Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Get Your Rub On: Massage Means Running Healthy

If I knew exactly how I am able to recover rather quickly from one race and move onto the next, I would bottle it, put a nice label on it, and sell it at marathon expos all over the world. (In fact, I recently found out through some blood work, that not only do I not know exactly how I do what I do, but that virtually everyone should be able to do it better than me. More on that in another blog.)

 I do know, however, that there are certain things I strictly adhere to which have undoubtedly helped me continue to run and race healthy for ten-plus years now. One of those is getting regular massages.

I remember where I was sitting: a sandwich place in Bellevue, WA with my friend Todd in 2006.  It was the day before the now defunct Seafair Marathon. My cell phone rang and I recognized the area code but not the number. I answered and was put in touch with a massage therapist, Terrel Hale, who was donating his services for the rest of the year in order to make sure I was able to complete my 52 Marathons in 52 weekends. Now, I had already been aware of how important massages is to overall health and fitness and was getting one about every month prior to this phone call. At the time it was all I thought I could afford. However, after getting the massages from Terrel for the remaining five months of that year, I changed my tune. Massages were no longer luxuries - they were necessities.

The knock on massages is that they are too pricey. Now living on the other side of the country and many years removed from the massages I received from Terrel, I can understand that rationael, being that they are no longer donated. But people spend hundreds and thousands of dollars on orthotics, hospital trips, doctor bills etc., when a simple $60 massage can help prevent many of those problems. We spend so much money maintaining our cars but so little money maintaining our bodies. When I moved to Salt Lake City, I made it a point to find an inexpensive massage place. Fortunately, I found a school where both practicing students and licensed therapists work together. Are the massages by the students the best in the world? No. Are they very inexpensive and still far better than nothing? Yes! In fact, I could get a massage for three straight weeks for the price of a regular massage elsewhere. That constant maintenance and care to my tired body has paid dividends. Now that I live in Portland, I have been frequenting a few places looking for one that has exactly what I need. In the meantime, even ones which are not perfect are better than nothing.

I have more or less been injured in every sport I have ever played. (Well,, I have never actually sustained an injury from usage as much as I have had accidents befall me.) While I have had aches and pains and soreness abound from what I do with my body in the running and triathlon world, I have now completed 148 marathons and continue to run injury free. Is some of it from genetics? I have no doubt. Is part of it my diet, which I talk about here? No one can rightfully question that. But I also know that taking care of my body not only means fueling it properly from within but also making sure it is cared for from the outside.

The benefits of massage are unchallenged. Physically it helps repair you. Mentally it rests your mind and puts you in a better place. As an athlete these two things are essentially priceless which, if I do the math right, is far less than $60. Don’t think you have it in your budget? Try not eating out at a restaurant once a week. Brown bag your lunch for a few days. The money will add up.

Your body will thank you.

1 comment:

Duncan Mok said...

Please tell me you didn't mean 1482 marathons... I am such an underachiever. But thanks for the tip re massage. ;-)