The hike at Mary Jane Falls last week had a pretty profound impact on my psyche. I showed myself what I’m capable of. Which turned out to be more than I thought I was capable of.
My body is growing stronger and more fit even as it continues to age. How awesome is that?
Until it’s not.
Last week, my body grabbed me by the shoulders and shouted, “Hey you, dumb-ass, you’re not 25. Smarten up!” And then it bitch-slapped me across the face. Hard. Just to make sure I had heard its warning.
I woke up Thursday with calves that were as tight as drums. Ah, they’re just tight from that crazy hike yesterday. I’ll just walk it off. They’ll loosen up soon. This is what I told myself.
As I shared in Monday’s Weekly Workout Summary, I decided to head over to an outdoor sports field to run the track. My plan was to run 5k around the track as final preparation for a planned 5k event, Color Me Rad, on Saturday.
I had been training for this event, and was totally stoked to check another item off my fitness ‘to-do’ list. Doing a fun 5k (one where volunteers douse you with coloured cornstarch) seemed just the ticket for me: a 5k without the pressure of a serious competitive race.
I walked for a couple of minutes to warm up, noticing that my left calf felt particularly tight, but dismissing it as something that would work itself out as I moved some more.
And I began my run.
RunKeeper was tracking my progress, and alerting me to the fact that I was running at my fastest pace yet. Just as the voice of RunKeeper told me that I had hit the 15 minute mark, my left foot met the asphalt and I cried out in pain.
My calf felt as though it had exploded. I jogged it out for another 8-10 steps, and then hobbled the rest of the way around the track, defeated.
I was sad that I couldn’t finish a really good run, but more than that, I was pissed that I knew I wouldn’t be able to run the 5k event two days later.
Dejected, I bitched and complained as I stretched calves, quads and hamstrings, and then started the parcourse.
Maybe it was the knowledge that I couldn’t do the 5k on Saturday, or maybe I’m just an idiot, but I threw everything I had at the exercises of the parcourse. I jumped sideways over low bars. I jumped straight up to smack my hand against a high bar. I did 3 different styles of push-ups. I hung from a chin-ups bar. And I made it across three rungs of the monkey bars.
When I got back to the condo, I decided to hit the treadmill at the gym because I didn’t feel that my 15 minute run qualified as enough cardio. Even though my calf was still screaming at me.
I’m stupid like that.
45 minutes [of fast walking at a 5% incline] later, my legs could barely walk me back to the condo.
On Friday I aggravated it some more.
And then on Saturday I decided to do a hike, one that featured a trail covered in loose rocks, the kind of slippery bastards that force you to brace your core and mind your ankles, lest you roll them, all while climbing at an unending incline. I motored it, passing several hikers along the way, and leaving a spray of moving rocks in my wake.
This was me punishing my body for preventing me from doing the fun 5k that day.
Well played, Nancy. Well played. [insert sarcasm here]
I tweaked my right knee on that hike. Which was a nice diversion from the pain in my left calf. But not really.
Stairs became torture devices.
Tears sprang to my eyes whenever I climbed or descended a staircase. And the only way into my condo is via a big long staircase.
Then Mr. Enthusiasm decided we should go look at some new housing developments. Many of them were 3-stories with roof-top patios. Uh-huh. I’ll let you do the math on how many stairs were involved.
By Sunday it hurt to stand. To sit. To just be.
And then I remembered reading about other runners with calf issues – and how compression socks had really helped them.
I found these at a local running shop, opting for calf sleeves instead of full socks. Because, frankly, I think they look more bad-ass. Thankfully I didn’t have to sacrifice function for form this time. They look cool and they work. Bless them…they really work!
I put those bad boys on Sunday evening, wore them around the house, and then even to bed. By Monday morning, my calves had loosened to the point that I felt safe enough to try a run. I ran with the sleeves on – and they still felt great. I may never take these puppies off.
So, lessons learned:
- I can and will continue to improve my health and physical fitness.
- I should be cognizant that I am 47 years old, and still working on better conditioning. So I should respect some of my limits.
- If I don’t follow the guidance in #2, I should at least give myself some recovery time.
- If I don’t follow the guidance in #3, I should definitely wear compression sleeves while I punish my body.
- And if I don’t do #2, 3 or 4, I should expect the bitch-slap that my body is so clearly capable of delivering to me.