Okay I gave up pretty quickly.
I don't have the patience to wait a full week to hear if I'm actually IN for the Marine Corps Marathon and to start planning some training patterns. Starting last Friday (yup, only one day after entering the lottery that won't post results until tomorrow) I jumped the gun a bit and drastically increased my running mileage with an 8 mile day followed by a 4 mile day. This is about four times the mileage I've run in the preceding three weeks combined? I know, typically not a smart move, but somehow I managed to survive and actually thrive on those runs! And that's good, because I threw myself into a half marathon in less than two weeks, so I'm happy to know I can cover at least the majority of that distance without dying.
Now, it's not like I hopped off the couch and decided I would start running miles upon miles on a whim. Even if I haven't been running consistently, I have been teaching group ex classes multiple times each week and working on a lifting schedule as well. My fitness base is present and surprisingly strong, so launching into what is for me a pretty long run wasn't as crazy and impatient as it seems from some angles. It was still more than my body was probably ready for, but at least I knew that going into it - and was ready to handle the aftermath of pushing my body a little. I've learned so much about post-run muscle care and recovery, and I finally have just about a full array of instruments for properly treating sore and knotted muscles thanks to the most recent addition to my fitness arsenal: a muscle roller stick.
Disclaimer: I received this product at no cost in exchange for my review. All opinions expressed herein are my own.
While I have several foam rollers of varying densities, textures, and lengths, none of them have been quite right for some of my worst knots and toughest sore spots. For some reason I'm bad at controlling where the foam roller's pressure goes, and how much pressure I put on the muscle at the point I'm rolling. One of the biggest benefits I've experienced using the Live Infinitely roller stick is that I have SO much more control over my rolling. I can angle the stick just right to get at any knot, and make minute adjustments mid-roll that I can't do very easily with a traditional foam roller. I'm also able to more deftly control the amount of pressure I put on the stick (and therefore on the muscle) while tending to my sore spots. Unfortunately, I'm not quite flexible enough to reach my back with the stick, which pretty much has to be hand-held, so I'm still using my foam rollers since I can set them on the floor and not have to contort to use them! But it's probably for the best, since the one time I had someone else try rolling my back with the stick, my hair got caught between the roller segments!
Caring for muscles following heavy workouts or long runs can make or break a training plan. I've already seen benefits from using a combination of foam rolling, stick rolling, stretching/yoga, and compression gear post-run and post-lifting: I am less sore for a shorter period of time, and my next workout doesn't suffer from weak, overtaxed muscles. Just as I'm trying to establish a better, more consistent running plan as I anticipate running a full marathon, I'm also trying to build better recovery and care habits to match the new workload I'll be putting on my body. By staying at the top of my self-care game, hopefully I can avoid injury and see maximum returns on my workouts, which will (hopefully) lead me to an amazing success at the end of the year!
How do you keep your self-care game on point? Do you prefer traditional foam rollers or muscle sticks? What's your favorite way to take care of sore muscles after a tough workout?