Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Not as Easy as it Looks

I've signed on to run a marathon. Actually, I've signed on to run a half of a marathon. I am to run 13.1 miles in June. Don't forget the point one. I'm told that's important. We'll see. In the meantime, I'm finding out what training really is. Guess what? It's patience. Training is learning patience with myself; again. As if I haven't had enough challenges in my life to learn patience. Here we go again with that lesson.

I'm not a fast runner. I'm not an efficient runner. I did get fitted for some shoes specific to my running. I’m feeling very good about this. Since then though, I am finding that my calf muscles aren't as strong as I thought they would be. I am finding that these new shoes make my left leg feel all better, better than it has in years, while they make my right leg use muscles it never had to use before. I feel like I'm learning to how to run all over again.

What is it with my calves anyway? First one then the other decides to cramp up and just basically live that way for a week each in this low-grade constancy of discomfort. My calves love Tiger Balm. They soak this elixir in like oil for driftwood. They prefer pillows of Nexcare Ice Packs each evening. My calves fling themselves up over the arm of my favorite comfy chair and settle in to the dimple they create in the ice packs; exchanging their warmth and possible inflammation for the addictive non-drip of chemical coolness. I am too tired to take them to bed lately.

And so, I run so very, very slow. I am unable to stretch out these cramps so I run slow enough to keep moving, barely. I am sneaking in my training; hoping my calves can’t tell. So far, I’m getting pretty good at it. Yesterday I walked the stairs at work from the basement to the roof. Up was okay, not great, but I felt decently warmed up by the time I’d made it to the top. Coming down the stairs took twice as much time. Sneaking in a workout so your muscles aren’t sure what you are up to takes some serious time – and patience. It took my lunch hour. My calves were warmed up enough to go for training after work and they didn’t even know I’d snuck that one in. Today I walked the fifteen minutes to the bus stop rather than drive over to the bus park & ride. The walk took twenty minutes.

As I’m typing this I realize I have been brought right down to bottom. I wonder that I’ll be running any distance in any time soon. Knowing I am at this starting line, that I really have been brought to the very, very basics of “go slow”, well it nice to know there is no where to go from here but up.

Between massaging balms into my calves and pretending I’m not working out I am learning what to eat, and when and how much to drink - and that's just water. High carb foods actually make me feel better. I've never prescribed to Atkins, now is definitely not the time to start that one. I've never eaten and felt my body respond like this either, I don't think. In general, I've stayed on a relatively low carb diet. Not on purpose necessarily, just keeping a balance I suppose. Holy moly, that potato last night hit the spot. I’ve spent the morning on-line checking into dieting information for marathon trainees. There’s a plethora of it out there. I’ll never wade through it all (what a waste of time that would be). More pasta, more peanut butter, more nuts, more fruit. That’s what’s on my list. Other than more water. Drinking water helps the cramp in my calf as much as any aspirin.

Well, there’s my whiney self. I’m feeling a little defeated – better now than later. I’m feeling a little alone, I run by myself as the group is doing better right now than I. (Did I mention there are 100 people on my team?) As folks pass by me some actually use the time to slow down their own pace for a “resting” spot during the team run and chat with me before they get back to pace. I have met quite a few people. Alone is a relative term.

I’m hoping this challenge is here at the beginning and there will be a plateau of some sort here to feel good about. In the meantime, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”


  1. Better you than I! I admire your determination...

  2. Isn't potassium related to muscle cramps? Lack of, I mean. Bananas.
    Soon, your body will adapt. This program you are on is like boot camp. I think it is great. That kind of perseverance is an accomplishment.

  3. Sneaker camp is the younger brother of boot camp...

    When I first started biking after 30 years or so, I found I had two mucsles tucked up inside my thighs I didn't know existed :-)