Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What's the Difference Between Good and Bad Pain?

Once I told a friend the best training session is the one where you come oh so close to injury but don't. After a few moments of blanks stares of "are you nuts" I explained what I was talking about. A lot of workouts, the exception being a recovery type workout, are designed to push your body. It's this pushing which makes you stronger. Some workouts push you via higher intensity, such as an interval workout. Interval workouts are speed workouts where you are going fast for short periods, think a track workout where you are doing 800m repeats with just a minute or two rest between. Other workouts you push yourself by going long where the length of the workout is what is providing the "work". The intensity is pretty low, but the miles add up and you get tired. Understanding these two workout extremes helps breakdown the different types of pain experienced. Intervals usually generate cardiovascular pain...out of breath, heart beating out of your chest type pain. The long workouts generate a whole different type of pain, ranging from my muscles are sore, to my energy levels are gone. Where it gets tricky is being able to identify what should be hurting and what shouldn't been hurting. Years of experience helps you with this.

Last night I had a long slow distance run of 2:07, which should have been just over 18 miles at my training pace for this level of workout (7:00 / mile). About 7 miles in my left calf started to tighten up and become painful. This was the type of pain which shouldn't be hurting. I walked for about a minute, then stopped and stretched for about 3 minutes to no avail. Now a 7 mile gimpy walk is going to take me about 2 hours and I wasn't dressed for a walk. I VERY RARELY ever walk during training, like maybe once every couple months, and only for an injury diagnosis like this. I call it the walk of shame. I guess it's just something about me....don't walk in a race, why would you allow yourself to do it in training.

Faced with the possibility of a 2 hour walk I decided to try to run it out, hoping not to worsen the injury. So I started out running at about 9:00 / mile and got it up to about 8:15 / mile, then a guy passes me. Ummm, I haven't been passed on a training run in like 5 years, and he didn't look like anything special (like a collegiate athlete), so I decided to HTFU (harden the F up) and get moving. My second run on Friday, 10 miles in the morning follow by 20 miles at night, didn't go so well as I was hurting all over and my mental toughness was gone and I actually ended the second run at 16 miles. I couldn't let 2 runs within a week end like this, so I decided to push through the pain and passed the guy and was running 7:00 miles again. After another 4 - 5 miles my calf pain was manageable so I finished the entire 2:07 run.

I certainly identified the calf pain as "unusual" and now I am left with some atypical fatigue there. I have another workout schedule for tonight, bike and run, and I am trying to decide if I should just take the day off to be safe. It's beautiful outside and I want to run. Oh the guilt of missing a workout is unbelievable, seriously I feel very guilty even though I know I should rest.

Not sure what I'll do????? I mean what do you do after work in the middle of the week until 9:00 at night? Go to a movie, I guess I could do tomorrow morning's swim workout early :)

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