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.

Laboring through another humid run

Today’s run (street): 3.6 miles

It’s been years since Labor Day weekend signaled a return to classes for me, but ever since my kids reached school age the holiday invokes some anxiousness. My kids have had a great summer and they’re prepared for tomorrow. They’re excited to see their friends, but not for the sudden return to early mornings, long school days and evenings full of homework. This is the last weekend before we close the pool and that always makes me a little sad. But the kids have enjoyed every minute of the day.

September 1st is still summer and the humidity is abundant (94% today). I got out this morning and did a short, flat run around the neighborhood. After yesterday’s similar weather, I had no performance expectations on the run. I kept to shadier roads and appreciated the slight breeze that came from the north. Though still slow, I ended up running half a minute per mile faster than yesterday.

I’ve run every day since Friday, totaling almost 18 miles. No special venues or social running this weekend — I stayed local but mixed up my regular routes to keep it interesting. I’ll likely rest tomorrow and do a treadmill run on Wednesday. Tomorrow is just another work day, but I’m feeling the back to school vibe. I’m hoping everyone has a great day tomorrow.

No resting on this Labor Day

Hard core

Today’s  workout (core, upper body): 30 minutes

Happy Labor Day. It has always bothered me that this holiday serves as a gateway to the start of the new school year. After all, how can you enjoy the day knowing that your summer will end abruptly at 6:00 AM the next morning? It’s been a while since I’ve personally experienced that dread, but I still feel it for my kids. However, they seem to be just fine about it.

Grey skies and high humidity undercut the opportunity for outdoor fun most of the day, but we managed to get out for a while for some backyard fun. Monday is usually my rest day, but I felt the need for some additional activity. I pulled out my floor mat and my four year old issue of Runner’s World that has my favorite set of Lolo Jones core exercises. I followed that with some upper body work, along with a set of sit ups and push ups.

That may sound like a lot of work, but it really wasn’t too bad. Just like yesterday’s experience on the elliptical, I realized how long I’ve neglected core and upper body exercise. Does my departure from running over the last two days mean that my workouts will now involve more cross-training? Based on my history, I’m guessing no. But for now, it may provide some extra dimension in my Cow Harbor training.

A different kind of labor pain

Happy Labor Day. I’m ambivalent about this holiday because it represents the end of summer vacation for my kids and the end of my vacation week. On the plus side, we are edging closer to fall (my favorite season) when temperatures and humidity both drop. Running in cool fall weather, with the leaves underfoot and the ubiquitous scent of maple from the trees, is about as good as it gets.

I won’t be running today. I considered it earlier in the day, before I experienced a sudden tsunami of pain in my lower back while placing some glasses in the dishwasher. This pain came on alarmingly fast and it felt serious. I have not suffered lower back pain in decades and that problem was solved when I replaced my sleep sofa with a real bed.

These really work

My first reaction was to lie on my back while my daughter quickly brought over two ice packs and a towel to place under my lower spine. After ten minutes I was able to perform a couple of hamstring stretches that loosened me up enough to stand.  I walked to the kitchen and took two Aleve. After an hour the pain had dissipated enough to assure me that this was not going to be a major problem.

Suspect #4

I don’t know if was the 25% more running miles that I covered this week, backyard soccer played two days earlier or yesterday’s obstacle course, but my back had clearly had enough. I’ve also been using a Brookstone Fitness Stick that is probably putting strain on little used muscles in my lower back.

So no workout today, although I may do some core stretching later if my recovery continues. I think I’ll celebrate the rest of Labor Day by avoiding any further labor!