you’re no spring chicken [aka an ode to compression]

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?

Totally awesome.

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.

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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:

  1. I can and will continue to improve my health and physical fitness.
  2. I should be cognizant that I am 47 years old, and still working on better conditioning. So I should respect some of my limits.
  3. If I don’t follow the guidance in #2, I should at least give myself some recovery time.
  4. If I don’t follow the guidance in #3, I should definitely wear compression sleeves while I punish my body.
  5. 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.


Get moving!

xoxo nancy

28 thoughts on “you’re no spring chicken [aka an ode to compression]

  1. Strewth…!

    Firstly, I hope you’re recovering, and now the niceties are out the way…

    Hey, we love “stupid like that” nothing like a bit of aggro to get a good training session in…

    But here’s the drill…You only need an age if you’re going to claim social security, for some reason they require it! But if you aren’t claiming it anytime soon, then don’t worry about how old you are…

    And I have to pose the question…”How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?”

    So give you’re body a “bitch-slap” back… 🙂

    • Recovery is well underway, thanks to the compression sleeves. I can’t actually take a day [or days] to ‘recover’, as that would mean missing a day of sweat. Not happening until after Jan 1, 2014. 😉
      Age can go take a hike.

  2. I completely agree with you about the calf compression sleeves! I’m actually wearing mine at work today under my work dress pants. Yesterday I tried a new workout called GRIT from Les Mills (the same people who do Body Pump) and it had a ton of plyometrics in it and this morning my calves were so tight and it burned to walk – the compression sleeves are definitely helping! 🙂

    • Thanks BB! Better is relative. I’ve pretty much grown used to moaning and groaning throughout my days, doing normal little things like rising from a seated position, extending for my seatbelt, etc. Everything aches all the time. 🙂 This is the joy of daily workouts.

  3. eeeeek for the calf pain! I have done the same thing on a regular basis (as I have mentioned!)
    I am really glad the calf sleeves helped! I love mine I wear them for all sorts of things including sometimes for work! they really help recovery!!

    I really hope you are ok!!

  4. Hey Nancy…I never pegged you as the sad-masochistic type! Remember, age is supposed to bring you wisdom! 🙂 I truly admire that you are staying disciplined and determined–but don’t forget that the messages your body sends you will just get louder if you don’t pay attention. Take care of that amazing and healthy body you have been given and hold off a bit on the punishment! ~Kathy

    • I know, Kathy…I know. 🙂
      The compression sleeves have worked miracles — and I’ve eased up on the running, which has helped. In retrospect, it was what I did Thurs, Fri and Sat that was really stupid. The Wed hike was awesome, but I *should* have given myself a lighter day on Thursday. Lesson learned.

  5. To me, it is natural to try to work through something. I would’ve done the same thing.
    And, MTM thinks compression socks are the greatest things ever……..until I call them his panty hose.
    Did you buy any of the property you saw?

    • Hence the reason the calf sleeves are so much cooler (especially for men); no panty hose comparisons.
      Nope, didn’t pull the trigger on any of the new builds. They’re very sleek and shiny but my heart wants a mid century modern closer to downtown. Love the character of the Rancho neighbourhood, despite its lack of shine.

  6. Yep totally been there! I am sure next time will be better…. or drink more that’s what I usually do when keep pushing it too hard. It doesn’t necessary help but it get you a little numb!

  7. Pingback: week 45 workout summary | my year of sweat!

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