"There's only one hard and fast rule in running: sometimes you have to run one hard and fast."

Sunday, September 6, 2015

A Never-ending Experiment of One

After I ran a long trail run two weeks ago, I developed delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS). The good news was that that meant I could stop doing squats, as they were completely ineffective... and I hate squats with a passion that makes Romeo look mildly indifferent to Juliet. Unfortunately, I ran out of things to try.

I went into trail running as a superb downhill road racer, which made the fact that I couldn't run down hills on trails (I fell a lot early on) peculiar. Though I've become better at it, I never got good at it and style coming from practice only counts for so much.

Hill repeats, which seemed the obvious thing to do, did not help. I could run 4-7 hours up and down a hill, but my legs would get trashed 10 miles into a race. The problem was that I needed to run the downhills faster. Faster downhills, alas, led to instantaneous injury.

Uphill sprints did not work. Weight lifting did not work. Nothing worked and there was only one thing left to try, which has always led to injury for me - plyometrics. The eccentric strengthening was what I needed, but everything that's been designed is not designed for 50 year-old men with a history of ligament issues.

Exercise physiologists studying DOMS have people do 100 jumps off of a 1 meter box. People generally find this an easy task, but can't walk down steps the next couple of days. So, obviously, if I could build up to doing 100 1-meter jumps without pain, I could get past the problem.

There are few solid objects a meter high in a house - everything is built to 30 to a maximum of 36 inches - and fewer that are stable and can support a person's weight. Though I could work around that, a 6 foot guy on a 3 foot box needs more than a 7 or 8 foot roof. My garage roof beams ruled that out as well. Even if I could arrange something, outdoors, I needed a ramp to get onto it. And then, what if I wanted to try building up to that height?

I was NOT going to go to a gym for a 5 minute workout that would probably prove embarrassing.

Fortunately, I found a landscape retaining wall that did not terrace outward, which had a convenient grade so that I could jump and then walk back to the jump site (the landing was also on a slight grade, but I wouldn't find anything better).

That first step is a doozy. After doing a couple more, I was starting to get the hang of things, but I was already feeling strain on number 6. I was worried I was losing form on #9, so I called it a day after 10. The thing with DOMS, is you don't know you're going to get it until it's too late, so deciding when to quit is tricky.

So now we wait to see how we feel tomorrow and Tuesday. The main thing is: I didn't injure myself.

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