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Training for an ultraYesterday on my 50km training run, an observer would assume nothing at all. I ran at a very steady plod, consumed 3 litres of water, endured my first trial with eating salted boiled potatoes (Yes I am proud not be a doper and only use salted boiled potatoes and some Ibuprofen occasionally! I am a clean athlete!!) and tired at the end, yet in three weeks I have to do twice that distance… The comparisons with an Olympian were hard to find after hobbling home exhausted.

After yesterday I know “elite performance” is not something I share with Olympians. Perhaps enthusiasm is something I do share with many Olympic athletes, but more importantly… Kinesio Tape. We both look like Spiderman with a hangover.

The difference between me and an Olympian is that they use Kinesio Tape to enhance their performance whereas I use it to repair my injuries!!

Since the Flight4Life project in Australia I have had a stubborn knee injury. The worst thing for healthy knees I find is to run on the road. I love running on trails, the uneven surface gives my ankles a workout and I can run for three hours without my feet hurting. Roads on the other hand have a way of making my knees sore, my feet sore and my head bored. All these things I have to overcome in Guatemala in a few weeks time. Add in to the mix a knee injury that is aggravated with road running and I have a little cause for concern.

Now is the time when my head starts playing games with me. Do I have what it takes? Can I go the distance? Will I be able to finish in the allotted time? Of course all these questions will be going through my head during the run. The adage that getting to the end of an endurance event is 90% mental and the other 10% is in your head is so true. While the body may hurt, the head may be asking silly questions, much of the skill is taking charge of those messages and countering them with a stubborn perseverance.

I am not talking about ignoring the signals from the body that are genuine and indicate that something has gone wrong, but the important point to remember is that when you run 100km and you are doing it for the first time, some stuff is going to hurt…

So after visiting one of my sponsors my legs looked like a cobweb, a very brightly coloured cobweb. My masage threapist, Paul Dournovo was recently trained in Kinesio Taping. It is the tape that you see during the Olympics or the Tour de France. Paul’s company, Apple Valley Massage and Kinesio Taping, has been one of the professional partners that helps keep my aging body going!

There has been some confusion over what Kinesio Tape actually does. Many athletes think it simply provides support for various areas of the body, similar to Physio tape. In truth it is much more complicated than that. I certainly don’t profess to completely understand it, but here is what I have learned over the past few weeks.

When applied the tape should not be stretched in most circumstances. In most instances a slight 10-20% stretch will suffice. Unlike Physio tape that is applied to prevent injuries from getting worse by providing support, the Kinesio tape takes a different approach. It actually serves to lift the skin slightly which I am assuming might have the effect of blood getting to the area more easily.

Developed in Japan, it is believed to improve circulation and lymph drainage, two things that could benefit any athlete in performance and recovery. Is it a miracle cure? I doubt it, and likely it will take some experimentation for each person to find out how they can best derive benefits.

For me, the immediate indicator that something was happening was extra heat in the area. In fact, after I had one knee taped and the other left alone there was a physical difference between the temperature of both knees. I ran a marathon like that a few weeks ago, with one leg taped and the other not. Interestingly, the taped leg was stronger through the run than the untaped leg.
Years ago, I would honestly say that I did not know my body well enough to know the difference, but now, after so much training I can honestly say there was a noticeable difference.

The other important aspect for me was recovery. When I did my first marathon a year ago I remember being very stiff the following day, and this year, my youngest son turned to cursing every step at UBC upon returning to University after running the Kelowna marathon with me. This year, in fact these past two weeks where I ran a marathon, followed by a weekend off and then a 50km training run, recovery has been rapid. After the event, I am naturally tired and need to eat, drink and sleep, however, there has been little to no soreness or stiffness in my legs. After the first marathon I did a 10km run 24 hours later with no feeling of tiredness in my muscles at all.

Is this conclusive evidence that Kinesio Tape is the next miracle treatment for baby boomer athletes, or is it something you should take the time to learn about? I would say the latter is true. Visit a certified taping professional and talk about what you can expect from a treatment. Give them feedback and see what happens. Like me, you may end up being surprised.

Check out Apple Valley Massage and

Authentic Kinesio

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