Half Marathon Training: Week 5 (Foam Rolling is Your Friend)

by katie

My training is going pretty well, but I’m glad I still have several weeks to go because I’m nowhere near ready to run 13.1 miles straight.  One thing that’s really helped so far came as a surprise to me: the foam roller!  To be honest, I’d seen foam rollers lying around the gym, but had never seen anyone using one.  I never thought much about them.  It’s odd in retrospect because now that I use one, I’ve noticed that they are everywhere.  Almost every corner of my gym has a foam roller in it.

The first time I used a foam roller, it had nothing to do with running.  My pilates instructor had us do some floor exercises with the roller under our spines.  It makes balancing very difficult and is a serious core workout.  Then, I signed up for this half marathon like a crazy person.  I started talking to a friend of mine who has done two half marathons in the last year.  She said the foam roller was the only thing that kept her legs functional during her training.  I watched a few YouTube videos about foam rolling and decided to give it a shot.  I wasn’t that optimistic.  I mean, it’s a hard foam cylinder.  What could it really do?

Spoiler alert: it can do A LOT.  I’d been battling some knee pain that I had misdiagnosed as “runner’s knee.”  The part of my knee under my kneecap was always really sore after I ran, and to a lesser extent, during my runs.  I’d tried stretch therapy, which helped, but it was expensive and time consuming.  Enter the foam roller.  I started rolling my legs after my runs and haven’t had knee pain since.  It turns out, one of my thigh muscles was tight and was pulling on my knee, causing the pain.  The foam roller works like a massage, getting rid of muscle tension before it starts.  Genius.  There are many, many videos about foam rolling for runners out there.  I generally follow the moves shown in this one over on the great blog fannetasticfood.com.

Use a foam roller.  It may be the one thing that changes everything for your running.  It was for me!