Cow-leg running science explained

Leg stomach-ache

Today’s run (street): 3.8 miles

Happy Labor Day. It’s always nice to have a three day weekend, although I keep thinking today is Sunday. It sure felt like a Sunday when I went out this morning, and I appreciated the car-free roads. I almost skipped my run in favor an elliptical session, but my wife encouraged me to get outside and I listened to her. I’m glad I did.

The reason I’d considered forgoing my run was because I woke up with an acute pain in my right calf. According to Dr. Google, this pain was emanating from the Medial Gastrocnemius. I always thought gastro meant stomach, but apparently there’s also a gastro in our leg muscles. It sort of makes sense because cows have multiple stomachs and they also have calves. Science is very logical.

I was a little concerned that the calf pain resulted from wearing my new Kinvaras that are lower and flatter than the Triumphs. I’ve never had trouble transitioning to zero and near-zero drop running shoes, but I was concerned that they might be the culprit. I decided to keep it under four miles today, and if the pain got worse, I’d work them in with even shorter distances.

My first steps off my driveway were pain-free and that was the case throughout the entire run. I continue to like the feel of the shoe. Compared to both the original and the K3, the K5 is equally comfortable. But the K5s are more responsive and have a smoother toe-off.

Hours after the run, my calf feels fine. I don’t know what caused this morning’s soreness, but at least I know it wasn’t the shoes.

Soreness is gone, so back to the road


Today’s run (street): 3.3 miles

It’s fall and today’s weather acted appropriately, with sun, minimal humidity and cool air. I went out early and the temperature on my phone app said 50°. I wore my vividly orange long sleeve running shirt with shorts and was very comfortable throughout the run. Conditions make all the difference.

Today was my first run since Cow Harbor. The race and Sunday’s lift-and-carry workout put my legs into tough shape and I carried that soreness all day on Monday. I’d worn my Zensah compression calf sleeves on the prior two days, in hopes of reducing the level of lactic acid that was making my leg muscles feel stiff and uncomfortable. Last night, as I headed upstairs, I noted that my legs were still very much in need of recovery time.

When I took my first few steps onto the road today, I was pleased to note that my stride felt good. Not perfect, but certainly better than I’d expected. I must have benefited from a good night’s sleep. I didn’t push hard but I made sure that I kept my pace within the acceptable range (and faster than my Cow Harbor pace). As I progressed, I noticed more muscle stiffness, but that didn’t slow me down much.

I ended up happy with the run and appreciated returning home without feeling like I was drenched in sweat. If the temperature and humidity remain low, I hope to bring my intensity up a notch and take advantage of higher performance relative to heart rate. I know I need to increase my cadence if I’m going to make improvements in my pacing. I wish I knew the best approach for doing that.

The dreaded Day 2

Aleve and compression are good for the sole(us)

I should have known that Sunday’s hard running would eventually catch up with me. Usually I’m fine the day after a vigorous workout but then I pay for it on the second day. I’d fooled myself into thinking that running in the Hattori’s had sufficiently built up my gastrocnemius and soleus muscles but by early evening my calves were screaming. Perhaps bleating would be a better word. Yesterday’s semi-tough trail run probably contributed to that as well.

I took an Aleve before heading up to bed and wore my Zensah compression sleeves overnight. I had previously verified that it was okay to do that. This morning my lower legs still felt like they were fused to my ankles and making my way down the stairs required a tight hold of the banister. After an hour my muscles had loosened up. They were feeling far better by the time I made my train.

I’ve got a couple of errands to run around lunch today so I’ll have a chance to shake out the residual stiffness as I cover the streets of the city. I’m really hoping that things return to normal in time for my morning run.