Pulling My Leg

My calf felt fine. Really, it did. No worries at all.

So, since I didn’t have to go to work Monday, why not spend an hour on the track?

I can tell you why not. Because I’ve got a muscle pull, that’s why not.

I was hoping that the pull I felt last week was due to the steep angle of the very short track at the Monroe YMCA, where I was running. So, I decided to go to the Metrocenter branch to do my running yesterday morning. The track there is much longer. Well, longer. 11 laps to the mile as opposed to 32. It’s a lot flatter, although it still has the banked turns.

So, after about 10 minutes of stretching, I did the first lap at a walk. It really is difficult to walk with my running leg, but not impossible. Imagine walking around with a 1″ thick block of balsa wood on the bottom of one shoe. There’s no real weight difference, only height.  And I keep on stubbing what would be considered my toe as I bring the leg forward. But other than that, everything felt fine, so I bumped it up to a trot. I did two laps, and then dropped back down into a brisk walk again, only partially because I was tired. I felt like I could keep going at that pace, but didn’t want to hurt myself. I didn’t want my calf to hurt again like it did last Wednesday.

Another walking lap, and I started to trot again. Everything felt stable. I was really paying attention to how my body was reacting to the running, and it was going fine. Better than fine. I felt ready to pick up the pace some more. So after one lap of trotting, I ran.

It felt good. It felt really, really good.

I was moving faster than everyone else on the track. Granted, everyone else on the track was in their fifties and sixties, but hell, so am I. I keep forgetting that. Seriously, I do.

I ran two more laps that way. They were easy laps. I knew I could keep going. In fact, I knew I could give it some more. I wanted to give it some more. That’s a relatively new feeling, and I wanted to encourage it. My legs felt good. I could feel the muscles stretching out, and I let them go. I picked up the pace, and let my legs stretch out some more, and started another lap.

I made it through three-quarters of the lap. Then my calf said “No, you don’t.”

I slowed down and got off the track, and just like last Wednesday, I tried to stretch it out. It’s just a cramp, I kept telling myself. It will be fine. I can work through it. After a few minutes, I got back on the track and walked a lap. Then ran a couple of laps.

Just like last Wednesday.

I did that ‘walk one/run two’ routine for the rest of the hour, never approaching anything like a full stride. My calf hurt, but I could deal with it. It was more of a dull, throbbing pain, as opposed to the sharp stabby kind that I first felt.

After the hour was up, I got off the track, did some more stretching exercises, and walked to the stairs. Then I walked past the stairs to the elevator (I was on the third floor) because my leg was hurting a bit.  By the time I got to the locker room, my calf was throbbing. By the time I got to the car, it was almost too painful to walk.

Just like last Wednesday.

A popular quote right now (at least, amongst the folks I tend to hang around) is “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”* Guess that makes me insane, because the same thing happened afterwards yesterday as happened last Wednesday: I limped through the day.

So, as best as I can, I’m doing the RICE thing (rest, ice, compression, elevation), and it’s feeling better. But I’m not going to be doing any more running soon. I’ve got some riding classes I go to, and they don’t seem to bother it, and also, I’ll be starting my swimming next Monday, so I’ll still be able to get training in.

A not-so-popular quote right now (at least, amongst everyone who’s currently alive) is “There is either growth, or there is decay. There is no status quo.”**  I guess I’m growing, because as I think back on this, I’ve come away from it with three realizations:

1. Do you have any idea of how weird it is for me to do push past an injury to continue something difficult? That’s not me. At least, it’s not the old me.

2. Do you have any idea of how weird it is for me to not berate myself for trying to run too soon after an injury? I’m choosing to view it as an earnest eagerness. Or an eager earnestness. I want to do this. I want to so much I’m too eager.  Yeah–earnest eagerness.

3. I have a freakin’  huge calf. I found this out when I started wrapping it. It’s like 21” around in some places. I mean, it doesn’t look all that big sitting there on my leg, but it’s got some girth.

I know the third one isn’t as deep or revealing as the other two, but it doesn’t make it any less true.


*A quote that’s been attributed to Albert Einstein, Mark Twain, Ben Franklin, and a Confucius. None of them said it, or at least wrote it down. Its earliest appearance in printed English language is in Rita Mae Brown’s Sudden Death. I guess some people think it holds more weight as a quote coming from acerbic long-dead man than if it comes from a relatively modern semiautobiographical novel about lesbian tennis players.

**A quote that’s been attributed to me. Cuz I said it.

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