I’m starting to feel a bit guilty, but sometimes you gotta practice what you preach. I’ve been on the injured list. And this calf thing, whatever it was –strain, tear, pull– has taken longer than expected to heal up. As of today, a week after the injury and ten days since I’ve been out running, I feel pretty good. I’d call it 99%. I’d call it not hurting unless I think about it and twist my way into certain pose to make it hurt. I’m going to try a short run tomorrow after one more night of rest, but I’m starting to grow restless.
Apparently, as much as I figured I could sprint up and down twenty-seven flights of stairs –and despite winning the fastest time for the feat– my calves (as much trouble as I’ve been having with them this year) were not on board for the gig. I’ve had two days of debilitating pain following Thursday’s effort, and after stretching, rolling, pills, and creams –well– I’m still limping around the house like a guy twice my age… and that’s starting really say something. Working on some recovery for my run tomorrow, but as of right now I’ll be lucky to make it down the stairs without limping, let alone a ten klick run. *sigh*
I was feeling pretty good at about 7:30 Sunday morning when I was standing at back of my parked truck contemplating the planned 20 klick run with the gang. I’d had some tightness in my calf a couple days previous –lingering pains from last week’s sciatic flare-ups, I assumed– but all felt good in the cool perfect-run-weather morning as we set off. Some light trails, some short climbs, and we plodded along chatting and keeping a reasonable pace that wouldn’t have set any records but was feeling strong and steady. At ten klicks I would have told you I could have run a marathon. At eleven, breaching the top of a short hill I was pondering the pulling feeling in my calves. At eleven and a half, that same calf had cramped up like a rubber band in a blender, and even the standing-still weight was borderline unbearable. At the furthest point and turnaround of our run I waved my crew off and called for a pickup, riding home in the passenger seat feeling sapped and sorry for myself… and pondering another few days off. Damn.
Despite suggesting I was going to only do short distances until I felt fully recovered, the ninth run –last night– in my daily running series was a 10k with Jenn and Stacey. Some aches and pains, and some minor tweaking and questionable nigglings from the calf region at about the six through eight klick mark, but (a) stretching at walk breaks and (b) adding a bit of a heel-to-toe foot roll to my gait for a few fifty meter stretches worked out most of the issues. This morning: feeling fine and looking forward to run number 10 tonight.
Another pain-and-recovery update: Yesterday sucked. Yesterday every movement of my legs, anything at all that put stress or strain on my calves, felt like a delicate balancing act of ache and that urge-to-stretch-it-out and the feeling that they were one-second-from-going-nuclear and right back into a full-on cramp. The last thing I wanted was to be rolled and broken, crushed to the floor of the mall as I was walking to the LRT, or trying to get some lunch from the food court, so I hobbled slowly, stairs the most painful of all, but made it through the day with just a few bruises on my pride. I spent the entire evening doing careful and slow stretches, sitting on the floor on in front of the television to distract myself, icing and then kneading each of my lower legs with a little massage ball. Resting. Elevating. Massaging some more, all before crawling into bed early and hoping that I wouldn’t be woken in the middle of the night with explosions of cramping pain. This morning things are improving. My legs still hurt, but they now feel like they are stiff and sore, in need of a really good stretch or massage, and I don’t have that ready-to-implode feeling (not as much) anymore. I’m thinking I’m going to need a few more days sans running, but with work I could be back in action by the weekend.
So, the story of my ninth half marathon isn’t as awesome as I would have hoped this time yesterday. Cruising along and on track for a PR –yeah, really– my calves started to ache around the 18k mark. I slowed, and resigned myself to a good-but-not-great time. I’d swung around the corner at the 20(ish) klick mark, the hints of the finish line visible up ahead further down Jasper Avenue, and –BAM– like being shot in the back of both legs within seconds of each other. Worst. Leg Cramps. Ever. I actually rolled, fell down, was laying down in the middle of the road in charlie-horse-pain-hell, waving off a dozen or so of my fellow runners who were trying to help as I tried not to pass out from the pain. A cop came over, helped me to the curb, gave me some water, and offered to call a medic. But I opted to hobble it in, instead, every step painful for the last kilometer, and ultimately added an extra fifteen minutes to my time because of the injury… all within sight of the end. This morning, my calves are crazy sore, and not happy about anything that involves their participation. Getting to and from work is going to be fun.