Unfortunately, today was another difficult day for running. This time I was able to keep my head above water at least, so to speak.
My trip to the gym began with a big wipe-out in front of the gym. (Huh? There's a curb there?! ...) I had changed before I went, so this meant that I managed to stain my gym shorts with the blood from my skinned knee. Fortunately, I was able to keep this incident from affecting my run in any way whatsoever. I just felt that I needed to share it with you. Why?... I'm a sucker for punishment?
Unfortunately the fact that I hadn't slept well the night before... or ate much fruit/vegetables... or drank much water... well, none of these were quite so easy to sluff off. It felt like I was trying to run through quicksand. We were on the treadmill again, which I have learned is part of the problem, because I do not keep my natural pace that way. I had to stop more than once. The first time was just before the 2 mile mark - I merely stopped for a second, two at most, to give my calves a quick stretch. I switched from my run (5.2mph) to a walking speed (4.0mph) again later... I want to say that it was at about the 2.4 mile mark, but to be honest I'm not sure. Then, around the 2.8 mile mark my right calf seized on me.
The experience of having my calf seize on me is a difficult sensation to describe. The best I can tell you is that it felt like my calf tied itself in a knot, then twisted itself upside down. I almost fell off the treadmill when it happened - I barely caught myself on the edge. I must have yelped or something too, because right away Lisa was asking me what the matter was.
I was able to walk it off... slowly at first, (3mph) and then my regular walking speed (4mph) to get me to the rest of the 3 miles. That gave us 10 minutes before Zumba class started.
What calorie burn I lost in my run, let me tell you I made up in Zumba! It was a different instructor again, and it was a very fast paced class. Most of the dances concentrated around hops and small steps on half beats, so I'm sure the class looked like (sexy?) rabbits on speed. I was shocked - I sweated more in this class than I did the first time I ever took Zumba.
After class, Lisa and I spent some time trying to figure out what is going on with my running, and more importantly, my calves. I had already spent some time staring at my legs while running on other occasions (I know, bad form, but I was trying to figure out what was going on - it isn't like I always run like that). From this, I was able to figure out that while most people land on their heel and roll through their step, I was slamming my foot directly down underneath me, and thus jarring my calves with every step. No wonder they were giving me so much grief.
Lisa explained to me that instead of using my upper leg (thighs? Hamstrings? I'm not sure what part to reference), to propel me forward and then follow through with my calf, I was basically dragging my foot forward the bare minimum using only the bottom half of my leg. In other words, my (thighs?) were doing nothing and my hamstrings all the work. We spent some time with her demonstrating and me mimicking - I think I've got the hang of it, but it will be like learning how to run all over again. I always thought that running was something that you just do. Like walking, but faster. I guess I was wrong! Running this way uses a whole new set of muscles, not just in my legs, but another set in my stomach, back, and it uses my arms and obliques as tools rather than 'carry-alongs' as well. My next run will be on the treadmill again (2mi) so I won't be able to tell much if it is helping, but Friday should say a lot.
Hopefully it won't quite feel like I'm starting completely over.