This year I have really come to understand and appreciate the benefits of athletic massage. I started when I was having hamstring troubles, and found the perfect fit in Debbie Lipski. She has worked with cycling teams on race events and understands the pain that we put our muscles through. She alleviated the hamstring tightness immediately, allowing me to recover and continue training. Without her help, I probably would not have completed the climbing challenge.
Yesterday was my pre-Mitchell massage. It felt amazing. The more I abuse my muscles, the better the massage feels. I hurt them pretty thoroughly this past Saturday. My left side was particularly tight, both the quads and the hamstrings. That probably means I favor that side and could use work on my form. That comes later. It was painful when she put pressure on my left quad, but felt so good at the same time. All the soreness was slowly leaving my body.
I have been supplementing that massage with foam rolling. When I was doing the hard work, I would practically be on the rollers nightly. I even pulled out a rolling pin and would roll my quads as if they were pizza dough. It still hurt, but in a refreshing way and would allow me to bounce back quicker.
Now that I’m finished with the massage, I feel like a new, relaxed person. Since I’m only tapering this week, my muscles should be more than ready to tackle the big mountain.
I have been fortunate to not have many obstacles thus far in my cycling. In the last couple of years I have gradually improved and have become a pretty strong rider. Knock on wood, right? This past week I suffered my first real setback, which I hope will be a minor one, but I am not taking any chances.
After last weekend’s ride, I noticed that my right hamstring was tweaked. It hurt a little more than usual during the ride, which I attributed to the heavy volume of the past couple of weeks. After the ride it remained tight and is still sore a few days later. Flexibility has not returned and it is clear now that I pulled it somewhere along the line.
I think it first happened a few weeks ago when I climbed Richland Balsam Mountain. That was the day after Clingman’s Dome and I started climbing without warming up. Even then I noticed it being tighter than usual and it didn’t warm up until midway through the climb.
It has not been much of a bother and I know I could ride through it, but I also know that hamstring injuries can nag. They can also get worse if not rested. I’m overdue for a recovery period anyway, so I decided to take some time off this week.
First up will be an athletic massage. A friend recommended someone who treats cyclists regularly, who I will see tomorrow. That should give me some relief. Combined with resting during the week, I should be good to go for this Saturday’s mountain ride. Thankfully this one (Tour de Lure) is organized, so I can go at my own pace.
There’s a chance this will be a momentary blip and I’ll feel fine by the weekend. If so, I’ll continue and possibly even ride on Sunday. If not then I’ll balance resting with training. Fortunately I have made enough progress that I can just maintain my current fitness and probably do well. We’ll see how it goes.