Humility 101

Distance: 2 mi.

TIme: I have no idea

Weather: 77º, 71% humidity, wind S11, overcast

I could have titled this post, "How to Make Other Muscles Hurt A Lot" or maybe "Riding High on Cycling Endorphins, Biker Goes for First Run and Gets His Comeuppance".

I've been thinking about adding a bit of running to my fitness routine for a few reasons. One of them being a recent study showing that serious cyclists can suffer from bone loss due to the low impact nature of the sport (LA Times).

The other reason has been my increasing interaction with the various triathletes in the MRC, some of whom have been posting advice to other cyclists in the club interested in taking up running.

I've been leery of running ever since I suffered a severe sprain of my right ankle in 1989 during a volleyball game. I'll spare the details of how I injured it (it involves twisting my foot in relation to my lower leg in a way it was never meant to go), but one result was that my medial malleolus (the knobby bit on the inner side of the ankle - it's the lower inner end of your tibia/shin) sticks out significantly more than it did before the injury - my guess is that some connecting tissue that held it in place tore.

In addition to looking kind of odd, for quite a few years, I could not run any substantial distance (over 100 yards) without my ankle starting to hurt like the dickens. Now I know, I should have had it looked at way back then and my only excuse is that I was a mere child of 30 or so and, in my mind, still wore the "Superman cape" of invincibility. It took the discovery of a benign tumor in my hand many years later to make me give proper attention to the feedback my body was giving me.

Consequently, I avoided running. I had no problem windsurfing, which I was very addicted to at the time. Volleyball continued to be a big part of my sports mix even after I moved up to the Boston area from Southern Connecticut.

My ankle has never given me any trouble when cycling - gratefully the knobby bit does not whack the crank arm of my bike on the way around.

And so, I decide today to go for a short run. A bit of stretching, a brief walk and I'm off.


First thought, "God and Baby Jesus, gravity sucks!" Each and every time one of my leg/foot structures completes a graceful launch of my now lean body from the roadway, those damn undiscoverable "gravitons" keep sucking me right back down at 32 ft/sec2 and I have to rush get my other foot out in front and down on the pavement to prevent disaster. I have to do this over and over again, this fighting gravity thing. This is what is known as "running".

On the bike, one is keenly aware of gravity, but only at times. Certainly, when falling, but let's assume that only happens once in a while. On flat roads, gravity is pretty much invisible to the cyclist, we pedal along only battling the friction foisted upon us by the atmosphere (can't ride in a vacuum, kinda hard to breathe) and the mechanical underpinnings of our bikes.

Even when dealing with hills, on a bike one coaxes, cajoles, massages, wheedles gravity to relinquish its grip in a smooth, continuous fashion. I'll admit on very steep inclines, climbing on a bike can seem to approach the rhythm of running, but never the pile driver impact one experiences while running.

The reward for the cyclist seducing a hill the way he does on the way up, is of course the descent: gravity repays in kind for the effort given over to it for the skyward release.

Gravity does not relent when running: you pound on the flats, you pound up hills, you pound on the way back down.


The first few hundred feet found me breathing very hard, my body asking, "WTF do you think you're doing??" A quick look at my HR showed it in the mid 150 BPM, so I kept going and soon enough, my breathing began to be less labored.

At the end of mile one, I stopped to fool around with the cockamamie arrangement of waterbottle sling and bike jersey full of iPod, phone, keys, etc. that were bouncing around me in counter movement to my running - I think I looked like a wet hound dog, shaking his loose skin about his body to dry off.

I got things adjusted to my satisfaction (and made a vow to find better ways to carry all that crap around with me) and continued on.

Mile two wasn't so bad, I fell into a pace that felt less like my feet were going "bang bang bang" on the pavement and more like they only needed to occasionally contact the ground to keep my body aloft. This was more like it. I began to see where I could do this on a regular basis.

Problem was, the novelty of this activity had faded from the interest of my leg muscles. 6,500(oops that's how many minutes I've ridden so far this season) 1,800 miles of cycling is no preparation for two miles of running.

The second mile ended at my doorstep but I walked another 10 minutes in the hopes of staving off the worst of any aches I might experience later. I'm glad I mowed the lawn before I ran.


Wess said...

I swear you should write a book - truly enjoy your musings!

As they say... only +10% per week while getting started = go for 2.5 miles next wknd. And maybe shed some of the peripheral items - wear a shirt with no pockets, that'll help lighten the load.

Enjoy the runs.

Pain Face said...

it's a good thing that cyclocross only involves runs of 20ft or less.
you crossing this fall?

Russ Campbell said...

If I manage to get myself a cx bike, I'm crossing - otherwise I'm gonna give provide photographic coverage.