Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Marxist Running Revolution

This post goes out to my University of Michigan socialist sociology instructor. He was a fairly radical activist, and I am pretty sure was responsible for the nightly spray-painting graffiti  "Can the land be owned? Can the air be owned?"  

He would come to class each day eating a hot dog, and explain how the street vendor hot dog cart had its origins in Capitalism and then explain the Marxist implications. 

I wanted to tell him he had mustard on his always unshaven face, but that would have been so bourgeois of me.

A Marxist Revolution!!

My legs have revolted and gone on strike. 

Yes, my legs are the proletariat of my running world.  They are the tireless working class heroes who support everything. And when I honor and appreciate them, they are masters of their environment and kings of the world.

My ever-pumping heart is the capitalist, providing the funds to keep my body moving.  And my lungs are the government, letting the right amount of oxygen trickle into my running economy to make sure I keep flowing forward efficiently.

And my brain is the investor, always deciding how much risk to invest, when to run that 20 miler, do some speedwork, run some hills, or sign up for a tune-up race, constantly trying to get the best return on my investment.

Well, my brain has finally abused my legs to their breaking point.  Tuesday, I went for what I hoped would be a 8 mile run, and every half mile my calves tightened and restricted so much I couldn't undo them.  They had my running in a stranglehold, and while in times past I could make them work for me with sweet talk and warm ups until they would release instead of squeeze so tightly like a ball of rubber bands wound tight, this was just not to be. They got worse. I only finished six miles and did so in half mile runs and then 100 yard walks, followed by quarter mile runs and then 100 yard walks. 

Sure, they have tried to revolt before but have always been appeased. I ice them to sleep and they feel happy. I warm them in snugly calf sleeves. I promise them some nice muscle building supplements which make them grow and adapt. I give them long weekends and days off.  I try to remind them that in thirty days we will start our NYCM taper.

They even have their own personal masseuse who makes them purrrr.  Yes, everyday I give them a nice, long, orange foam rolling treatment.

No matter. This has not worked, and they are done.  They are now tapped. Tapped out.  Four 20 plus mile runs, a bit more hills and speed thrown in, and weekly mileage that has finally topped out at 40 a couple of times. Not to mention switching to a new minimalist shoe, the Kirvana 3's, which my brain, the investor, has committed to, yet the legs are still in union negotiations to see if they approve.

"We're not as young as we used to be," they remind me, "and there's age groups for a reason. Stop expecting the same thing from us."

I have felt blood pulsating to my calfs as I sleep, clear evidence of a ready to be injured state.  They hurt to the touch in certain places, and just one day off hasn't taken this away.

Sure, I place all the blame on my calfs, but my thighs have been revolting as well, and my knees certainly arent' happy. If only I could have them blame each other. If only the calves would blame the thighs, and if the thighs then pointed fingers at  the knees as the source of the problem.  Then they would fight each other, instead of revolting against the leadership, the head and heart who want them to just keep working, just keep working, and let us reap the benefits. 

But, I need some rest. I will count my blessings that my brain has invested wisely so far into the right kind of workouts to have me ready to rock NYCM, but not so much that I have had to take time off for injury.

The thing is, as much as my legs benefit from running, it is my head and heart I am really running for, and as long as my legs will keep being the workers, I will chase the dragon down and gather up all the highs that lift my heart and make my head so full of fancy.

I"m taking four days off in a row from running. This is day two, and on Sunday I am hoping to do a 20 mile run with the Brooks-Hanson group.  If I feel in the right kind of zone, it will be a progressively faster 20 miler.

Please don't tell my calves all of this. Let them rest and enjoy their break. Sunday morning at 7 am it's back to work.   And as much as my brain can plan when and where and how to spend its time, it is my legs who are in complete control.

If they only knew their power.


Cait the Arty Runnerchick said...

okay, tipping my imaginary hat to u and the creativity of this post, great writing on a sh##ty subject. at least u're smart enough to know that u've got the base and meat and potatoes of ur marathon training already done so taking time off now is much less 'convenient' than had this been months/weeks earlier. let those darn legs do their strike and u can ambush them in two days...they'll never see it coming and hopefully the break will mean they'll cede to ur brain's victory and get back in line! good luck!

also, my dad has serious calf issues, sounds like what u go thru. he does all he can to appease them but they are like the sleeping dragons.

SupermomE13 said...

Clever clever clever (as always). Now some unsolicited advice.

- Dude - that is a lot of long runs. The right training is different for everyone, but there is a reason not many (any?) training plans recommend you have 4 20 milers. That is a lot of wear and tear on the body, and the goal is to get to the start line strong and healthy. "They" say it is better by far to get to the start line 10% undertrained than even 1% overtrained. Also, your long runs should never be more than 40-50% of your total weekly mileage, so watch that.

- This (getting close to marathon) is probably not the best time to switch to minimalist shoes. Calf problems are super common when you switch to minimalist shoes, and this is not the time to go making your calves mad. I would say AFTER the race, when you are running short, slow, easy miles, is a much wiser time to transition to a new type of shoes.

Coach's hat off. Ice, rest, roll, stretch, plead, and be kind to those calves. You have PLENTY of time to get them feeling good again and ready to roll for New York. :)

Mark Matthews said...

Thanks Erin. I appreciate your thoughts and I know you know what you are talking about. Maybe I shouldn't tell you that I will probably have seven 20 milers before I start to taper for New York. I've heard the long run being 40-50% of your weekly mileage rule, and usually it is close, but I found historically I've done better if, when I need more rest, to skip a mid week run and nail the long ones. That said, I've never had this many long ones. What the hell am I doing? who knows. I run some quite slow, however, and there are always 14 to 20 days apart. Truth is, I love the feeling of those miles from 16 to 20 so much, that I think I'm looking for that feeling and lying to myself and calling it training. Oh, where's a therapist when you need one.

On the fence about the shoe switch. It's been about two months running in them, but just half my miles on them, including a half marathon. I just need some NYCM run support to carry my old shoes with them in case I need to switch. Maybe my 8 year old will agree.

Put your coachs hat on and comment anytime.

Mark Matthews said...

I almost couldnt' resist running on them today. Must be a sign they are better.

Rain said...

Absolutely agree that this is some great writing on a tough more than crappy topic. Tight calves are SUCH a pain, literally and figuratively! And sometimes you just can't roll them out enough....*sigh*
I hope your calves relax these few days and get you up and running again on Sunday!

Glad I found your blog today.

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