Friday, February 21, 2014

A Return to Form

This week sucked. Sorry, I know I usually start off more positive, but when you have a house full of sick people and every training run has been a slog you tend to lose that positive vibe. Yes, the flu/a cold/whatever hit the house this week so one or all of us have been walking around like a dry-cough-hacking-snuffling-zombie. Thankfully we are all on the mend. And yes, of course I ran through it-racing heart beats, snotty nose, hacking cough and all. My runs have been sooo painful this week it's just been hard to find the motivation to get out there. Something funky is going on with my lower legs, to the point where my calf muscles tighten and the front of my shins just plain hurt after about 2 miles. Of course Googling this pain gives me everything under the sun as a possible condition; diabetes, blood clots, compartmental syndrome, stress fractures, shin splints. etc. The list goes on and on. I tried a few at-home ideas, none of which actually helped for more than a mile or two. So then I just stopped. No not running, well, sort of. I stopped the taping, bandages, compression gear, extra shoe padding...all that and went back to basics. I grabbed my indoor track outfit, my vibram sprints, a pair of toe socks and off I went to try another 6 miler. When I got to the indoor track I saw lots of other runners and walkers. The cold and wet weather has made for almost impossible walking conditions outside so the indoor track has become a haven for mile-obsessed runners like me and normal people just looking to stay healthy year round. I got changed and went to put my toe socks on when I encountered one of the pitfalls of owning lots of toe socks-I had grabbed the same "foot" for both socks from my dresser drawer! I looked suspiciously at the baby toe sock and my big toe, and prayed the bit of cotton in the sock would give alot of stretch! With a push and a pull the wrong toe sock was on the right foot. Shaking my head at myself I went out to the track, set my podrunner music to a steady 180 bpm song and off I went. After about 2 miles of circles I self assessed and realized that going back to a strict 180bpm step combined with my Vibrams had my legs feeling better than they had all week. My calf pain was still there, just much more localized, and when I changing what part of my foot I was rolling through I was able to relieve the pain. My shin pain was also more localized to one leg. I noticed it seems to cause a bit of swelling that extends down to the side of my ankle. After another 2 miles though the pain was almost gone completely. So was it all just a matter of correct form? I'm not sure, but I know by wearing my vibrams I couldn't heel strike so my legs were not only hitting the ground with less force but my stride was also shorter by running to the 180bmp music. Combine those and it seems to have reduced the weird leg pain. What caused the pain to begin with? I think it was a combination of doing too much too soon, in my case, too many miles too quickly. I should have transitioned a bit more slowly between December and January and I ignored the extra tiredness I was feeling for adding on extra miles and the stress at work. I should have dropped back to the 50 mile/week plan sooner than I did, but that's all part of training, learning what you should and shouldn't do and what worked for me. So, I've dropped back my weekly mileage a bit and decided that if my runs are indoors I'll use my Vibrams, at least until the sidewalks are clear, and save my zero drop running shoes for my long runs and race day when a wee bit of extra cushion is greatly appreciated.

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