October 10, 2013 by scratchtype1
Back on Saturday, I attended a group hike. The hike was far more strenuous than I had anticipated, and it ended up kicking my butt harder than any hike I’ve ever done. It killed the quads, the muscles on the front of the thighs. What happened was the hike was mostly a series of uphills and downhills, which was caused by the feeder creeks that had carved out ravines and mini-valleys. It was the downhills that inflicted the damage — what happens is that as you go downhill, the quad muscles are contracted, but lengthening. After enough of those eccentric contractions, muscle fibers become damaged and enough of that, inflammation sets in, swelling sets in, and sometimes pain.
In my case, lots of pain on Sunday and Monday. Walking over level ground or floors was okay, but going downwards at all made the quads complain loudly. Finally on Tuesday the soreness began to subside and when I woke up Wednesday morning, there was still a little bit, but not too much. So I packed running shorts and a shirt in my bag for work and took the running gear with me so I could squeeze in a run at my brother’s house before dinner and then going to bowling league.
Now last week my brother’s road had been stripped down to a rough jagged layer in preparation to put a new asphalt surface on it. I had worn the Xeros that day when I ran, because my feet were slightly abused from the 5K on Sunday and Monday’s run. In fact, Monday had been the last day I had run barefoot, so not only had I gone 4 days without running, I had gone 8 days without a barefoot run.
The new asphalt near my brother’s house was delightfully smooth, even slightly warm still. It had been a stressful day at work, and there was a sense of relief as my feet began dancing over the smoothness of the new surface. I then quickly turned into a housing development so I could loop and circle around and settle into the soothing rhythm of an easy-paced run. The development was very much a series of rolling slopes, up and down. I felt the thighs twinge some going downhill, but nothing serious. After only a few minutes, I felt like I had been already running a long time, but in that good way, not long time like it felt awful. Long time like it felt comfortable and secure. My legs felt stronger than when I had last run, and that helped to offset the twinges I did feel from the leftover effects of Saturday’s hike.
At one point, I passed near a couple of walkers and I waved hi to them as I turned right. Then after another right and then a left I reached the road my brother’s house is along and ran a stretch of even fresher asphalt, and it was stickier than the stretch near my brother’s house. The I turned left back into the housing development and eventually saw the two walkers again. They smiled at me and I waved to them. Then I concentrated on running relaxed and returning to my brother’s house. I ended up with 2.8 miles in about 25:40.
It all felt good: the air, the roads, the feet, the easy but quick rhythm. The four days away from running were erased, I had moved with purpose and enjoyed those 25 minutes to myself, to feel out the surface of the roads near where my brother lives. Nothing earth-shaking or revelatory, but simply reaffirming, that I was alive, that the heart beats on, that I can move and be part of the world around me.