Massage has been shown to help with recovery rates after training and competition when compared with just resting and as the miles creep up in training for Wicklow 100/200 a massage may be just what your legs need. Work, training and family commitments often mean people can’t get in for a sports massage as often as they would like so a great alternative is self-massage at home using a foam roller. Using a foam roller is a great way to work flush out legs, work out knots and stretch and loosen out tight muscles. When a client uses a foam roller regularly I can notice a difference the suppleness of their muscles, and it is a useful tool to assist with injury prevention.
Foam rollers are cylinders of firm foam approximately 6 inches in diameter from 2 to 4 feet long, although new models in plastic form are also available. Some come with added knobbles to work into knots (or trigger points). They come in different densities with the blue ones often being denser than the white – useful if you are heavier. They work through using body weight to apply pressure on to the muscle. Body movement then helps to roll the foam-roller along the muscle which stretches and massages the muscle.
They are widely available to buy on the internet e.g. Amazon.com, and some bike/sport shops from about €18
Guidelines for use
1. When using foam rollers spend up to a minute 2-3 times a week on the muscle being worked out. It can feel tender on tired or very tight muscles so don’t overdo it at first; your tolerance will start to build over the weeks as you use the foam roller. If you have any concerns ask a Medical Professional.
2. The movments can be large i.e. one long roll along the whole muscle, small – where you roll back and forward over a tight area, or you can just focus on one tender spot and allow the pressure from your body weight gradually cause it to release out.
3. For muscles on the front and back of the legs, you can roll both legs at the same time or do one at a time
4. Do not roll over a joint such as the front of the knee as this could cause injury to the joint.
Note; if you are injured or have an existing muscle or joint problem get medical advice before undertaking these exercises.
Foam Rolling for the Quads (Front of thigh)
1. Place the foam roller on a firm surface
2. Lie face down over the foam roller putting the roller under the front of the thighs
3. Use your arms to push and pull your body over the foam roller from the top of the thigh down to the knee
Foam Rolling for the Hamstrings & Gluteus Maximus
1. Place the foam roller on a firm surface
2. In a sitting position put the roller under the back of the thighs. Lean back onto your hands
3. Use your arms to push and pull your body over the foam roller from the top of the thigh down to the knee. (If you find that you are not getting enough pressure into your hamstring put one leg over the other and this will apply additional weight through the hamstring)
4. To work your gluteus maximus sit on the roller with your legs outstretched and roll back and forward on it
AIDAN HAMMOND will be holding a bikefitting day for Wicklow 200 participants on Saturday 17th May near Bray Co. Wicklow. This will be by appointment only and will be at a reduced rate of 70 euro (40% discount). For any rider unable to make the fitting they can avail of a 25 % discount 90 euro prior to the event. This offer will be available Monday to Friday only 8am until 8pm. Weekend bookings will be 120 euro.
WHAT DOES IT INVOLVE?
Each fitting will take approx. 1 hour and is carried out by a fully trained sports Injury therapist and Cycling Ireland coach and tutor. Aidan has also worked for over 20 years supplying into the bike industry and can offer solid advice on equipment.
To determine the optimal riding position for both power output and comfort, helping to prevent injuries / wear and tear, while improving performance the following is carried out:
Note: This article was written some years back around the month of March. Plenty of time to build your base fitness level by getting in some low intensity 40 mile spins before taking on longer distances.
This advice is aimed at the inexperienced cyclist who may have taken up serious cycling in the past two years and has not yet completed a Wicklow 200. I don’t claim any specialist knowledge, other than I took up cycling four years ago at the age of 37 and enjoy every minute I spend on the bike! By the month of March you will have under 100 days to go and you should be able to tackle spins of 40 to 50 miles at a relatively low intensity. Your training should be geared at building aerobic fitness and endurance. This is done by building up the distance of your spins each week. For most of us the weekend is the only time we get to do a long spin. So aim to get out on Saturday for at least 4 hours. By aiming for Saturday if you miss it because of the weather or a night in the pub on Friday there is always Sunday!
Aerobic fitness is built by training at a speed that enables you to still carry out a conversation. If you have a heart monitor use it, and as a rule of thumb you should aim to keep your heart rate at about 65% of you max heart rate. Again applying a rule of thumb your max heart rate is 220 minus your age (so at 41 years of age mine is theoretically 179). Hills will obviously cause your heart rate to rise, however you should get it back down into the correct zone as quickly afterwards. Resist the urge to free wheel down hill. When you get to the bottom and have to put in some effort you will find that you may have cooled down and the legs may have stiffened slightly. Instead as you go over the crest of the hill, put the bike in a high gear and keep the legs spinning on the way down. I made this mistake on the descent from Slieve Maan last year and it took me about 10 minutes to get the legs moving smoothly again.
The evenings are getting brighter now and it is possible to get out for a spin. Aim to do at least an hour twice or three times a week. Two of these should aim to build power into the legs. You will have to do a lot of climbing on the Wicklow 200 so you will need to build power. This is done by cycling up hills in a relatively high gear. Don’t be tempted to go for too high a gear, otherwise the knees will suffer. Go into a high gear for 5 minutes, then go back to one that is easier to spin. Give yourself time to recover and then do another 5 minutes. Three or four such intervals will help immensely. When doing these type of sessions give yourself 10 to 15 minutes easy spinning at the end to flush out lactic acid from the muscles. You will also have to give yourself adequate time to warm up before tackling the high intensity stuff. Unfortunately as you get older it takes longer to warm up properly! If you begin to feel unduly uncomfortable during these sessions slow down and take it a bit easier. Recovery between sessions is as important as the training itself. Don’t do two high intensity sessions on consecutive days. If possible fit in a low intensity session between the two high intensity sessions. This gives your body time to recover between sessions. It is this repair process that helps you to improve your performance.
For example the following regime provides a good balance between high intensity and recovery.
The high intensity session could go like this:
The recovery session should be at about 60% of max heart rate.
Build your distance gradually, and again applying a well tested rule of thumb increase your mileage each week by no more than 10%, and increase your long spin by no more than the same percentage. After each session you should spend 10 to 15 minutes stretching, paying particular attention to the quads, hamstring, calf and back muscles.
Drink plenty of fluids before and during your sessions. Eat at least every 90 minutes on your long spin. When you finish your long spin you should eat a high carbohydrate snack (energy bar, two bananas, or something similar as soon as possible after you finish). Following this regime will mean that you will arrive at the big day well prepared for the challenge, and secure in the knowledge that you have prepared well. This knowledge alone will be a big help on the day. For first timers I would suggest that this preparation is the best approach.