Shock Wave

“Some journeys take you farther from where you come from, but closer to where you belong.” — Ron Franscell

An experiment of one, running has become a constant source of self-discovery and enlightenment. It also surprises me how quickly I might forgot important lessons, and the sometimes grueling process of remembering them.

Nausea and other heat exhaustion symptoms were present during two of my desert trail races this winter. During a warm January race, though, it wasn’t necessary clear the upset stomach and muscle cramps were heat related. Instead, I chalked the side effects up to dehydration and poor timing on gel consumption.

But during my most recent race, where the temperature soared from 72 degrees at the start to 85 by the finish, the experience was different. At times, the nausea was joined by dizziness. On the mountainous course, there was a sole aid station before the massive incline, and runners were encouraged to bring plenty of fluids to drink.

While I carried a lone bottle, I drank its contents prior to reaching the first station, where I refilled. Timing fluids proved to be a saving factor in my race, and each draw of water improved my condition. This helped me discover that heat had played the biggest factor in my upset stomach — and will shape future race strategies.

Recently, another important lesson became readily apparent.

Several times, especially the day after a strenuous workout, I’ve struggled to sit or walk. This past Wednesday, when I attempted an easy morning run at the gym, I crumpled as a shock wave of pain shot from my leg, through my spine and into my neck. Flashbacks to last spring, when bearing weigh on my leg proved extremely difficult, filled my thoughts.

By the evening, feeling a little better and determined to put in some miles, I slipped on my shoes for a run. Within a half block, my knee was “clicking” but the hamstring pain was manageable.

All of this had a huge upside.

It helped me realize my knee and leg weren’t “tracking” normally — and perhaps I could fix it. Arriving home after a 4-mile loop, I grabbed my most dreaded recovery tool — a foam roller.

Even the idea of using a foam roller hurts.

However, in a quest to address an achy hamstring and nerve pain, I had sat on the device¬†and attempted to roll along it to ease tension on a severely tight and sore muscle. It didn’t occur to me to use it on my front leg muscles until my knee began giving me fits just a half hour earlier — presumably because some muscles were tugging on it in a way that prevented a smooth, easy motion.

Instant relief. Not complete relief, but close enough.

So close, in fact, that I slept well and headed back to the gym the next morning for a fartlek session on the treadmill.

The experiment continues.

Recently, I stumbled across a photo of Coby when he was about 6 or 7 weeks old, and I decided to share — along with a couple photos I snapped last weekend when we were reunited after my Arizona trip.


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2 Responses

  1. adam

    Hey steve, glad you are using a foam roller. I coach a lot of endurance athletes and for most manual therapy is a great way to gain some relief from overuse and tight or knotted muscles. i also recommend the use of a trigger point ball and roller especially in the calf muscles. nice thing about using a ball is you can really pinpoint an area. a tennis ball or baseball works just fine. but thought i would share some things that help me and my athletes! enjoy your blog and if you ever have some training questions let me know i would be glad to help you out at no cost as you are a voice for the endurance community which is nice to see! have a good day, love the pics of your dog.

    1. Thanks for the comment. Hopefully I can zip you some questions soon for a future blog post. I’m sure most endurance athletes can learn from your experience and knowledge.

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