Thursday, September 22, 2011
A week ago today, I strained my right soleus muscle. I might have had a lesser strain to the gastrocnemius, too; but I could really tell that the soleus hurt.
Today, for the first time since then, my calves felt symmetrical when I got up. After not having time to run Tuesday or Wednesday even if the calf had been healthy enough, this was a welcome change. I resolved to do some interval training this evening.
During the day, I could feel twinges in that right calf. But the twinges were in different places than where it had hurt before. I took that to be a good sign, that the injury had improved to where I could notice more minor stuff. Then after my lunch walk, some of those twinges were sharp. Very brief, but sharp.
So I thought about it. I've had a week off 5K training. The last training I completed was the Week 2, Day 2 program of walk 1, run 4 times 7. I crapped out in cycle for of Week 2, Day 3, which should have been walk 1, run 4 times 8. I *think* my calf feels good, but I don't know till I try. What is safe?
I resolved to limit the potential damage. I decided I'd stick with the walk 1, run 4 protocol, but put a distance limit on it, and not do any hills. Since the 5K that I'd mapped out for virtual races is pretty flat, that sounded good.
Got home after work. I should warm up, but I don't know what a good warmup for running feels like. What the heck, let's just walk around the "block." That's 0.86 or 0.89 miles, I forget which it measured out to be. Pleasant evening, internet says it's 75 degrees. Stop to admire some neighborhood cats, then pick up the pace on the last half. Linger a bit in my driveway so I can start on an even minute by my watch.
Cycle 1, I think I'm running a little slow. Turns out I get to the end of 4 minutes running right about where I did a week ago. After that, the route is different so I can't tell. Cycle 2, the calf feels no worse that when I walk. By cycle 4 I'm more concerned with my endurance than with the calf. Come to start the 4 minute run in cycle 5, and I'm close. I resolve to run all the way home even if it's over 4 minutes.
I ended up finishing the 5K (3.11 miles, as mapped out) in 24:57. I maybe could have gone another two cycles to replicate Week 2, Day 2; but let's stick to the protocol. I'd feel pretty stupid if I came up lame in cycle 6 or 7.
Do my walk to cool down, and I actually feel the uninjured left calf more than the right calf. Heh. Was mich nicht tötet, macht mich starker. Did my stretches. A week off has been good; my body doesn't feel as beat up as it did the last time I completed a training run.
Tomorrow I'll see how my calves are. Assuming everything feels normal, I'll try a full training protocol walk/run on Saturday.
Now I just need to figure out how to sqeeze in some time for strength training.
Monday, September 19, 2011
Today was a blood donation day. For the past couple of years, I've scheduled donations for Monday afternoons, and taken a half day off work. Today I took a full day. Slept in, and got up to find I weight 0.2 pounds more than yesterday. That still put's today's weight at the second lowest in over 20 years.
The original plan for my day off was to do my normal Monday 5K training in the morning, before the blood donation. After straining my right calf last Thursday, I hoped to get back to running by today.
That was not to be. The light testing paces told me I could run across an intersection if need be, but a sustained run would still not be a good idea. So I set off to walk the route that I had planned to run last Thursday. I got it most of it in, including the third little up/down hill I had added. I did chop off a short side trip around the local school's pick-up area. I realized before I got there that today is a school day, and school is in session. Let's leave well enough alone there.
Turned out that route, minus the school grounds, was 4.75 miles. I walked it in 68 minutes, for a 4.2 mph pace. The calf was noticeable, particularly on the hills, but not debilitating. I'm content with that much progress, for now.
I spent a little time thinking about weight loss, running, and blood donation. My sister tells me that she has been declined for blood donation at times due to a low runner's pulse. At times of extreme rest - sitting up in bed first thing in in the morning, sitting in a meeting for an hour - I've taken my pulse and got an answer below 50. While I don't trust myself to be accurate in taking my own pulse, I decided to walk to the blood donation appointment, about a half mile from home.
Read the material, and noted that "unexplained weight loss of 10 pounds or more in two months" was a reason not to donate. I'm down 13 pounds (rounded to the nearest pound) from my last donation 8 weeks ago.
It turned out that I got right in after reading the material. The nurse wasn't as talkative as some have been. She made no comment on the change in weight from last time. Pulse was 60. Blood pressure was 98 over 70, IIRC. I don't remember the last time I had a systolic pressure under 100. I take these results as an indication that the running program has done something for me, even if I'm currently on leave from it.
The donation was routine. The only noticeable difference from pre-Spark donations was that the nurse didn't mark my vein with a pen; she just eyeballed the needle in. I don't know if it's just this nurse, or if the weight loss has really made my veins that much easier to find. I was briefly light headed when I stood up, but I had considered that possibility after hearing my blood pressure. I dealt with it okay.
Walked home, and the pedometer read over 13K steps. My calf is feeling no worse than it did this morning, with a fairly normal number of non-running steps in the day.
Tomorrow it's back to the work routine, with evening commitments tomorrow and Wednesday. No sustained running till Thursday, no matter how well the calf is doing.
Next blood donation is in November. I hope to be able to run 30-40 minutes continually by then. We'll see how that affects the blood donation process.
Sunday, September 18, 2011
The bad news is, my right calf is still sore. A few tentative running steps were enough to convince me that I won't be running today. If the rate of improvement from yesterday to today continues to tomorrow, I won't be running tomorrow either. :(
So I'm looking for some good news. What is there?
This morning I weighed in at another 20+ year low weight. At 180.0, I'm 5 pounds from goal. Of course, that goal is slippery; it might go down after I get there.
Today is the first Sunday of wearing a suit after being in business casual for church all summer. Pulled out my thin suit, which I bought in 2005 when I was fluctuating between 188 and 190, the lowest I'd maintained since 1991. The pants were loose, but still wearable. I probably should shift down to a 34" belt.
That's kind of bad news. It means that if I lose another inch or two, I'll need to buy another suit. That would be annoying. Also scary; the last time I bought a suit at a low weight, I proceeded to put weight back on.
Oh, well. Leave the debacle of shopping for clothes till I have to. For now, I just moved my fat suits to the inaccessible side of the closet. If things go well, they can gather dust for a few years before I admit that I'm maintaining.
Today was warm and dry enough to mow the lawn. Mowing attire includes lineman's boots with high tops, steel toes, and steel shanks. I didn't feel the calf while mowing. I attribute this to a combination of support for the lower calf, restricted motion of the ankle, and short steps while mowing grass that grew more than it ought in a week this late in the season.
After mowing, I went for a walk to get my 10K steps in. Back in running shoes, I can feel the calf again; but it doesn't hobble me. Walked not quite 5K, and it timed out to a hair faster than a 4mph pace. Parts of the walk felt pretty good, but by the end I could tell it was time to wind down.
I may hit 12K steps puttering around the house this evening. Didn't even hit 11K yesterday, so I suppose that's a measure of the calf getting better. But dang, this is slow.
One day at a time. I took tomorrow off work, originally planning to do the 5K training in the morning before donating blood in the afternoon. That might turn into a morning walk before donating blood; if so, the next time I will have time to attempt running would be Thursday. That's a full week of rest for the bum calf. You'd think a week should be enough, wouldn't you?
Patience. I'm dealing with this a little better today than yesterday, but there is still room for improvement in the patience department.
Saturday, September 17, 2011
My first 9 weeks on SparkPeople went very well. I learned to use the food tracker, I learned to use the stupid motivational tricks to get me to exercise more consistently, and I even started training to turn myself into a runner. I dropped more weight than I would have imagined practical in that much time. I changed the way I eat.
It's not hard to understand why those 9 weeks went so well. I'm a single person household. It was summer, and I had no fixed social commitments. I control the groceries I buy and whether I go out to eat. It was the ideal situation for implementing a diet and exercise plan.
The 10th week has been more challenging. Fall social commitments started up. That squeezes the serious exercise out of two days a week, though I can still get 10K steps in. I made a plan for dealing with the time crunch, opting to keep the running training and cut back on strength training.
Man plans, and God laughs.
Thursday I strained a calf muscle. Based on the way it acted on Friday, the major strain is to my right soleus. That's the muscle that activates when you flex your ankle with your knee bent. The gastrocnemius seems to have minimal or no damage; a tentative test yesterday seemed to indicate I could have done standing calf raises without a problem.
There's a lot of things I can't do easily with a sore soleus. Tentative motion tests Friday morning without external weights ruled out squats, Romanian deadlifts, traditional deadlifts, and lunges. That pretty much meant no lower body strength training. TGUs were out. Even kettlebell swings seemed to bother it a little. I didn't even test for military press or barbell clean and press.
Friday was a very frustrating day. I felt like I should be MOVING! But it hurt to walk any sustained distance. I learned to climb stairs flat footed, because that didn't hurt like a normal motion on my toes did. I cut my lunch walk short, because I couldn't handle those long walks. I got my 10K steps in by taking them in short stretches. 800 steps to shop at Sam's Club. 900 steps to shop at Walmart. Between 120 and 150 steps from my office to the restroom and back at work. Ended up walking less than a mile in the evening to fill out the step count, at a wimpy 3.2 mph pace. I had visions of totally falling off the wagon, with everything coming apart because I couldn't do anything major.
Today was better. The soleus is still sore. Running is out, but I got my TGU/Windmill combos and KB snatches in this morning. Daughter rescheduled breakfast at McD for lunch at Taco Bell, and I walked a bit over 4 miles starting when breakfast would have been. The 4 miles was shorter than the original aspiration, but at least I was smart enough to have a twisty route with opportunities to bail on distance. I was surprised to map that out to a 4.0 mph pace; I thought I was holding back more than that, particularly early on.
Taco Bell is easier to work around the McD, but it's still something to work around. At this point, I have 630-980 calories left for the day . . . and a social eating dinner to attend. I'll have to estimate what I eat when there, and that's a bit of a challenge. I've done very well eating dinner at home with one eye on the food tracker as I decide what foods to add to the meal.
This dinner shouldn't be too bad. I expect buffet style, mostly home prepared and simple. There should be some good choices availbale. At the end of September, I have a restaurant-based buffet dinner to attend; that will be a real challenge.
When I write it all out like this, it doesn't look so bad. But emotionally, it's scarey to be on limited exercise at the same time as having food challenges. Yeah, that's silly; the leg should be all better well before the late September dinner. Maybe I'll be able to run tomorrow, maybe not till Monday; but there will be progress. The progress just isn't as steady as I'd like it to be.
Ah, well. The classic prayer would seem to apply: "Lord, give me patience. And give it to me RIGHT NOW!!!"
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Autumn weather arrived today. The morning temp was in the low 50s, with light rain. Got up early, got to work, walked about 3/4 mile to the mandatory meeting and arrived right when the bus I could have boarded did. Walked back to work, and tried to get a day's work done in 5 hours. Took a break for a lunch walk, and hit my 10K steps by 1 PM.
Maybe that should have been a warning.
After work, came home with the plan to do Week 2, Day 3 of the 5K My Way running program. Had a slice of whole wheat toast and some water. Put on my new exercise slacks and a tee shirt. Poke my head out into the now 57 degree weather, and decide I can do without a jacket. Set off for the routine of walk 1 minute, run 4 minutes for 8 cycles.
Cycle 1, I look at my watch when I've been running 4:02. Good. Cycle 2, I begin to feel a twinge in my right calf. It's not bad. I've walked with stuff like this many times.
Maybe that should have been a warning.
Cycle 2, I looked at my watch when I'd been running 4:07. I'm feeling pretty good. Add another loop to the route, with another up and down hill, because it's 5 minutes longer than last time.
Cycle 3, getting into it. It's feeling like training, and this is familiar. The calf is manageable.
Cycle 4, 1 minute into the run the calf cramps up and I can't run. I'm about as far from home as this winding route will take me. Surely no more than a mile?
Walk a few paces further along the route, hoping it's temporary and I'll be able to continue. It isn't. By the time I realize the shortest way home would have been to walk back down the hill that I cramped at the top of, I'm partway down the hill the other direction. I can't walk as briskly as I normally would, because of the calf.
At this point, I'm very glad to have the long exercise pants. When the breeze blows, I'm not so glad of my decision to forego a jacket. Sitting still doesn't seem like a good option, and even if I call my daughter it would take her a half hour to come get me. So I soldier on. Later, I'm able to walk at a more normal pace but still can't run.
Turns out my walk home was 1.35 miles. At this point I'm glad to get back int he warm house, and stretching just doesn't happen. Get supper, shower, and log my food and exercise.
My pedometer reads 18,601 steps. That's the most I've had in a single day since I started wearing it in mid-July.
So now I contemplate, what did I do wrong? Perhaps I wasn't as hydrated as I should have been. Perhaps I did too much walking during the day for running in the evening. Perhaps I did nothing wrong, and something like this was going to happen anyway.
We'll see how the calf feels tomorrow, which ought to be a weight lifting day. I'm hoping that by Saturday I can make another attempt at Week 2, Day 3 running.
In the past, feeling like this would have convinced me that either I'm not a runner, or I don't know how to train. I'm not convinced this time. I think I can overcome this. The question is, how long do I need to rest that calf before I hit it again? The more important question is, now that I've been through this will I be smart enough to quit running sooner if the same thing happens again?
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