Sunday, June 11, 2006

Pool Runner

I finally hit rock bottom on Saturday. My name is Eric, and I have a calf problem. After a great week of reduced mileage, running huge hills, and not having any pain or even tightness, I got back to the flats, threw down on a couple of ten milers, and the calf problem is worse than ever, with the exception that it is on the opposite leg now and in a totally different area.

I plunked down my $48 for a one-month membership at the YMCA this morning, and jumped (don't worry, I planted with my good leg) off the pool deck onto the pain train. I don't dislike pool running, but it's boring and the effort is harder. Based on the first workout, this is going to be a really positive thing. I can already feel my shins, hips, quads, and adductors are getting some much needed attention. I was able to keep the heart rate up in the high 130s to low 140s for the 45 minute workout, which is great. About half of the effort felt like a tempo run, and the ventilation pattern was similar to what I would get on a run at about 5:30 pace. The other half was warmup and cooldown.

Then it was on to the elliptical trainer for a 30 minute ass-kicking. The machine I was on didn't have quite the range I was looking for, so the strides felt cramped. After a few minutes I got used to it though, and did 3x8 minutes with a two minute recovery for a total of 30 minutes. I got the heart rate even higher (140s to 150s) on the elliptical, but it felt much more like a steady pace running effort. That really worked my glutes and lower back in a way that running rarely does.

Overall, the workout was really different and challenging. And in such a way that I can't wait to get through the next two weeks. Cross-training is a lot harder than running, both mentally and physically. My plan is to do pool running and/or elliptical exclusively for about ten days, then add the strength exercises recommended by the physical therapist for week two, then add about 20-30 miles of running in week three, followed by 50-60 miles in week four with some light plyometric exercises. Week five should be back to normal at 70-80 miles, but normal will now include regular strength training, plyometric drills, and strides. Obviously, the plan is subject to revision depending on how things go. I would say, though, that revisions would be toward being more conservative.

The toughest part started today: no running for ten days. I'm satisfied that the aerobic work I'm able to do in the pool and on machines will put me in better condition in a month than I am right now, so I'm not too bent out of shape about lost time. Part of me is still worried, but I will have 12 weeks to go when I am done with the rehab plan, and 12 weeks is still a lot to work with. It's funny that two months ago when this whole mess started, I was freaking out about missing a day or two of running. Now I'm making a matter-of-fact decision to stop running for almost two weeks! Strangely enough, I couldn't have done this back then. I believe it when people say you have to hit rock bottom to make the right decision.

I wish the YMCA didn't open so damn late, though. I can't believe 5:30 is the earliest these lazy yawners will open the place.

P.S. World Cup football kicks ass! I got to see the first goal of the Argentina - Ivory Coast match, but otherwise have been having a tough time seeing any games on tv. I remember the 1998 WC you could catch a match a day somewhere with just basic cable. My buddy Maddog and I watched an assload of soccer that summer while we were both underemployed. Good times.


Anonymous Fatboy

I feel your pain, man. I'm glad you don't mind the pool. You've got the right attitude - you should be able to maintain and even improve cardiovascular fitness. Since you're going to the YMCA anyway, it might be nice to do some high-rep strengthening exercises, particularly the calves and the muscles around your knees.

6/12/2006 10:52:00 AM  
Blogger Justin

I really feel your pain, dude...I've got a calf problem too and I'm also doing my first marathon this fall, though it's still 19 and a half weeks away. And I'm also doing my first ever aqua running session tomorrow, so we'll see if it's as boring as you think it is! Good luck with the injury though, hopefully it heals fast.

6/13/2006 11:53:00 PM  

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