Q: How to Incorporate Massage into Training?

Hey Lauren

I’ve been thinking of incorporating massage into my training for a fall marathon this year. But unlike mileage or nutrition it’s hard to find info on how serious athletes like yourself fit it into your training schedules in relation to workouts,etc.

I guess that’s my question.

Thanks for doing these,



When I’m in peak training, I get a one hour massage once per week, and so does pretty much every pro runner I know.   This sets me back $200 a month, and I’m very aware that this won’t fly with everyone, but its money well spent for me.  I’d rather live without cable than massage.

When I have a niggle pop up, I go in twice as often for a week or two because I’ve found it clears up exponentially faster:  one is an hour (half the time focused on the root of my sore spot, and the other half general body work,) and the extra massage day is a short 30 minutes exclusively aimed at the problem areas.

on the table

How to incorporate it into your training depends on what kind you get.  The deeper the massage, the more you need to baby yourself afterwards.  In my ideal world, I get massage an hour or so after a hard run (tempo, long run, or interval).  Basically, barely enough time to shower and eat first.  I drink lots of water after the massage to flush out all the cellular waste, and sometimes I have an ice bath after if I have a specific problem area.

Problem is, sometimes I have to book the massage before my training week is set up, and I’ll end up with a massage scheduled the day before a hard workout.  When this happens, I just tell the therapist to do general sports massage and not to go too deep since I have hard training coming up.  The only time you should run after massage on the same day is if you have a few hours between the two to hydrate and let your body normalize first, and the run better be easy.  Very often I have a hard track session in the morning followed by noon massage, and then I run an easy 4-5 miles at 6pm.  It seems to work great.

There are so many kinds of body work, and their respective popularities change as quickly as fashion or diet trends.  Its safest to find a therapist that is recommended by other athletes in your area, or even a former athlete turned therapist.  But you might have to try a few before settling on one.  Find someone who can really tune in quietly to their work, and if they have Eastern or Thai influence, that’s ideal.  They will generally have more tools in their box to keep you tuned up.

I always start by telling the therapist what’s going on, what’s changed, and whether or not I have a hard workout coming up tomorrow.  During the massage I give them feedback along the way if something refers pain to another area, but for the most part, I focus on my breathing, relaxing the muscle a little more with each exhale.  Relaxing into the pain is great practice for competition.  That being said, if you are gripping the sides of the table for the whole massage, find someone else.