A guest post by my husband Tom, who is running his first 10k on May 30th!
Imagine the sight, if you will, of a six foot, skinny, half-exhausted-from-sitting-behind-a-desk-all-day, blu-ray addicted, 30 year old male as he struggled, blinded and dazed up the steep steps to the street. His right knee was a mangled mess of swollen muscle and his left shin reduced to something that Gregory House would be happy to live with. This was me at 6:30 this evening as I reached street level in my 'Big Lebowski' shirt and with my stick-like legs dangling out of the my Adidas (can I have my product placement money now please?) shorts.
I am telling you this long piece of descriptive info as I have (as some of my fans, followers and scary stalkers will know) been for three runs on my own the last week. In summary this is kinda how it went:
Sunday: A short run to the park and back. By the time I got home I thought my heart and lungs were literally trying to teach me a lesson by leaping out of my mouth (via my throat) and heading to the local betting shop. I was being punished for trying too much too soon. I had tried to be a smart-ass by running fast. I am Man. Watch me run. Watch me collapse in the street and get caught up in a street cleaner more like...
Monday: Decided to take my time this time (too many uses of the word 'time' there but I've typed it now and I'm not going back to change it for you or anyone) and managed to run to the park and do half a lap before pain in my chest and back started again. I walked for a few minutes and then ran to the exit of the park and then walked again. To say it was a crap run was an understatement, but my body was still functioning at a vertical level, so I was happy. The next day my legs hurt so I decided to spend two days watching movies with excessive violence in them.
Thursday: Ran to Battersea Park, did a lap without stopping and ran home. OK, I might have walked a bit on the way home, but otherwise I did about 5.5km. I was very happy and aside from being asked by a passer-by if I was OK (or about to expire) I felt amazing. Celebrated by watching a film containing excessive amounts of violence.
Saturday: Got up early in the mood for a damn good run. Forgot to wake up first and also didn't realise that I had a stinking hangover from hell until halfway round the park. Had to stop and walk for a few seconds. Got home feeling angry and disappointed with myself and felt like setting fire to the street, but instead cleaned the flat (something I do when I'm angry). Legs really hurt...again realised that I'd obviously run too fast and pushed myself without properly fuelling.
I spent the next few days feeling very low and negative (yes, even amazing people like me can get negative!) about running and the race next week. The pain in my legs got worse and by Monday I was having trouble walking and even running to dodge speeding cars (why do they go through red lights and WHY does no one catch them?!) was causing enough pain for concern.
Wednesday (today): Legs in a lot of pain. Hurt to walk home from train station. Felt very miserable but got my gear on anyway and beautiful Phil came with me. Despite my legs hurting, the warm up was good and we ran steadily to the park. No problems so far and my chest wasn't hurting, which was good. We did a lap of the park and I was still feeling good. My lower legs were still sore but my thighs were taking the brunt of the punishment and so I was able to power through it. On reaching the exit to the park (a full lap) we took a break and did some squats. I found that doing the squats removed the pain in my legs almost completely and to my surprise was able to run ALL the way home! This is something I was aiming for last week and had failed until tonight. So, excluding squats we ran 6.7km tonight. My best yet, so I was really chuffed!
All I wanted to do when I got in was collapse and sleep, but Phil got me doing stretches and I ended up feeling much brighter and in a lot less pain. Over an episode of House and a Lucozade I reflected on why tonight's run had been such a success even with the pain in my legs. I reckon it was because I had simply made a rookie mistake: I was trying to do too much too soon. My last few solo runs had been with music, most of which had a relatively fast beat and encouraged me to run faster. I've got long legs so running faster is more comfortable. That said, running faster might be good for my legs but I now realise that it's not good for my heart and lungs.
Tonight Phil showed me the balance between speed and endurance. Everyone is different and despite my long legs and their strength I clearly need to give my heart time to catch up. This is something that I never even thought about, and why would I? I've spent the last thirty years either in front of a computer, a TV or in bed! Sad really, but true.
I am quietly interested in going for another run tomorrow evening (Thursday) to see if adopting the same practice will yield the same results. My legs, at the time of writing this, are sore but in far less pain, which suggests that the pain comes from lack of use. I was/am certainly not 'out of shape' but I am clearly not as 'in shape' as I thought myself to be.
More on this exciting story when more details become available.
Next: Australian woman living in London loses husband when he slips between crack in pavement due to weight loss from running.