Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Trouble a Brewing; Calves a Sucking

Last night I went out for a what was supposed to be a short and easy five to eight kilometre jaunt to test my calves, in particular my left one. Being on very strong antibiotics (think Scorched Earth approach) and following a week where I slept very little and ate almost nothing I suppose this is not unexpected. However, it has me very concerned about my ability to complete the Around the Bay 30k this coming Sunday. The "test" just ups the stress.

I felt great at first and just kept things slow and easy. Then, right about the 2.2k mark, the left calf seized up. How the Hell am I supposed to finish 30k when my calf seizes up at a measly 2k?! I stopped and stretched and proceeded to jog slowly back home for a very unsatisfying 5km.

But I suppose I should be happy. I can no longer remember how hard it once was to run five kilometres. Articles like this one should remind me that I should just be happy to be running at all.

I have to get off these antibiotics so that my body can absorb nutrients.

I have to be happy with just being able to run, period.

I have to go back to low heart rate running since speed (and I use that term very loosely) does not agree with my wonky appendages.

And now I have to do some work...

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Blogger Nelly said...

That is a bummer about your calf muscle. It is kind of confusing why it happens, I never seem to get calf pain. Do you stretch them out before and after you run? I always do the calf stretch on a curb, which really helps that I that. I can't think of anything else, except that maybe you're overexerting your calves somehow with too much weighlifting?

I've only strained my calf muscle once - and it was after I ran a half marathon and then played soccer on the same day, just too much activity for the calf muscle to take.

Also, regarding your knee and leg workouts, what workouts do you recommend for strengthening the knee and IT band? On your last post to me, you mentioned the following:
squats, lunges, leg extensions, deadlifts, adductors, abductors, hamstring curls, etc
(I do some of these now, but I probably need to do more of them, do you have a link to where the exercises you recommend are explained?)

March 23, 2011 at 9:17 PM  
Blogger Vava said...

Nelly: I think this specific calf issue stems from the fact that I didn't eat anything for four days when I was suffering from strep real bad, and then the antibiotics that I've been prescribed not allowing my body to absorb the nutrients that it normally would since the drugs kill ALL bacteria, good and bad.

As far as leg weights go the three most important exercises for the most typical running related overuse injuries (IT Band and Runner's Knee) are the following: (This is my opinion based on experience with both injuries and years in the weight room. As with all things, be careful and ask someone to help you if you are not familiar with the movements.)

Deep Squats: You won't be able to lift as much as compared to standard squats (where you only go down until your thigh is parallel to the floor), but going deep activates a lot of muscles that the standard squat completely misses. Most important factor in this exercise is form so try it without weight at first. Keep your knees from going out ahead of your toes, keep your spine in a neutral position (don't bend forward as mush as possible), and do each rep slowly.

Leg Extensions: Although many people are against this exercise because, if done improperly, it can really damage your knee, I swear by it. Go slow and light, keep your toes pointed up towards your shin throughout the movement. This is the best exercise for targeting the muscles that help your patella track properly, namely the Vastus Medialis and the Vastus Intermedius.

Single Leg Deadlifts: Although I've read about this exercise in running magazines and on websites I didn't try it for the longest time. It is the best! Not only does it target you hamstrings and butt, it also works all those little stabilizing muscles aroung the knees and ankles. Key to this one is to flex the leg you are working on a little bit and do not lock your knee.

Other than that I target other weak areas, which for me are in the hips and butt. I always finish leg weights with Abductor and Adductor machines for that very reason.

Let me know if you have any other questions. We can always share emails and do this offline as well.
If I come across anything I will pass it along, but I've mainly been going on what my physio told me about my weaknesses and then used my experience in the weight room to tailor a workout to target those areas.

March 24, 2011 at 9:03 AM  
Blogger Nitmos said...

Dang, I hate calf muscles. I wish they were unnecessary. Fortunately for me, at least, mine don't act up until 20 miles. Biofreeze the heck out of those suckers.

March 25, 2011 at 1:08 PM  
Blogger Nelly said...

Thanks for all the info! Really appreciated! I'll let you know if I have any questions on it, thanks!

March 25, 2011 at 11:58 PM  

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