Complimentary Running and Cycling

My head was still feeling slightly fuzzy today – the second day after the étape. I proved that by driving to Bourg with the intention of a cool relaxing swim and forgetting to take any swimming gear.

After a complete day of vegetating yesterday the first physical thing I attempted today was lying backwards across a Swiss ball to try to stretch out the iliopsoas muscles – much contracted and solicited in cycling. Needless to say they were as tight as well tuned piano wires. It was soon clear that only a partial success was likely and there was no way the body would slink into a relaxed tension free stretch over the ball. Perhaps it’s just as well that swimming was off the menu because that might just have tweaked the back. 
The other way to get deeply into the iliospoas muscles is by running – so that they warm up and go though a full range of motion due to the body being upright – only of course if you run barefoot style – with the stride lengthening behind the body and not in front. Bearing in mind that I have the second étape to do on Sunday and this is already Wednesday it was sensible to just do the short 6.2k trail run. Despite feeling a general tiredness in the legs and body I was most surprised to improve my best time once again – by 35 seconds this time. At one point I opened up the stride and increased the cadence to reach over 20 kph and clocked a 3:30 min kilometre which is a first using this barefoot style. It felt completely relaxed and at no point did any injury feel likely. Opening up the stride and letting the leg extend backwards was precisely the job for sorting out the iliopsoas. After showering I tried the Swiss ball again – with warm muscles – the level of stretch and relaxation being of a totally different order. Despite the speed increase there was no calf pain after the run this time.
Running and cycling are so often seen as incompatible but on the contrary they appear to be extremely complimentary.

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