My odometer mileage has been tapering as of late and I thought perhaps some of you would write to express concern (or interest) in what was going on. In fact, none of you have done so. Despite the apparent indifference from my readership, I shall take what remains of my over-inflated sense of self-worth and tell you what I’ve been up to.
I’ve been running.
I don’t like running and I never have. Over 25 years of military service, I ran a lot. I enjoyed almost none of it. I even ran a marathon once, though truth be told this was in response to a dare that directly challenged my manhood. Anything short of that and there would have been no way I would have done something as crazy as that.
Running is painful. With each step, three to four times the runner’s weight slams down on his/her foot in the form of pressure. Over the course of a mile, a runner will repeat this process 1,500 times. That’s a lot of pressure. A 150 pound runner will expose his feet to over 150 tons of pressure during a three-mile jog. I weigh considerably more than 150 pounds and (when I find myself engaged in the activity) I routinely jog more than three miles. With all that force going up and down my legs, it will be no surprise to you that I routinely experience lower leg injuries when I attempt a serious (i.e., more than 30 miles per week) running regimen. This is why I like cycling. One of the best things I can say about cycling is that it is not running. It’s a low impact cardio workout that actually lets you see something beyond the same few miles surrounding your house.
So why am I running? Glad you asked.
My wife runs.
To make matters worse, she is really good at it. She picked up the activity a couple of years ago and she can already put this retired Army officer to shame. This April, I thought it would be a neat idea if we signed up for the Army 10-Miler road race in October. My wife has never done an event like this and I thought it would be a great thing to do together. Although I understood that “doing it together” would require me to actually run, I didn’t dwell on that fact until about four weeks ago.
I was hopeful that my cycling workouts would carry over to running proficiency. To test that theory, I went for a four mile jog. Boy, was I wrong. Despite being able to cycle 100 miles, a moderate jog pushed me to the limit. My cardio was fine but the muscles and ligaments simply weren’t used to the effort (and pounding) required to run. I decided I needed to take some of my cycling time and dedicate it to running.
After a few jogs, my muscles and joints resigned themselves to the notion that they would once again be involved in this activity. I was making steady progress until Saturday, when I suffered an injury. I strained my calf. Imagine that, a lower leg injury.
It was just a tweak, nothing serious, but I refrained from running until Tuesday, when it felt almost normal. After 1.5 miles, I made the injury worse. I limped home at a humiliating 10 minute/mile pace and decided I needed more recovery time. Time is something I don’t have a lot of. The race is less than two months away.
As further proof that cycling and running use leg muscles in very different ways, I submit today’s bike ride into evidence. Despite having a calf injury that caused me to walk with a slight limp and made any serious jogging impossible, I was able to ride 30 miles on my bike and I set a new personal best pace for a ride of that distance.
To review, the injury made me unable to run but did not keep me from doing my best ever on the bike.
So that’s my running problem. Since this is a blog about cycling, I shall keep comments on this subject to a minimum. I thought the comparison between the two disciplines was interesting. And maybe, just maybe, somebody out there was wondering what was going on with my odometer!