It’s been a while since my last post, but I’m back! And it has been a week or two, let me tell you. After getting all jazzed up for my long run with my last post, I made the bold choice of going for a 6 miler that Thursday night.
The first three miles were filled with pace-destroying calf pain, a totally new issue. I’d had calf strain issues due to overcompensation on that leg in a few recent runs, but nothing like this. I couldn’t go more than 50 yards without walking because of this intense burning sensation from my ankles to my knees. It subsided around mile 3 and was replaced with major chafing for the last 3 miles. BUT I finished 6 in [relatively] good time, then rested Friday and set out Saturday for my long run. And it was bad.
I was motoring through mile 6 when the wheels fell off the wagon. My knees locked up, my calves coiled into tight springs, and I felt a shooting pain grow from the outside of my right foot straight through my right calf up to the knee. I walked in circles, stretched it, even sat on a curb to rest, but it wasn’t having any of that. When I tried to run one last block, my right knee gave out and I had to call my husband to come pick me up.
Talk about a shame spiral while I waited? In 15 minutes, I went from “You can’t even finish a 13 mile training run” to “You can’t finish anything you start, even your marriage is just you trying to pretend to be an adult.”
So I punished my body all of the next day working in the yard, rested on Monday, then tried running again on Tuesday and found that I was ok after 2 miles. Not 100%, but OK. Wednesday I took off from running and told myself to focus on really pushing for a full night of cross training. So I surprised the hell out of myself with a double workout at the gym.
I started with a nice slow stretch, then did 4 miles in 50 minutes on the elliptical. After some more stretching I finished with 25 solid minutes in the pool. Lap after lap, I build my confidence up, stretched out those sore muscles, loosened everything up and generally played mermaid.Then that night I spent some time researching the possible causes of my injuries. I watched videos on common running problems, read up on knee issues, and picked up a few things that I couldn’t wait to try out on Thursday. I was tired by the time my run rolled around after work, so I told myself to go by feel with my new knowledge.
And 6 absolutely pain free miles later I was smiling from ear to ear 🙂
That is one happy runner.
Throughout the run, I focused on 3 little things that added up for a huge difference:
- Shortening my stride. Overstriding is a common running issue that creates knee/calf issues, and as it turns out, I was doing it. A LOT.
- Paying closer attention to my pace. I stopped doing that a while ago because I just wanted to get faster but I only ended up going too fast and burning myself out early.
- NOT paying attention to my overall time. In my rush to get faster, I was too focused on what my overall time should be, and getting discouraged when the number wasn’t what I expected.
By the end of 6 miles, I felt great! Tired and spent, but good. A few aches in my calf, a tight back… I certainly couldn’t have done it all over again back to back to make 12, though. So while I was thrilled to have figured out what was causing some of my major issues I still had some lingering doubts, mostly about how I was going to build up my endurance to:
- do what I just did 3 more times in a row
- PLUS 2.2 more miles for a full 26.2 miles…
- in just 6 weeks.
In my next post, we’ll look at that list in greater detail… and you’ll finally learn what the title of this post is all about!