says about experience
Michael's methods of massage and blister care helped me to stay mobile throughout the race and to recover quickly afterwards. His techniques are safe and gentle.
Unlike some treatments, which put the runners and walkers at risk of muscle tears or infection, Michael's techniques are light, safe, reassuring, and highly effective.
They enhance comfort and flexibility, build confidence, and promote success.
This booklet will help others to learn and practice Michael's methods.
It is recommended reading for everyone who walks and runs and who wants to go further, go faster, or just to enjoy life more!!'
1996 Ladies 1000 Mile World Record Holder
1999 Ladies 100 mile Race walking World Record Holder
"I know that your massage kept a number of competitors in the event.
The cold weather of Saturday afternoon and night certainly got to many of the walkers and your prompt action had them back in the race after a short stop.
In years past, that would have ended up as a non-finish; a number of walkers were able to keep going for the full 24 hours on the basis of your expert help."
Tim Ericson Secretary Australian Centurions Club
'I have known Michael Gillan for many years and have always got quick relief for my aches and pains from the stretching he performs'.
CLIFF YOUNG-Ultra marathon runner
Where to from here?
The biggest obstacle to recovery is lack of knowledge and affordability
The 3 main obstacles to a fast recovery plan are
The confidence to take on responsibility for self management
In the chart of the Colac 1995 six day event below it is possible to see the effect fatigue, stiffness and soreness can have on performance and recovery-it also reflects the difference in the change of approach from working on the muscles to working with them
Stiffness and soreness are part of the recovery process
During an ultra, whether it is measured in hours, days or weeks, the body is under traumatic stress that it finds difficulty in coping with and adapting to-the muscles and micro physiology environment are constantly trying to recover and heal the damage to the muscle fibers and the rest of the body affected by being constantly on the track or road
In other running or walking sports, such as marathon, or racewalking, the competitors go home to recover at the end of the day, but in ultra, after a rest the body has to get up, back on the track and do more distance, so soreness and stiffness become something you just have to endure
Working on the muscles
Trying to physically overcome them using systems that work on the muscles during which 'uncontrolled finger force' breaks into this process leaving the body to heal all over again
Working with the muscles
Working with the muscles as done in Light Manual Muscle Relaxation overcomes stiffness without breaking into the recovery process and enables the muscles to move freely without causing them further traumatic stress and further injury to recover from
Unlike other methods of recovery, very little skill is needed
Light Manual Muscle Relaxation works with the muscles not on them because it uses the 'snowshoe' effect of spreading the load, weight and pressure of the hands and fingers so does not stimulate pain receptors or produce friction or heat-therefore it can be done 'on demand' or as often as required
Light Manual Muscle Relaxation the tested trusted oil free alternative
Why is it oil free?
Conventional methods need oil provide lubrication between the hands and skin as they rely on the skills of the practioner at working on the muscles to be of use
Light Manual Muscle Relaxation only uses the hands and the knowledge of using them effectively
This gives the unsupported athlete the independence from unknown recovery assistance who may have the belief that it is them doing the recovery-not the body itself
Some basic points on recovery that tend to be overlooked by athletes
Self-maintenance is an option for those whose capacity to pay for or access to massage therapists is limited-but information on how to self-maintain without getting into the technical aspects of 'petrissage' and 'rowing stroke' is also limited
Lack of financial reserves-ability to study-facilities such as massage schools and teachers for learning the handskills required for modern massage techniques impact on the benefit that flow from massage were it available
If you can afford the costs of having ongoing manual therapy-and have no problem accessing the services of a massage therapist in your team, you are lucky-if not tough
To do a full course in recovery systems will cost hundreds of dollars in fees, there is also the time needed to study physiology, anatomy, and the hand skills needed to do it.
And then it may not be suitable for the athletes needs because it may not be portable, you will also have to carry oil, massage table, towels, or effective enough.
It may be beyond the talents of many people and to hire someone to do it for them is very expensive and this makes it unaffordable.
It would be cheaper and more effective to pay me for the knowledge I have because I am the one who developed and tested Light Manual Muscle Relaxation over many years.
It is very difficult for everyone to win a race, but in this situation everyone does; with your support I get to on the World Run and the sportsperson gets the very same recovery system I will be using on World Run 2!
US$20.00 ebook PDF format
Immediate Post Event Recovery After Running
Immediate Post Event Recovery After Running
Blister Fixing Article
References and citations
PubMed Manual massage and recovery of muscle function following exercise: a literature review.
PMID: 9007768 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
The mechanisms of massage and effects on performance, muscle recovery and injury prevention.
PMID: 15730338 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
SOURCES: Hinds, T. Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise, August 2004; vol 36: pp 1308-1313.
The events I have worked at
Modelling in the manual by Nicholas (16)
Photographs by Jessica (7)