Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Opposite of Training Tips

I can't be sure what your fitness life is like. One of the interesting and ponder-ful things about writing a blog is you never know who will read it or when. So, I suppose it's feasible that you, dear reader, are Kara Goucher-esque in your knowledge and skill set when it comes to running. And, it's just as likely that you don't even know who Kara Goucher is.

I kid myself and like to believe that my Words of Wiz Dumb reach wide swaths of humanity. Therefore I will try to include something that leaves each consumer with 1990s NBC Saturday Morning Kids Show Shooting Star Rainbow "The More You Knoooow" musical interlude in their head. The opposite tips I share here are for everyone because, as you will see, they are completely obvious and actually do NOTHING to fill your brain bucket. They simply serve to remind you that this writer is, as always, a big dumb dope.

Opposite Tip 1: Ignore grievances from your body

The most important opposite tip I can offer, and really the one that encompasses all of the tips I will share, is to ignore the signals you get from your body. Especially if those signals come from the general region where you have fairly recently had major surgery. Just because your right calf is chatting you up on every single run does not mean you should lower your mileage or stick to flat, even ground for a while. Obviously you should focus on your ultimate goal  - an October ultra marathon in my instance - and ignore the long game. You've got miles to cover, girl,

Okay, even I am not really that dumb. To be fair to me, I didn't actual ignore the pain. In fact, when my calf started hurting I stretched and strength trained and iced it like a Star Physical Therapy Student. What I DIDN'T do was cut my mileage or put good thought into my routes.

Opposite Tip 2: When on vacation on Cape Cod, run fast, then far, then far, then fast again.

So, my chatty right calf was being dealt with in the best way I knew how (cough) and then it was time to hit the road for vacation. For me, this was the first time all summer when I had a grown up to child advantage. My mother- and father-in-law were there, my husband was there, I was there. That would be FOUR, FOUR glorious grown ups to take care of just THREE, THREE darling-but-in-need-of-supervision boys. A person just can't pass up this kind of child coverage. She's gotta run.

First day there we arrived around 1:30PM. I unpacked while the others hit the pool. Then, I stole away for a quick 4-miler on the roads. Had to shake off that drive and, let's face it, use the time I had.

Second morning I was up at 4:30AM to get in at least 2 1/2 hours.  Not a bad plan, but I wanted to keep off the main road as much as possible. I had mapped out a route that the Interweb told me was 'partially unpaved'. Okay. I can do that. Well, partially unpaved meant lots of sand (Hello, Cape Cod is near the ocean. Have you heard about this?!?) so it was quite a work out for my lower body. And did I mention my right calf was being a little cranky? It was a slow, slog with lots of hills but I was well-hydrated and gu'd and ultimately, I felt very badass and good when it was over.

One bog among many.
Third morning I was smart and slept in and only did about 3 miles. JUST KIDDING. I got up at 4:30AM and basically did the same route as the day before. I was thinking of the ultra and knew I just had to get miles in. Get miles in. Get miles in. Again, when it was over I was pooped but felt pretty good overall. Oh, my right calf was being a little bit difficult but, whatever.

Obviously on the fourth morning I slept in and rested because doing 15 miles of trails 2 days in a row and then running again would be ridiculous. JUST KIDDING! On the fourth morning I realized that if I covered just SIX more miles I would have covered 40 miles in 4 days of vacation. It was a no brainer. I hit the road (and stuck to the road because even  big dumb dummy like me knows that sandy trail was probably not a 3-days-in-a-row scenario.) But I didn't feel like just going out and doing 3 out and back. I changed my Strava app to Kilometers, warmed up for a KM and then did 'fast' for KM, 'slow' for a KM. I chugged off a 10K by 6:30 AM.

Then we packed up and came home. I left the Cape feeling like Superwoman wrapped in Bionicwoman with the brain of that chick who plays Blossom on The Big Bang Theory. Freaking brilliant.

My Two Dads and the young Bette Midler in Beaches, too. 

Opposite Tip 3: ABC - Always Be Cocky

When we returned from Cape Cod, I did take a day off from running. I attended to Cranky Calf by doing some (more) PiYo (Have you done PiYo? It's SO good! So hard! So good!! Google it. Do a YouTube video of it. You will see what I mean...) On Tuesday I intended to take advantage of the fact that I was not back to school yet. I was going to get up at 4:30 and do a slow 90 minute run. My alarm (on my phone) was on MUTE: NOT helpful! So I got up a little before 6 and did 4 miles instead.

The NEXT day I had the alarm properly set because I had staff meetings to attend and I was determined to get on the road for my 90 minutes. I hit the road and had a leisurely jaunt to 'town' for 4.5 miles and then turned around to home. I was 2 miles from home, about 6AM, when something in my calf went "pip". I say 'pip'  because 'snap' would definitely be an overstatement and even 'pop' is too big a word for it. It was not a painful 'pip' - the closest equivalent I can think of is like what it would feel like for bubble to pop under your skin. Just after the 'pip', though, I couldn't run. Could. Not. Run. I could hobble. I could pull off walking without out a limp when cars drove by (can't have people asking me if I need help!) but this sucker HURT. I called Scott a couple (6) times. I knew I could make it home but it would take me a LOOONNNNGGGG time to get there. He saw my calls when he got out of the shower and came to rescue me.

Opposite Tip 4: PANIC!

I was not sure exactly what I had done to myself. I was pretty sure I hadn't blown my Achilles  because it was still functioning. (My understanding with a torn Achilles is that your foot just kind of flops when it ruptures.) I have to say that I am proud that I shed no tears (of frustration or otherwise) over this. It was more of a dope slap situation. And I kept defending myself to myself and others: "But I was so smart! I strength trained! I stretched! I iced!" What I didn't do, of course, was cut my mileage at all and instead just kept ramping it up.

Actual Tip: Call your Trusty PT Who Understands You

I was able to get an appointment with Kevin, my PT who is a runner/triathlete and thereby, despite my insanity, gets me. I was able to get in the next afternoon and come to find out, and I hope you are sitting down, I ran too far. More specifically, I ran too far on 'technical' (I love that term for trails that are made for tripping you) surfaces. He confirmed that, yes, my calf hurts. He said it was a grade 1 or 2 muscle strain. He said I should  not run for at least 2 weeks. He did 'ice and stim' and an ultrasound to get the blood flow going. He said I need to live in my compression socks (a tough one since I have just one pair... EEEEEWWW!) and ice it, foam roll it and stretch it (though not too far).

 So, now I am not running. And I am not thrilled. But I can hardly be surprised. This October Ultra is going to be even slower than I thought. But, merrily we roll along. I hope all of YOUR parts are functioning at full capacity. And remember: Don't Do What Phoebe Does.

Just cuz their cute. (I swear the one on the left has not been drinking.... he's mid-blink, not mid-drink!)

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