After my grueling 13.4 miles last Saturday, this past week proved to be one of the toughest I’ve ever had. It makes sense, I guess, considering 13.4 miles is the longest distance I have run in the 38 years I have been alive.
After easing through a steady 3-miler on Sunday, Monday was a day off. Then the pain began on Tuesday. My usual 4-miler in the neighborhood proved to be a tough task. My time was about the same, but I had to work a lot harder and endure some serious left calf pain to get through it. The calf pain has been a consistent theme recently. I need to figure out why. I’ve tried stretching more and increasing my fluid intake before and after runs. Still, my left leg keeps bothering me. The odd part is, the muscles aren’t tight. I can run and walk fine. There’s just annoying pain.
I’ve been reading a lot about the issue and have determined that there are several possible causes for the pain.
1. I’ve simply been running too much. (I don’t like that reasoning.)
2. I need to ice my calf muscles after runs. (might give that a try)
3. I need new shoes. (Hmmm.)
The guideline for new shoes seems to be about 400 miles, from what most experienced runners tell me. I have about 300 miles on my current shoes, so maybe I’m closing in on that time.
I have some friends at Nike that I plan to talk with next week. Perhaps they will have some “expert” advice for me.
However, there is one thing that I recently read which might be the simple key to why the pain keeps returning: Don’t stretch the strained muscle! That only strains it more. Duh! Makes sense.
Wednesday’s schedule called for 5 miles, which was both good and bad. Bad because I wasn’t sure my legs were ready for it. Good because it took me on a different route through the neighborhood, which provided a change of scenery. The 4-mile route was getting a bit boring.
Thursday called for another 4-miler. I seriously thought about taking the day off for the first time. In the end, I decided to gut it out. I figured when I’m at mile 22 of the marathon, I can’t just stop, so it was simply mind over matter at this point. The mind won out. I’m glad it did.
After a much-needed day off on Friday, Saturday called for another 10-miler. If it was 13 miles, I don’t think I would have made it. My legs were sluggish all week and Saturday was no different. The day became another test of will. At about three miles, I started to have some right hip pain. I shortened my stride and it went away. At the 7-mile mark, my left ankle started to bother me a little. All of these were minor pains, but ones that I hadn’t experienced before. It was satisfying to fight through them and still finish the 10 miles strong.
With about 1/2 mile to go, I decided to see if I could finish with a kick. I gave it everything I had. I mean everything. At one point a cyclist went by me and shouted some words of encouragement. That helped me push through it. My time of 1:12:38 was about 2 minutes faster than my last 10 -miler three weeks ago. A pace of 7:12/mile. Sweet!
I’m beginning to wonder if I might be able to get in a 7:30/mile pace group for the marathon. It’s tempting. That would knock about 13 minutes off my target time of 3:30. Ok, maybe I’m getting carried away.
After 4 miles tomorrow, I head to Minnesota for a week on Monday night. The worst part: It’s the first week of school for my kids and I will miss most of it, although I made sure I booked a late flight, so I be there for my daughter’s first day of kindergarten… Always a special day. The best part: It should be great to run in 60 degree temps in the morning with little humidity for a change. That should be especially helpful when I do my first-ever 15-miler next Saturday.
Oh, and Minnesota has some great walleye!