Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Learning as I go

I left for Shetland on Sunday, with my running gear optimistically packed in my bag.  I'd had a couple of satisfying pain-free jog/walks over the previous week and was looking forward to continuing my progress while away.  The flight was delayed by an hour and a half but I had fortuitously been booked into the Executive Lounge by my employer; several G&Ts and a bunch of mini-muffins later, the fact that I majorly twinged my calf as I tried to fold myself into the airplane seat didn't really distress me.  (It is perhaps worth pointing out that my twinge was solely related to the seat pitch & the contortions that it takes to fit someone of slightly above average height into a space meant for someone with really short legs, and had absolutely nothing to do with the G&Ts.)

A rearrangement of work commitments meant that I left work a bit early on Monday and got to the teeny tiny Lerwick gym well before the after-work crush.  Because I ran on Sunday before I left for the airport, I only used the elliptical trainer and the rower and then faffed about with the weights for another 30 minutes because I wasn't about to pay £6.00 to use the gym for only 40 minutes of cardio.  No pain during any of it.  Whew.

My legs were a bit tired on Tuesday - blame it on the leg extensions and leg curls - but I figured that a slow 1.5 mile jog/walk would be okay.  And it might have been, if I had been able to find anywhere flat and out of the wind.  I had completely forgotten that, no matter which direction you go in Shetland, you are going uphill and into the wind.  By the time I was five minutes and one hill into my run, my calf was aching each time my foot hit the ground.  The headwind meant that I struggled to use my new Chi technique; I felt off-balance, clumsy, and heavy.  I was pleased, though, that I listened to my body and walked as much as I needed to rather than pressing on through the calf ache.  And, after a couple of minutes of walking and then VERY SLOW jogging, the pain went away.  I walked up the rest of the inclines on my route, shuffled slowly on the downhills, and was glad when it was all over.

Not my legs; nice socks, though.
I don't think that any harm was done.  I wore my compression recovery socks that night, including to bed - yes, I aim for glamour at all times - and felt fine this morning.  Unfortunately, I twinged my calf AGAIN as I squeezed into the airplane seat for the journey home - it's a bendy, twisty movement that causes the problem - so there's a bit of a residual ache.  Hello again, compression socks!

So what have I learned?  My calf is better, but not better enough for hills (or even slight inclines).  I might be better off doing fewer leg weights on the day before a run.  Running into the wind is a bitch.  Twisting leg movements are a definite no-no.  I may not be doing proper Chi Running but whatever I am doing is different enough from my usual running style that, when I don't do it, I really notice the difference.  And compression socks rock.

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