Gab's Hackney Half Marathon Story - The Benefits of Self-Myofascial Release


Earlier this month, co-founder Gab ran the Hackney Half marathon in London. It was not his first, nor was it his fastest. Though it was by far his most enjoyable and a great demonstration of the benefits of self-myofascial release. Here’s why.

I have always done a lot of cycling and a small amount of running but since moving to London, I haven’t had a bike with me. Rather than get frustrated, I’ve started to use my lack of wheels as an opportunity to run.

Fast-forward 4 months and I’m totally hooked. I think about running every day and I talk about it to the point that I’ve become a bad dinner party guest. When I run, I listen to podcasts about running. At one point during this honeymoon phase, a friend suggested we run the Hackney Half. I was keen to sink my teeth into my first London event so I immediately replied “count me in”.

After signing up, the first thing I did was write myself a program. I had run a 90-minute half marathon twice before and I was ready to smash my PB. With a few minor exceptions, I was able to stick to my plan and really enjoy training – the romance was just getting started.

That is, until 2 weeks out.

I was out on a long run, with one more planned before the race when suddenly, my calf had other ideas. In the last 3km it started feeling really tight. I didn’t give it much thought as otherwise I was feeling good and was distracted with my favourite podcast - Inside Running - so I pushed on.

“The next day my calf had become significantly tighter and angrier. I was forced into a limp and walking was painful. I was heartbroken as I knew my race was almost certainly off.”

Initially I worried I had a minor tear so I held off any massage, though after a couple of days it was clear the muscle was just tight and it was pulling on my Achilles. 5 days after the tightness first started I tried my cork roller to see if it would help. I started gently and after a few minutes I was actually feeling it start to relax. The next day I woke up and was able to walk without any obviously feeling in my calf – a significant improvement! In the following days I spent more time on the roller, massaging my calf out morning and night. As I gently increased the pressure, my calf was starting to feel better.

I decided to test it out and went for a gentle cruise. I reached 5km before I felt anything in my calf, this was real progress! For the rest of the week I rolled first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Slowly, the potential to run Hackney was regaining momentum in my mind. As I felt better with each additional day my thoughts disappeared from my tight calf, and turned to my training plan which had completely gone out the window. In the 2 weeks prior to the race I struggled to do any meaningful running. I still had ambitions to run a PB but to be honest I didn’t really care about that anymore, I just wanted to run.

I generally use my cork roller multiple times a week as a means of pre-habilitation to prevent muscle imbalances and keep my legs in decent shape. As a result, I have rarely been affected by injury. This was one of the first times I’ve really needed to take self-myofascial release seriously as an injury management tool.

“To say I’m pleased with the result is a serious understatement.”

The day of the race came around and I almost surprised myself with how pumped I was to be standing on the start line. Unfortunately, I went out hard, blew up half-way and struggled on the way home. I came in bang on my previous PB but didn’t care as I’d given it a serious crack!

I’ll always enjoy pushing myself and running fast, but this experience was a nice reminder that what really makes me happy is keeping my body moving and injury free.

— Gab